After a bit of a mixed start with its first three issues (the very first issue was a #0 issue), it looks like this series just might be getting back on track. I am a pretty big fan of Harley from the Batman: The Animated Series days and while the Harley that Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are writing is nowhere near the same Harley, whether in terms of characterisation or visual design, she is distinctly reminiscent of the totally goofball and oddball behaviour of that first appearance that catapulted her into the big leagues of DC’s characters. Its actually been quite fun to see how Jimmy and Amanda have been tackling her and despite a somewhat mediocre issue last month, my enthusiasm for this title is still fairly high.
The new issue is a Valentine’s issue. This is odd considering that we had Valentine’s a week back. I don’t see why this issue wasn’t released last week, two days before Valentine’s, to kind of fit that whole atmosphere and mood better. But still, it is probably for the best. I doubt that anyone celebrates Valentine’s by getting all violent and taking out a bunch of mass murderers and assassins who are coming after her. Yeah, definitely not. But that’s totally Harley! Kind of.
Harley Quinn #0 was very much one of the best comics of last year. The humour was great, the rotating artist gallery was a fun thing, and the writing just generally was good. Harley Quinn #1 had a lot to live up to and it met some expectations, but failed others. But it is undeniable that Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti wrote a really fun comic with Harley at the center of the proceedings and the series could very well be the bright spot in the grim and grittiness of the New 52 if it could keep going in the same vein all the way. But that’s not what happened with the latest issue.
Harley Quinn #2 is a bit of an odd-beast for sure. It has some really great moments, but then there all the other things that bring it down. The jokes fall a little flat, the writing is not as good, we are already into guest stars and we already have an assistant artist to help out Chad Hardin with the pencils. It is a really weird thing. I liked the story here, but I felt that a lot of the potential was just squandered. I expected more out of it.
Just a few days ago the sales figures for the month of November were released and it turns out, surprise surprise, that Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s Harley Quinn #0 was the 2nd bestselling issue of the month. Comic Book Resources’ sales report post mentions a figure of 114,000+. That’s pretty damn fantastic for an issue that got lambasted to hell and back for its controversial elements back in September. There was, in fact, so much criticism of the issue before it hit stands that I thought it would barely sell. But sell it did, and quite handsomely. It was also a pretty damn fantastic issue for me, one of the best that I read last month.
The first issue (technically the second issue) brings the story forward, and also restores the fourth wall that Harley repeatedly broke in the previous issue and it presents a protagonist who is most definitely crazy, but also possesses a strong violent and rough streak, thanks to her previous association with the Clown Prince of Crime of the DC Universe, the Joker himself. Equal parts serious and hilarious, Harley Quinn #1 is a fun issue overall, but it does have a few missteps that prevent it from being as great as the previous issue.
There isn’t any comics issue or character in recent months, or even in the last couple years as far as I know, who has drawn as much attention and controversy as Harley Quinn, who got a new ongoing series today from veteran industry professionals Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. The controversy had largely to do with an apparently insensitive artist submission that was put together for this title in September, which involved some test art panels that completely lacked the context of the actual issue. Do a search for it and you’ll find all there is to know about it. That’s not what this post is about thought.
I love Harley Quinn as a character. Bruce Timm and Co. introduced her in Batman: The Animated Series nearly two decades ago and since then she’s gained a life of her own, becoming one of the most quirkiest characters in comics, and that’s saying something since she debuted as the sidekick to the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime and you can’t get any (insanely) quirkier than that guy. And yet, Harley one-upped him. With this new issue, a zero issue no less, Harley Quinn is back in the saddle with lots of great humour and some fantastic artwork.