In Review: Harley Quinn #1

The cover: Looking dangerously proud, Harley casually holds her trademark sledgehammer across her shoulders. Below her are several unconscious roller skaters–roller derby girls?–with a background of stars emanating from them, growing larger as they move away. This is a good first issue cover by Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts showing the character clearly and the danger she brings to a scene. Overall grade: A

The story: This reads like a first issue as it introduces the characters and the setting clearly for anyone new to this villain can jump in comfortably. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s “Hot in the City” opens with Harley tooling down the street on a Harley (Geddit?) with the surviving possessions stacked ridiculously high. Her talking beaver (Okay, it only talks to her) whines about the trip, only stopping at a red light and witnessing a wiener dog look longingly at Harley as it’s own drags it across the crosswalk. Unable to watch the poochie tear up, Harley intervenes and takes the dog and own for a ride. Their trip interrupted only when a motorcyclist pulls up next to her with gun drawn. Things don’t go well for this attacker. In fact, things don’t go well for this story. This book is striving for humor, but by neutering Harley: she’s dragging a man behind her–shouldn’t he be a quick stain on the ground? Her dialogue as she takes out her motorcycle assassin is weak. There are also a lot of unbelievable moments: Harley is instantly beloved by her tenants, and no one is questioning their new landlord being a criminal? The police don’t notice Harley Quinn, an associate of the Joker, tooling down the streets? Page 14 is completely unbelievable: I can’t believe that her name hasn’t become infamous among those in this profession. I also cannot believe that she would be allowed to participate in the event in the end. It’s as if everyone she’s encountered are a tabula rasa to her existence. I just don’t believe it. The humor is very flat. It seems as though the writers are trying to imitate Ambush Bug or classic Justice League wackiness. This only makes me appreciate Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis all the more. Overall grade: D+

The art: This book looks amazing. There are a lot of super details in every page by Chad Hardin. It goes from serious to comedic very quickly and smoothly. Action scenes are done very well, especially on Pages 5 – 7 and 17 – 18, with those last two pages being my favorite of the book. Harley should be drawn as an attractive woman, and she is: fanboys should be quite pleased by Page 19. The emotions that Hardin gets out of Harley are really terrific, as shown by Pages 2 and 3. His settings and backgrounds are also highly detailed and the characters used to flesh out a panel are fully realized. The art is tremendous. Overall grade: A

The colors: Matching the art is the amazing work by Alex Sinclair on this book. Harley’s color scheme makes her a stand out to begin with, but everything else looks fantastic. Page 2 has some really nice coloring that stuck out the most for me. I like how Sinclair went for traditionally bright background colors when something violent was going on, such as on Page 18, panel one. I can’t grouse about anything he’s done on this book, it all looks so good. Overall grade: A

The letters: The usual three components from a letterer: narration, dialogue, and sound effects. All come courtesy John J. Hill. Done nicely, though nothing exceptionally. Overall grade: B+

The final line: I’ll not be buying any other issues. I didn’t care for the story, but the art was pretty. I want over the top humor or a deadly serious tale, not this poor pastiche. Overall grade: C+

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th grade English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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