Harley Quinn #4

This series has been less than thrilling. Let’s recap:

#0– was hilarious and stunning. A who’s who of comic book artists paying homage to Harleen Quinzel. It was awesome.

#1– didn’t live up. It was a slow start with inconsistent art. Still, I was hopeful that once Harley got settled into her new Brooklyn home things would ramp up.

#2– Poison Ivy comes to visit in a plot that (inadvertantly- I hope) paints animal/environmental activists as nut bags. With a little Gotham star-power courtesy of Dr. Pam Isley, I liked it… but it didn’t do much in terms of overall plot. 

#3– A lovepotion/date rape drug gets HQ in some trouble with some ex-cons. Nothing happened. And it wasn’t funny enough to make up for it.

But I said I would give this series 5 issues to go somewhere. Because I have faith in Amanda Conner and I want Harley to do well… But I only have so much time and money. And I don’t have it in me to hate read this the way I’ve been hate reading Forever Evil. 

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And #4 made some headway in convincing me to stick around. This issue was funnier, zanier and we made some (slight) headway in finding where all these Hitmen are coming from. Harley puts on her regular people disguise and heads to her therapist job at the nursing home which leads her to taking a patient’s family hostage. She misses a roller derby match which leads her to an impulsive decision to take the other team out of contention. When she makes it back to her office she meets up with Sy Borgman, formerly Syborg, a retired supe who recruits her to finish a job that he started in the sixties against Russian Mafia. 

Now that sounds promising!

The art: Stephane Roux kills it in this issue. Hey Paul Mounts does colors! While not as bright and Shiny as the back pages of the X-Men, our colorful Harley Quinn stands out against dingy urban backgrounds and her sparse office. 

Dammit. I’m going to keep having to buy this, aren’t I? Check out the variant cover: Awesome.

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Harley Quinn #2

Helter Shelter

Dr. Harleen Quinzel still has a price tag on her head, and while she gets to lay the smack down on some hired guns most of this issue is centered around Harley organizing a heist… to save animals from being euthanized. Adorbz. And while she’s getting her animal rights on, she calls eco-terrorist BFF Dr. Pamela Isley. Our favorite Gotham PhD’s liberate some animals and then snuggle up all the while Harley tries to figure out what’s going on here.

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All the while dealing with real world issues like waiting for a fridge to be delivered so that rotting corpse quis stinking up the place.

I loved that Harley got a visit from my favorite Gotham anti-hero Poison Ivy. But I dislike the way Chad Hardin and Stephane Roux went with her look;

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Tribal tattoos? argh… 

but the personalities are right, constantly playing off each other: pranking, flirting, teamwork and girl power! oh HELL yeah! I’m about to ask writer Amanda Conner to be my Valentine… hmm.. would co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti like that? Poison Ivy even comes up with a scheme to fake Harley’s death and let her collect on the reward, but Harley decides to go the direct route -you know, wrapping would be assassins in sausage and throwing him to the dogs.

While both Harleen and Pamela tend to be morally ambiguous villainesses and occasional good guys.. there’s an odd subtext.. Poison Ivy loves plants more than people, something that’s been proved many times before and Harley’s main storyline of this issue was rescuing pups and kitties (and in issue 1 she adopted a dog and slammed down an animal abuser). Point being: these characters are shown protecting animals or the environment and are portrayed as deviants. Of course no one wants ancient oaks or wide eyed beagles to bite the dust but often activists are presented as radicals or extremists in an effort to alarm other would be do-gooders. I find it endearing from HQ but the stereotype in general is detrimental when the “Green Scare” is a very real thing. To the point where people have been baited by the FBI and charged to decade long jail sentences for THINKING about planning a crime. 

Everyone loves Harley and Ivy but they are the Dark Knight’s adversaries, so what message are we sending about opposers of animal cruelty? By using the unstable Harley as an ALF avatar is the message being sent that environmental and animal rights activists are all nutjob wackos?

Or is this a way for the outrageous Quinn to seem more innocent and sweet?

What do you think?