Until recently, I hadn’t fully realized that these ‘Harley Quinn’ volumes were set in ‘The New 52’. This was primarily due to the minimal use of its main characters until this point. The sixth volume introduces a new creative team: Frank Tieri, Inaki Miranda, Mirka Andolfo, and several other artists who contribute to Harley Quinn issues #35-42. There were a few initially odd-looking panels, but once the team settled into the madness, the narrative progressed smoothly.
Well, perhaps “smoothly” isn’t the right word for Harley, especially after she encounters a man-bat, receives a bite, and transforms into a Harley-bat herself. Her fellow Coney Island residents have to extract Kirk Langstrom from Arkham to procure an antidote and avoid his wife, Francine, who initiated the whole debacle.
Following this ordeal, Harley seeks rest and becomes a superhero-for-hire in New York as her idea of a ‘break’. The Penguin, meanwhile, convinces other villains to leave Gotham City and head to the Big Apple after he uses a couple of giant penguins to eliminate mafia bosses. There’s a significant amount of conflict between them before Harley enters the scene. I’m treading lightly around spoilers, but the twist is certainly unique. One should be wary of touching unexpected gifts.
The battle for Coney Island, or rather, ‘Antarctic Island’, reimagined in the Penguin’s vision, is intense but fails to acknowledge Harley’s strategic pre-planning and deployment of her team. Granted, detailing this could potentially spoil the plot, but illustrating various characters in preparation, and only revealing their roles later, would have still been effective within the existing narrative. And, is there such a thing as a porcupine enema? I was under the impression it was exclusive to hedgehogs.
The final story is set in a post-apocalyptic future, the details of which I have yet to read and discover. However, the glimpses provided don’t paint a rosy picture.
I must comment on the variant covers by Frank Cho and Sabine Rich. Their portrayal of Harley Quinn features unusually massive thighs. Short people can have various body types, but Harley is typically depicted with more proportional features. Their version seems less capable of the agility and speed Harley is known for. In contrast, Amanda Conner’s covers, as shown here, are far more representative and effective.
The volume concludes with a nod to the Suicide Squad, which is already on my reading list. I find them a fascinating contrast to the Justice League, with their unique dynamics and moral complexities.
(pub: DC Comics, 2018. Page softcover graphic novel. Price: varies. ISBN: 978-1-40128-152-6)
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