This week from DC Comics we get the shock of our lives. Okay, maybe not quite that big, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read this issue. When they ended Harley’s previous title, I loved where they took the character. I was excited to hear she would receive a relaunch instead of being abandoned, but when the new title started, I could not have been more upset. Every facet of the new title was terrible and unreadable. I do not know what made me look at Harley Quinn 6, but when I did I had to do a double take. The art I so despised in the first 5 issues was gone. The new style looked much better, and when I finished the story I found myself pleasantly surprised. DC paid attention and someone listened. The Harley Quinn title is back!
When I saw the new artwork I immediately went back to issue 5 and sure enough some changed took place. Steph Phillips still writes the series, but artist and color person changed from Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia to the new team of Laura Braga and Arif Prianto. While I still believe this series still lags behind her old series, these changes in the art department bring the title back to readable status once more.
Upon first glance, my hopes fell for anything different. Cover A still uses the same design as the old style used in issues 1-5. Cover B still went with a more realistic, highly detailed design. I knew someone listened when I saw the new artwork. I was ecstatic. The new art now looks much better. This does not make it perfect, however. In certain panels the characters looks sharp and very well done, but in other frames body lines do not look quite right and seem out of joint. Certain faces sometimes look a bit cartoony, but then in the next panel everything snaps back to a more impressive quality. I really like the new artwork overall, but if I had to give it a term, the term would be inconsistent.
The other complaint I had with the first five issues was the writing. Simply using the Harley character does not mean one understands the true nature of the character. Phillips still writes for the series, but I think her story telling improved a bit. The character still seems to have regressed from her more matured attitude her old title use, and when compared to Harley’s appearances in the other Bat-titles, this Harley is a mere child. While I am not a fan of this regression, if I look at it as a soft reboot of the character it helps some. Phillips seems to get closer to an actual “Harley state of mind” in this issue than in previous issues, but again I would call it a bit inconsistent.
Someone Listened – Cats and Clowns
Forever Never Forever…We’ll See
As for the story itself, Phillips does a wonderful job in this issue playing off Catwoman and Harley Quinn. Harley still needs to be a bit more ‘Harley’ but the interactions and banter back and forth do an amazing job highlighting how these two would believably interact. In fact it’s one of the true high points of this issue.
The thing I loved most about this issue is the interactions between Harley and Catwoman. In many ways Selina is the more mature, motherly figure of the two, while Harley comes across more the star struck fan girl of Catwoman’s. Throughout this issue, Harley’s caption boxes tell a story of dealing with pets. Harley loves dogs more than cats (obviously as she owns Hyenas). She voices the natural differences between the two as well as the trademark personality types of cats. Cats are aloof, suspicious, and untrusting. This is Selena to a T, and exactly how Selena treats Harley. Even though Harley is trying to bring down a drug ring that seems to originate in Alleytown, Selena refuses to help Harley until Harley offers to leave forever. Even at the end when Harley offers to team up again, Selena tells her to not get ahead of herself.
In the end, though, something happened between the two. Harley takes a vile of toxin to the face when she shoves Catwoman out of the way. This breaks through Selina’s cold, cat-like exterior. Harley ends the issue talking about while she prefers the automatic loyalty of dogs, there is something special about finally earning the trust of a cat(woman).
Someone Listened – Gotham Connected
I made this comment in a couple Gotham title reviews last week, and this week’s Harley Quinn displays this fact even more. Ever since Future State ended, writers and creators of the Gotham titles are doing a Marvel movie quality job of writing independent stories for each character, yet linking them all together to tell the story of the forth-coming Future State disaster run by Scarecrow and Simon Saint. While difficult to be sure, readers should really be reading as many Gotham titles as possible to fully understand what is happening to Gotham. Every title tells a bit more of the overall story.
Harley’s drug ring runs back to Hugo Strange. Hugo’s story crosses with Scarecrow’s involvement in the Magistrate program. Not only that, but Harley’s title also sets up portions of the Gotham wide story arc kicking off next week – Fear State. Scarecrow is about to mess some shit up in Gotham and it will run through every single Gotham title.
While a bit inconsistent and still not to the mark of her old title, Starting with Harley Quinn 6, the title is now out of the sewer and back to a quality piece of work. I look forward to reading this title once more and am happy someone listened.