Harley Quinn #33 – Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Writers; Bret Blevins, Otto Schmidt, Moritat, Artists; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Harley Uses Roller Derby As Grief Therapy
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
Ray: Now that the ultraviolent mega-arc that dominated the last few months of Harley has wrapped, Palmiotti and Conner are putting the last touches on their run with a melancholy two-part finale that clears the deck for Frank Tieri’s run and ties up loose ends. Centered around the Coney Island gang mourning Mason Macabre and figuring out where they go from here, it’s somewhat hurt by the fact that I don’t think anyone ever found Mason all that interesting – but they sell it anyway, making you care about the people surrounding him. His mother’s grief, in particular, feels really genuine and allows Harley to keep from focusing on her own loss as she tries to help her. But Madame Macabre’s decision to leave Coney Island takes that away, leaving Harley more isolated. The issue also centers around a hurricane about to hit the NY/NJ area, and Harley and the rest of the gang try to keep the vulnerable safe.
Harley in a meat dress to lure animals into her house? Okay! That’s what this book does best – combining the absurd with the genuine and showing us that there’s a decent core underneath Harley’s silliness. I was less enthralled with the roller derby storyline, as it mainly boils down to Harley brutally beating a low-level super-criminal who’s using her love-toxin powers to…cheat at roller derby? It’s a sideshow that mainly serves to allow Harley to deal out some violence.
However, the scenes we see of Harley and Ivy this issue are strong, and the final issue sets up a road trip that will serve as a final capper on this run. I was particularly hard on a lot of this run when I felt it devolved into senseless violence, but this issue nicely reminds us of the quirky characters that made this run such a hit in the first place. It looks to me like Palmiotti and Conner will be going out on a high note.
Corrina: Since Harley’s new series began, the strength of it has been mixing dark humor with real emotion. As Ray said, sometimes it goes overboard into dark humor that’s not funny at all, simply gory, and sometimes the humor falls flat. But it works best when it’s absurd and real at the same time, as in this issue, where Harley and Madam Macabre share their mutual grief, while their driver, who seems to be an intelligent egg (I don’t think he’s ever been truly explained, he’s just there) looks on, worried about them. It’s scenes like these that make Harley a three-dimensional character, rather than a one-note mayhem joke.
And, again, later in the issue, Ivy and Harley’s interactions brings home the emotions they feel for each other.
Tieri, who’s following Palmiotti and Conner, has big shoes to fill.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.