Harley Quinn #38 – Frank Tieri, Writer; Mirka Andolfo, Eleonora Carlini, Artists; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: After an iffy first arc, the last issue of Frank Tieri’s run showed some real promise as our big bad was introduced – and Harley Quinn #38 takes that promise and builds on it, delivering a chaotic, villain-themed issue that brings back some oddball old favorites and also promises a twist for one of Gotham’s most misused villains.
When we last left off, Penguin had set his eyes on Coney Island and was bringing in his Gotham villain allies to help take it over piece by piece. That starts early, as Mr. Freeze takes over the beach and turns Cy Borgman’s planned Polar Bear Plunge into an ice skating rink. However, most of the villains in this issue are…less renowned. For instance, Condiment King spraying people with ketchup and mustard at a hot dog stand. He’s joined by such non-luminaries as Film Freak, Egghead, and King Tut, as well as a few even I didn’t know about!
While the Gang of Harleys is busy trying to fend off this mass villain attack, Harley is occupied with the Gorilla Gang, an ape-themed band of bank robbers in bad masks. While they’re ridiculous on the surface, they actually bring a bit of menace – not a lot, just enough to put Harley in danger and necessitate a surprise visit from Red Tool. I used to hate this character, but now he’s…okay? The segment that really has me excited here involves Killer Moth and Killer Croc, though. It’s not only the funniest, as the hapless insect-themed crook tries to broker a deal with Croc only to be turned into a human battering ram, but it also gives Croc a very personal motivation for his intended takeover of Coney Island, which calls back to his early characterization before he was turned into a rampaging beast in Suicide Squad. He’s not a crocodile mutant, he’s something much more interesting, and I’m hoping this leads to him being used better all around.
Corrina: This was fun!
Any story when you can work in the Condiment King being ridiculous is always going make me smile, especially in this off-kilter world that Harley inhabits. The dialogue is terrific throughout the issue, especially in the confrontation between Harley and the Gorilla Gang at the Empire State Building. (Though I could have done without the Red Tool rescue.)
It’s like Penguin decided to get all the silly second-rate villains out of his figurative hair for a while by sending them over to New York City. Not a bad plan, really.
Killer Croc, however, seems to be the wild card. Is he working for Penguin or genuinely interested in taking over Coney Island because it means something to him? He and Harley have history, so I would expect that to come into play. (Note: Waller really does have quite a revolving door for the Suicide Squad, eh?)
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.