Harley Quinn: Harley Loves Joker #1 – Paul Dini, Writer; Bret Blevins, Artist; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker is obviously very problematic and has thankfully mostly been abandoned in the comics, but the one writer who still manages to make it work on some level is one of its originators, Paul Dini. The format of Harley Quinn: Harley Loves Joker #1, a two-issue miniseries, is a bit odd, because the story began as a backup in Harley’s title six months ago, then took a break for several months before returning in this stand-alone issue. So readers may forget the dangling plots involving Harley owing several million dollars to Carpenter for her new lair. That’s dispatched fairly quickly, though, as Harley attempts to solve her financial problems with a series of heists. The story quickly shifts to a new supervillain who is causing no small amount of trouble for Harley and Joker’s gang – Grison, a woman-skunk hybrid of sorts who emits a toxic gas from her – well, I think you can guess where this is going.
Grison, while she could have been a stock supervillain, turns out to be something much more interesting – a former college rival of Harley’s, obsessed with animal research and tied to mad scientists. Dini even name-drops Emile Dorian and Abel Cuvier, two mad scientists from the Batman animated series and Batman Beyond. She’s an appealingly nasty and cruel villain, compared to the harmless villains in the rest of the issue. Surprisingly, I think the reason this issue works so well is that despite the title, it’s really not about Joker at all. He’s there but mostly comes off as a peevish straight man to Harley’s wacky scheming. It’s almost like a vintage sitcom that way. Harley’s desire to please him and stay out of trouble is there, of course, but her ambition and manic style is there as well and her rivalry with Grison gives her something she hasn’t really had until now – a classic supervillain rival. Dini manages to update one of his most iconic creations while not losing what made her a hit in the first place.
Corrina: I knew this wasn’t going to work for me when I started counting gratuitous butt shots instead of paying attention to the story. For the record, I counted twelve in the first half of the issue before I threw up my hands.
I guess for those who like how Dini writes the Joker and Harley, they might enjoy this. The original backup feature was fine but expanding the concept to a whole issue made it drag for me.
But there are lots and lots of Harley butt shots, should you be in the mood for that.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.