Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1 – Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Writers; Amanda Conner, Artist; Paul Mounts, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Corrina and I differed drastically on the recent Birds of Prey film,
Corrina: I interrupt this review to say the Birds of Prey film is a blast, a great deal of fun, and though it’s a Harley Quinn movie, it does well by the other Biirds, especially Dinah. (There is an issue with Cassandra who should be an original character but that’s comic insider stuff.)
Back to your regularly scheduled comic review.
Ray: ….but to my eye this Black Label miniseries has all the best parts in the hands of Harley’s most iconic creative team. Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1 is a foul-mouthed, ultraviolent love letter to the creative team and supporting cast of the Palmiotti/Conner run. It’s also almost entirely a Harley comic, at least for the first issue. At around 32 packed pages, it kicks off with Harley doing what she does best – screwing up her life. An ill-advised attempt to prolong a vacation with Poison Ivy causes a rift between them, and Harley comes back to find out that her building has been torched and her manager Tony has been violently assaulted by a shady loan agency she was in hock to. After an ill-advised attempt to get Power Girl to make her some diamonds, Harley decides to take matters into her own hands and head to Gotham to take on the loan shark.
The tone of Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1 is very similar to the movie – Harley at her most charmingly unhinged, a ragtag group of heroines backing her up, a loathsome crime-lord villain, and a distinctly R-rated bent – but it has a light touch that delivers the perfect dose of absurdity. Harley curses a lot more than she used to and there’s a good deal of blood, but none of it ever feels realistic.
Corrina: I’m going to have to disagree again with Ray. The tone of this comic definitely is more leering toward the female characters. Not in a bad way but Harley basically comes on to everyone, which is a bit different from the movie. That story doesn’t let her get away with her worst behavior, especially at a critical moment. That added some depth that, so far, is a bit missing in this comic. (But then, this comic’s tone is very different.)
Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1 definitely endorses everything about Harley, even murder, in a good natured way. I’ll also point out that Huntress is back to flat-out killing people again, and while that fits with this story and Black Label, it doesn’t quite fit with the Huntress I want to see most (at least in the comics). Hence, I’m not as all-in on the Birds of Prey revival by this creative team as Ray is.
But, yes, this book is fun to read and classic Harley. It’s very, very good. But while he prefers the comic, I prefer the movie.
Ray: It’s almost like an R-rated Looney Tunes cartoon, whether she’s hurling a giant metal sign that decapitates loan sharks or tearing her way through hired goons with weapons that she nicknames after genitalia. The supporting cast of the original run, including the Gang of Harleys and the always-ridiculous Red Tool, are in fine form this issue but feel like they’re just here for a brief cameo before the main cast takes over.
That would be the Birds of Prey, and even though Palmiotti and Conner have never really worked with them before it feels like they’re off to a good start. Huntress is intense and ruthless, but seems vaguely tolerant of Harley’s antics. Renee is distinctly less tolerant.
Dinah isn’t in this issue, but Cassandra Cain appears towards the end and her character is a breath of fresh air after her portrayal in the movie. She doesn’t say much – that’s kind of the point, but Amanda Conner does a fantastic job with her unique expressionism. The action is top-notch, the art is fantastic, and it feels like Palmiotti and Conner are taking full advantage of being unleashed in this new format. It’s too bad this is only three issues, because it feels like this is the Birds of Prey revamp we’ve been waiting for after some rough seas for the franchise.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.