By Luke Abbott
Out of all of the upcoming Harley Quinn issues previewed online, this was the one that I was a little unsure about. The brief summary tells us that Harley Quinn will be covering as a burlesque dancer at a bar. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes; I love Harley Quinn, but I really didn’t want to see the writers try and use the comic to act out their Harley Quinn skin suit fantasies.
The first part of this issue plays out exactly like that. Harley is getting ready for a show and we already see her half-nude, essentially becoming the male fantasy for the night. She goes on stage, takes off most of her clothes and kisses another woman. In fact, she nearly rips the clothes off of her co-dancer (who was already pretty scantily-clad), in one frame. It is all a little too voyeuristic for me. It is clear that the male readers are meant to be sitting back and enjoying some Harley skin, but it doesn’t sit right with me. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to Harley Quinn, but there is something degrading about seeing the actual character reduced to some eye candy. This series was doing so well at giving us a strong Harley figure, but this has just taken the ‘sexy’ trait to the character too far. For me, this does not work and is not something I want to see in future issues.
Thankfully, the burlesque club is actually little more than a narrative device to get the real story rolling. Harley, in a punch-up in the burlesque club, gets knocked out and taken hostage by a police officer. Or at least, she thinks he is a police officer. It turns out that he is an obsessive stalker that wants to lock Harley into a cage, until she falls in love with him. Of course, Harley Quinn has a way of making the madcap, even madder, so it isn’t long before she is treating the cage like a throne and having her hostage-taker run errands around town. This was a really funny scene and showed Harley in a position of power. If I was to pick hairs here, I would have to mention that this story still revolves around how hot Harley is. The writers try to cram in as many euphemisms for ‘ass’ that they can. I don’t mind this form of sexual innuendo in the comics, as here it degrades the men in the story, rather than Harley, but seeing as it does closely follow the burlesque scene, it feels like a small improvement, rather than winning me back over.
Thankfully, Harley Quinn is never anything less than laugh out loud. It always has a joke just around the corner to keep me entertained. Sure, the burlesque scene annoyed me, but the hipsters in the crowd were worth a chuckle. The hamster still has a bullet hole taken out of him from a while back. The endless Staten Island jokes. It was hilarious to watch Harley break down the Miranda rights in such a funny fashion. The gags keep hitting the mark so well, how can I truly write this comic off. Harley Quinn is a tough character to write for and no matter how good previous issues have been, we must respect that this is always a tricky challenge. This is one particular issue where the writing lost its way, yet the jokes kept it on a steady enough course to avoid total failure.
And one interesting note: the first page introduces a new over-arching storyline. One of Harley’s tenants has a son in prison and has a plan to spring him out that involves Harley. Just a taste of what’s to come, but it helps keep us riveted.
Quote of the Issue:
Hipster 1: I’m going to titter how dismayed I am to all of my followers.
Hipster 2: Me too! I’ll insta-slam the ass off this place.