It’s an Episode of ‘Meet the Parents’, Guest Starring a Jealous Meangirl and a ‘Wonderland’-ful Experience in Dini’s 6th Mini Story Installment (Harley Quinn #22 Comic Review)

Harley Quinn #22

‘Family Circles’ story written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Connor

Panels by John Timms, Coloring by Alex Sinclair

Cover Art by Amanda Connor and Alex Sinclair

‘Harley Loves Joker’ story written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Paul Dini

Panels by Bret Blevins, Inks by J. Bone, Colors by Alex Sinclair

 

In the last issue, Harley Quinn’s parents were set to arrive and Harley was pulling out all the stops around the building to impress the ‘rents. Unfortunately, as per usual in Harley’s chaotic life, things do not go as planned and they arrived early, much to Harley’s shock and dismay. A few awkward hours later, things seemed on track, only to come crashing down – literally.

What You Need to Know: The Harley Quinn Rebirth solo series has been a bipolar smorgasbord of good and bad plot points attempting to come to fruition, some more successful than others. The latest issue has Harley juggling all that a questionable anti-hero can handle: Posing as a responsible psychiatrist at a retirement home, serving as the morally ambiguous landlord of a building in Coney Island, dealing with New York Police Chief as a contract-for-hire mercenary, the leader of a ragtag gang of never-do-wells and as a woman unsure of herself and her relationships with friends and would-be admirers.

Sounds like a lot, huh? It is.

The most frustrating thing of the current Harley Quinn solo series is the struggle to find Harley’s voice in all the active (and sometimes contradicting) plot lines the writers have given the character. Harley’s biggest appeal is her emerging independence and accompanying insecurity in who she is on her own, something all readers have struggled with in the past or are still wrestling with today, and the solo series is losing sight of that by muddied storylines that don’t seem to be doing the character any favors.

Harley underwent drastic changes in the New 52 reboot, developing as an independent character separate from the Joker, eventually giving him the boot and going – quite literally sometimes – toe to toe with him to prove his power over her was diminishing. She went on to form her own gang and make her own choices about who and what she was, even blurring the line from straight-out supervillain to an antihero-in-training, which is still something of a tepid subject with fans.

Amanda Conner did well with the New 52 Harley but seems unable to recreate the magic in Rebirth, instead dredging up old stories with slight changes or putting her in a myriad of situations and just hoping to laugh her way out of the confusing debacles the character has been placed into.

There are moments of hope, such as the ‘Nether Regions’ mini arc used in the earlier issues of the new series, seeing Harley teamed up with Power Girl once again. Let’s hope there’s more of that headed into the future of this series.

What You’ll Find Out: Harley Quinn’s quirky and crazy personality traits are explored here between the banter she has with her parents, who are also strange and unusual in their own way. Getting a glimpse into the Quinzel family history provides more color to the character than she’s had before, since most of her past has been highlighted around her emergence into DC cannon as the Joker’s crazy girlfriend. Perhaps she was always meant to follow this path?

Harley Sin also delivers on her promise to mess with Harley Quinn, but not as the reader would expect. What does the mayor of New York have to do with her revenge? We shall see in issue 23, one can presume.

John Timms once again does a passable job on the panels but his artistic style seems at odds with the Harley Quinn crowd. His lines are neat and recognizably masculine, which would be great for other series but one must question why he was placed on the Harley Quinn solo series. Harley Quinn is a manifestation of lovable chaos and our own insecurities and this reviewer thinks that perhaps another artist should be allowed to express this in a more whimsical style for Miss Quinn.

However, the co-written mini story by Paul Dini and Jimmy Palmiotti the end of the last several issues shows that with the right writing and the right artistic vision, it’s easy to bring back all that we know and love about Harley Quinn without overly complicated storylines. Hopefully someone at DC can recognize this and breathe some life back into this fun character in the main part of the series.

What Just Happened? Harley managed to steer the parents through a few embarrassing moments, leaving the reader to show that even Harley is subject to the same ordeals as anyone when it comes to overbearing parents and what happens when you juggle too many tasks and leave little room for personal time.  

The mayor seems untouchable by the Police Chief but when an unlikely ally joins Harley Quinn against the mayor, will the Chief take up Harley’s services once more? We’ll see.

 

Rating: 6/10

Final Thoughts: Harley Quinn should be fun, not forgettable.

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