Friday, 18 July 2014

Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International #1 Review (Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti)

Harley Quinn #0 was one of my favourite single issues of last year. It contained a multitude of artists drawing single pages as Harley, in a sugar coma after binging on junk food, dreams herself in a variety of costumes and situations. Though I’ve stopped reading the series as it’s gotten progressively less brilliant since that issue (that Sy Borg story was the last straw!), I picked up Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International #1 because I was hoping it’d be as fun and creative as Harley Quinn #0. It’s got lots of artists, it’s meta, it should be great, right? It should be – but unfortunately isn’t.

Much like the Con itself, Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International #1 is a chaotic blend of references and scenes smooshed together in an oversize space. The threadbare plot sees Harley helping out her Coney Island tenants selling… merch(?) for some reason, and then she tries to get her comics work commissioned by a famous editor and land herself a gig as a professional comics artist. “Hilarity” ensues.

First of all, her tenants do some weird fetish carny sideshow in Coney Island – why would they feel a presence at Comic-Con would be necessary? Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti should just throw Harley at the Con, without the pretence of a plot, because this whole issue is a gimmick and it’s not supposed to make sense – embrace that, maybe even acknowledge it! Second, since when has Harley been a comics creator and harboured a desire to be published? Oh, since the start of this issue. Well, that’s certainly not contrived!

But like I said, any semblance of a plot seems unnecessary as it’s secondary to Harley running around being Harley. She de-pantses a Batman cosplayer, she goes for a joyride in a limo with a gang of Harley cosplayers, and she meets one DC exec after another in a series of bizarrely corporate cameos. Hmm, this last one – did anyone want to see Dan DiDio appear in a comic? Because I sure didn’t!

And that’s what’s weird about this comic: while you initially get a sense of the crazy, overwhelming nature of Comic-Con, rather than spend time referencing the Con itself or exploring its myriad aspects, it basically becomes a spot-the-DC-employee issue which isn’t funny or interesting to anyone outside of DC or those who know and care about these people. The issue’s blurb mentions that Harley battles “con crud” but she doesn’t because it isn’t really about the Con. She does meet her creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm though! It was a nice cameo but quite unimaginative – she just asks for their autographs when I feel that if Dini were writing this issue, he’d have Harley cave their heads in with the mallet or humiliate them or something. The flattery/hero worship thing seemed too polite and dull.

“Quite unimaginative” basically covers all of the scenes in this issue. Harley hijacking a limo with some Harley cosplayers, then shooting a cop in the ass was just… meh. Not to mention really dumb in how it played out. So Harley futzes with the limo driver so much that he stops the limo – and then abandons it! No limo driver would ever do that! Then, down at the police station, the cops let the gang of Harleys go because they can’t get a positive ID on the shooter. That was beyond stupid. It was cool to see the various incarnations of Harley lined up though.

By far the best part of the issue was Harley’s comic, Hurl Girl, drawn by Conner, whose toxic barf saves the world. But I wasn’t sure what the point was – are we supposed to think Harley’s a good or bad comics creator? Because the other characters look upon her work as terrible and it’s actually quite decent!

This issue goes on FOREVER! It’s an extra-long issue and it feels even longer because the Harley’s antics become so tiresome so soon and the jokes are so unfunny. Like when a mob appears around a famous actor who we don’t see (except for Stephen Amell, star of Arrow, who gets a cameo) and then Harley walks by quipping that she loves that person. Yeah, hilarious, guys. It’s so exhausting to get through, I actually stopped halfway through, went and read something else, and finished the second half the following day.

The worst part of the issue was the implication that Harley… did… stuff… to a room full of Jokers. That scene alone makes me glad I dropped the title as this one-shot shows the series has taken a sharp drop in quality – and just in time as DC decides to double-ship this title!

Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con #1 tries unsuccessfully to replicate the brilliance of Harley Quinn #0, and instead comes off as bloated, thrown-together, uninspired and really, really boring. There are some nice moments here and there like the Hurl Girl short and Harley riding the ’66 Batmobile, but generally it feels like a missed opportunity and, worse, an example of DC’s hierarchy having their ego’s massaged by one of their characters for all the public to see! 


Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International #1


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt the series has lost some steam.

    1. Yeah. Shame really. I so want to read more good New 52 titles besides Batman!

    2. I've completely lost track of DC, I might dip back in. See how they handle Damian's return, and of course Multiversity but overall I appear to have jumped ship *laughs*

    3. I'm looking forward to both of those things too.

      Are you reading anything good these days or are you taking a breather from comics?

    4. I'm reasonably current on She-Hulk, Magneto and Loki AkA. I think I've lapsed a bit on Batman and I'm like two years behind on Animal Man *laughs* but other than rereading Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. for a feature I seem to be mostly reading and enthused by IDW's RID and MTMTE Transformers titles.

    5. I definitely think you're right on Harley Invades SDCC. There are moments but then there are these yawning chasms in between. I kind of liked the broom cupboard bit, knowing it's done by a husband and wife team makes it more whimsy than pandering male fantasy.

    6. Yeah but... there were a LOT of Jokers, so... felt a bit porn-y.