HARLEY QUINN #0
Written by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by various
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: November 20, 2013
I’m going to dispense with my normal flowery nonsense and just tell you what you need to know: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti did backflips through a minefield and stuck the landing. Harley Quinn’s zero issue is a triumph of humor, a fantastic art showcase, and the first time since the start of the New 52 that I felt like the clown girl I knew from childhood was really back.
The first thing to remember about this book is that this is a concept issue. It’s very different from anything else I’ve seen from DC lately, as far as tone goes. It’s going for laughs, and Conner and Palmiotti use everything in their arsenal to get them. Fourth-wall breaking, sight gags, pratfalls, industry jokes, self deprecation, taking advantage of some of their long-time friends – these are just a few tools they use to bust your gut. The special thing about this book is that only they could do it. For those who might be newer to comics, Conner and Palmiotti have been at this a long time. They have a lot of notable friends in the industry, so they can get away with a special kind of murder in this title.
I was initially bummed that there were only two ladies on the art line-up for this book, but in retrospect, this is not a book where 50/50 representation was vital to the message. The artists chosen were the best men and women for the job, and Harley Quinn has never been a “Girl Power!” character to me. She’s a co-dependent mess most of the time, and is addicted to toxic relationships. I’m just happy to see her in a costume where her goodies aren’t falling out – bless you, Amanda Conner, for that hot new roller derby look!
While I wish Conner could do all the interiors forever (she gets Harley’s face just so), regular series artist Chad Hardin is no slouch. His style is a weird blend of realism and cartoony, and while it’s not my favorite thing yet, I’m eager for it to grow on me. He only had a page and change to work with this issue, so I’m excited for what he’s got next.
I could write a novella on all 17 artists, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The book is worth buying for the Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke stories alone. I think the Cooke story means that Conner and Palmiotti are officially in-continuity in the DC Universe. Viewers of The Hangout will recognize a cameo by a familiar feline in the Adam Hughes story. Speaking of Adam Hughes, I love that Conner and Palmiotti are so merciless with their ridicule on some of the stories. Obviously, they know these people, so they are allowed to do it, but some of the jokes are very pointed. The Jim Lee story in particular had me rolling. I’m not the biggest fan of his work, but my hat is off to him for being in on the joke. Other highlights for me were Becky Cloonan’s “Quinn Reapers” page and Dan Panosian’s Mad Men-esque romp. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the winner of their unintentionally controversial talent search, Jeremy Roberts. His art fits very much in the DC house style, and as a result it’s not strictly up my alley. That said, he’s really good, people. It’s very beautiful, very straightforward, crisp superhero art. I really loved his Slim Pickins drawing. And no, there’s no bathtub scene. This actually bums me out because it would have fit perfectly with the joke they were telling.
Just when you thought you were just having a giggle at Harley’s expense, Conner and Palmiotti get crafty and sneak some plot into the last two pages. Next issue we’ll be moving with Harley to Coney Island, and no doubt she’ll have a nice, quiet time with her normal neighbors and not get into any trouble at all. The DC Universe is full of dark heroes and villains and people on the fence; Harley Quinn is here to remind us all that the darkness can be funny too.
The Verdict: The most resounding 10/10 I’ve ever given anything for making me laugh until I cried.