Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Mauricet, Brandt Peters, Darwyn Cooke, Dave McCaig, Paul Mounts, and Dave Stewart
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: December 10, 2014

Oh, Harley. That grey hair. I feel you.

Having just passed a major round number birthday (but plagued with Reed Richards-style grey temples for ages), any caper to stop Father Time from moving on is a welcome endeavor. Throw in some ultra-rare Darwyn Cooke interior art, and I am a terribly happy camper (aging brain and all).

For their holiday special, Conner and Palmiotti treat fans to a triple threat of funny stories that find, like always, that perfect balance between outright ridiculousness and momentary expressions of heart (and smarts). When Harley can vacillate between being a cartoon character running around a more real world and a deeply thoughtful, educated woman, I feel like we’re getting the best of both worlds. And the writers hand us that today.

From the sweetness behind Harley’s pet distribution program, to the instant adoption of everyone she likes into her family, Harley Quinn represents in some ways one of the purest motivations we see in comics. Yeah, she’s nuts, but she’s also lovely, and kind, and giving. Just don’t hand her an axe, is all.

More than those moments, however, the interaction between Harley and Cindy (Lou) is absolutely delightful, as we get to see everything that makes Harley a character than transcends trope and cheers many types of fans. Plus, farting in the bathtub is never not funny.

The art throughout is disparate, although chosen well for each segment. I do get shades of How the Grinch Stole Christmas from Mauricet’s narrative, even though the story is all about giving, rather than taking. Harley and Cindy’s facial expressions are cute, although not as flat out riotous as we’ve gotten from other artists on the series.

Peters’ painted, rough brush style is very pretty and gives Santa especially a warm feel. Harley here is a little overdone, shaped out in the style of a Bratz doll, but for a short interlude, the warmth you get from Peters’ line and Paul Mounts’ colors is a pleasant experience.

The last layer of frosting in this delicious Swiss roll of a holiday special, though is Darwyn Cooke’s segment. While we so often associate Cooke with a retro style (a la Before Watchmen), it’s probably more accurate to describe his work as timeless. His Harley captures everything fun and right about her original look and feel without sacrificing a bit of modernity, and it makes the book all the more enjoyable for it.

A fun romp through Christmas cheer with a character that may represent the best parts of good will and friendship after all, the Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1 is definitely what you want to find in your stocking this year. No, not that stocking. (Then again, why not? YOLO.)

The Verdict: 8.5/10


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