Review of Harley Quinn: Vengeance Unlimited

Review of Harley Quinn: Vengeance Unlimited

Harley Quinn, Vol. 4: Vengeance Unlimited by A.J. Lieberman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Talk about an outlier in the Harley Quinn universe! Mr. Lieberman set her in a world of her own, apart from the quips and humor you usually expect. In their place, you get a grittier version where she stands firmly as a villain, wreaking havoc apart from any of the cast of characters throughout Gotham. Different? Certainly. Better? That’s a little harder to judge. Harley’s wit is one of her best features, and while an undercurrent of humor’s present, it’s dull and depressed, falling flat. How to balance an entire chunk of a character getting removed and set aside? The creative team didn’t need to sacrifice so much of that to stay gritty with this volume – at least in my opinion. (In comparison, Suicide Squad runs over the edge, but Harley’s off-beat humor remains intact) The ending came up skewed, as well. No one doubts Harley’s fragmented mental health, but the final chapters? They went beyond the realm of who she is within her heart (I’m reminded of Mr. Kesel’s treatment with Lewis, actually). I suppose it ties things in a loop (for someone’s timeline), but it rings wrong to anyone who knows the character that well.



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Review of Harley Quinn: Welcome to Metropolis

Review of Harley Quinn: Welcome to Metropolis

Harley Quinn, Vol. 3: Welcome to Metropolis by Karl Kesel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Maybe Mr. Kesel felt guilty for his previous volume because he definitely set out to make some improvements this time (some, but not all). Getting Harley out of the Gotham setting did wonders for her sense of self and confidence without losing the traditional character in the process. And while attempting to read Bizzaro’s dialogue could give any reader a headache (who dreamed up THAT character?!), the concept worked well. I couldn’t quite figure out the timeline or even setting (Jimmy was in space, but then we never mention space again?), and no one threw in those cute little references to other comics that I despise so much – but at least clue you in that you missed something. Discontinuity never wins much in the way of applause. However, the creative team’s segue between hell and the lead-up to Gotham City Sirens worked nicely (whether intentional or not), so I can’t get TOO angry. And the reconciliation (if one wants to view it that way) with Lewis? That settled my irritation there. All in all, it felt satisfying in terms of firmly placing Harley’s feet on the path toward independence. And I’m all for that!



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Review of Harley Quinn: Night and Day

Review of Harley Quinn: Night and Day

Harley Quinn, Vol. 2: Night and Day by Karl Kesel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I loved how Mr. Kesel started this series of Harley Quinn – as much as there were blatant touches of male dominance. And then this volume smacked me in the face. Why, why, why were there so many (incorrect) female cliches running rampant through this plotline?! Harley does have a definite character, but here she ended up twisted into this bubble-headed ditz that wasn’t worth admiring. A shopping spree, really? Focusing on romance to the exclusion of – well, everything? Everything felt discordant, other than the backstory. Oh, sure, Harley’s supposed to have the attention span of a gnat, but why? Why did she ignore everything around her? That isn’t accurate. And what the hell was the deal with Lewis? That isn’t true to her character – at least not the character she becomes down the road. It felt like the ultimate betrayal. (And maybe that’s my fault for reading “backward”) The costume-swapping is hilarious, of course, but it felt like too much of the “this is what girls do” came out in this volume. A sign of the time? Maybe. But it grated.



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Review of Harley Quinn: Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes

Review of Harley Quinn: Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes

Harley Quinn, Vol. 1: Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes by Karl Kesel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Yes, yes, I know – I’ve gone backward on the Harley Quinn timeline. (Can you cut a girl some slack? I didn’t stumble across a list of all of the comics until recently) And while I can understand wanting to keep things in order, going into the development of a character is actually really interesting. Mr. Kesel laid down the groundwork for Harley’s independence and the first breakdown of her relationship with the Joker. It’s a little difficult to read at times – both as a stalwart fan and a female – but I genuinely feel the artistic team handled the storyline well. After all, this comic series predates the Rebirth revolution. We’re talking 2007 when females in the comic universe didn’t get the proper standing they deserved. Harley holds her own in a clearly male-dominated world, and comparing her with the Rebirth series is astounding. The lines and character remain grounded and true, which I love. And seeing her come out on top of everyone that underestimates her? You have to cheer and get invested in the plot. It’s the perfect introduction for this iconic character (you know, aside from the misogynistic slant to things).



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Review of Harley Quinn and Power Girl

Review of Harley Quinn and Power Girl

Harley Quinn and Power Girl by Amanda Conner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Ms. Conner and Mr. Palmiotti remain in rare form. And who didn’t have a burning desire to know what happened in those few panels back in volume 2 (Power Outage)? It’s the perfect tongue-in-cheek humor you’d expect from Harley in space. And while it probably helps to have some knowledge of Power Girl (something I lack completely), you can get through the plot without a problem if you’re clueless. The team provides enough background and clues to help you limp along through her backstory – something they’ve always managed to do with all of their volumes. Any true fan will appreciate the diversion.



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Review of Harley Quinn: The Final Trial

Review of Harley Quinn: The Final Trial

Harley Quinn, Vol. 4: The Final Trial by Sam Humphries

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


How do you cope with heavy emotional states in a character like Harley Quinn? It’s a complicated question – one that plenty of writers have explored (at least, as far as I’ve read). And Mr. Humphries and Mr. Russell tackled it in one of the best ways I’ve encountered to date. While I wanted to throttle them for the opening of the volume (they went there; they actually went there), the handling of the final trial proceeded better than I imagined. And instead of cycling down a whirlpool of half-choked laughter the way other writers have, they launched into Meredith’s comic on comic book events. Which was so perfect and accurate, you can’t help but laugh and feel at ease. They nailed the average reader’s perception so perfectly, too. Because I HATE those stupid notes encouraging you to buy fifty different comics to comprehend a single plotline (and I don’t do it – often leaving me with a vague idea of what’s going on). Everything tied together perfectly. Well done, fellas.



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Review of Harley Quinn: The Trials of Harley Quinn

Review of Harley Quinn: The Trials of Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn, Vol. 3: The Trials of Harley Quinn by Sam Humphries

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Who says comics don’t kick you in the teeth with serious issues? (And, no, I’m not referring to the destruction of worlds) I mean, how brutal can you get, Mr. Humphries? You didn’t feel Harley had enough to deal with in her life? You had to up and give her mom cancer? It undercuts the best of the humor within the Trials of Harley Quinn – though Mirand’r is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. And putting Batman in a judgmental light of leaping to conclusions was nice to see – though that might be my personal bias coming out. You also can’t deny the hilarity of Meredith’s inserts of the Villain of the Year excerpts. They’re a pure joy to read and (for anyone familiar with Apex Lex) likely a fresh change to see a supervillain scrambling to recruit someone else to their cause.



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Review of Harley Quinn vs. Apokolips

Review of Harley Quinn vs. Apokolips

Harley Quinn, Vol. 1: Harley vs. Apokolips by Sam Humphries

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Mr. Humphries and Mr. Sebela take Harley to a completely different level – literally. And while you might need some background in other DC comics to have your footing (or, you know, watch the Harley Quinn animated series), it doesn’t take long to puzzle out what’s happening with Granny Goodness on Apokolips. And the poor endless struggle to meet finances. The team pulls off the routine theme in a new way that doesn’t make it feel tired or repetitive. And the same goes for the ever-present question of Harley’s sanity (the lack thereof?). It’s the perfect tongue-in-cheek plot that any genuine fan will rally behind and cheer.



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Review of Harley Quinn’s Villain of the Year

Review of Harley Quinn’s Villain of the Year

(Okay, it’s short enough I shouldn’t count it towards my reading goal. However, I bought it and sat up after finishing Lodestar, so I figure it’s worth mentioning)

Harley Quinn: Year of the Villain (2019-) #1 by Mark Russell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Mr. Russell is an absolute genius. Harley hosting an award ceremony for the DC villains? Is there anything better than that? Not to mention ripping off some of the most iconic dresses from the red carpet. I have no idea how it figures into the bigger event – and, admittedly, no desire to find out – but it works on its own. It’s the perfect little break for anyone who needs a quick laugh and enjoys the darker side of the comic world.



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Review of Harley Quinn: Gang of Harleys

Review of Harley Quinn: Gang of Harleys

Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys by Jimmy Palmiotti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Mr. Tieri and Mr. Palmiotti did a fantastic job of giving the Gang of Harleys their own individual niche, carving out their personalities a little more. (Not to mention filling in that gap in the storyline I knew I was missing to make sense of the Rebirth volumes) There was more to this installment, though, outlining that the majority of the villains Harley and her group tangle with aren’t one-dimensional. There’s pain taken to delve behind their actions, giving them motivation for their actions and personalities (not unlike the driving forces of the Gang, actually). And while you still won’t find yourself cheering for them, you can’t hate them 100%, either. It’s a balance that few writers manage to get exactly right (and why I love this series so much). Definitely an important addition to the shelf for any genuine Harley fan.



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