Monday, January 18, 2016

Dead Horse Report: More Harley Quinn in April

So Harley Quinn got super popular for DC, and rightfully so, it's a fun book. So then the special one-shots came, like Harley going to SDCC. Clever. Annuals followed that, because why wouldn't then. Then DC tried to make the book ship twice a month (which might happen again), which didn't work because the writers couldn't keep up... Then more specials and Annuals came... then a spin-off mini series with Power Girl... then an oversized bi-monthly book... now another special... and another mini-series.

Good god DC... slow the fuck down already.

So earlier today, DC announced another special, an April Fools issue, which is at least partially illustrated by Jim Lee, which is cool. Solicit below!

Written by Rob Williams
Art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Sean “Cheeks” Galloway
Cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams
Variant cover by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway
Blank variant cover
1:50 B&W Sketch variant cover by Jim Lee
ONE-SHOT • On sale APRIL 6 • 40 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T+
Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D., welcomes you to Evil Anonymous, the support group for super villains in need; where no problem is too insane or homicidal, and where discretion is assured as only a clown princess of crime can—which is to say, not at all. But when Harley Quinn starts using her patients’ own evil schemes against them, it turns out that a much bigger, far more dangerous, and truly life-altering joke is being played on her.

Fine whatever, I can handle a one-shot... Then things got a little... unnecessary.


Written by Frank Tieri and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Mauricet
Cover by Amanda Conner
1:25 Variant cover by Mauricet
On sale APRIL 13 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $3.99 US • RATED T+
Straight from the pages of HARLEY QUINN comes the story of her strange new army of assistants, the Gang of Harleys! In this new miniseries, they’ve been on the job for just a few months, and the Gang is ready to stand up and show what they can do without Harley…and they just might have to, because Harley’s been kidnapped! The Gang’s homes, their loved ones—they’re all in danger from a strange new villain with a very personal grudge against Harley!

This needs to stop.

I don't know about you, but I've started to get burnt the hell out on Harley Quinn lately, and DC doubling down seemingly each month with her, is causing the opposite of what I'm sure the intended effect is... DC wants me to buy more Harley Quinn and I'm left wanting to buy the bare fucking minimum.

This is a classic case of too much of a good thing. I loved the Harley book back when it started coming out, it was funny, entertaining and widely different than anything DC had been doing. Since then, DC has opened the flood gates and everything that was endearing about the series early on has become diluted and nothing more than an obvious cash-in. The humor isn't funny when you're getting the same sort of thing five times a month, the characters aren't as entertaining when they're being shoved down your throat.

Speaking of the characters, as I've been saying for the past couple of months, the side characters are probably the least interesting part about the main book right now. Take Mason Macabre. He's Harley's new boyfriend... Because! Just because. That's pretty much it.

He's a shitty character with absolutely nothing going for him and a reason to give two shits about him or Harley's relationship with him has never been established, yet the hole keeps getting dug. (I legitimately hope Joker kills him in the upcoming issues).

And that's been such a problem I've been having with the book lately. Harley is an entertaining character by herself, but they keep piling on extra character after extra character after extra character after extra character after extra character. Take that first issue of Little Black Book. You know what would have made the issue way better? If it was all just Harley and Wonder Woman. That's what I wanted, not some two-bit London superhero team that got made up five minutes prior to this issue going to print.

So with that in mind, is it any surprise I immediately decided to pass on the Harley's Gang series? Sure, there have been moments in the issues that feature the gang, where one of them has a line or does something that makes me thing "Heh, that was funny."

But six issues at $3.99 a pop funny?

Fuck that.

Not once, not once have any of those characters done anything that has made me think "boy, I'd pay even more money to get even more of this." Nah, they severed there purpose, and at best should pop up occasionally in the main book. I'm willing to bet, unless you're a "IT'S STILL REAL TO ME, DAMMNIT" mark of all marks, you'll probably agree that this is a touch bit unnecessary at the very least. I have an image in my head of DC's execs in South Park Canadian styles just sitting around a board room green lighting anything that comes from this book without really giving a thought to whether or not there's a story worth telling here. They just want more money, fwiend. The messed up part is that I'm probably not that far off base.

My final point of discourse is that this wouldn't be as bad if there was a little variation here. So far, everything Harley related we've gotten has been the Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Harley. Which is great, because the book has been for the most part, pretty fun, despite an abundance of extra characters not worth a damn. Regardless, that style gets SUPER OLD when you've got a month with like three, four... five? Books all in the same style. Sure, Rob Williams is writing the April fools day thing with the Suicide Squad, so that might be different... But Frank Tieri writing the new miniseries? You mean, close friend of Conner and Palmiotti Frank Tieri? I'm guessing we're going to get more of the same.

That's why of all the Harley Quinn content I'm looking forward to this year, it's the stuff outside of the Conner/Palmiotti-verse. I'm really curious to see what Tim Seeley's take on Harley is when he takes over Suicide Squad... and there's this other thing that I sure as fuck really hope happens, but can't say anything about... Sure enough, this thing could be fantastic. Trust me... The point is, if DC is going all in on this Harley mess, at least give us some variation. Give us a mini that isn't directly tired to the main book, give us some new voices, give us something different to combat the over saturation of the same old book that has been diluted to a dull "been there, done that" type style.

TLDR: Harley's great, but you try eating five giant tubs of ice cream in one sitting and tell me it was a good idea.


  1. I agree with everything above. I'll just say that, in fairness to DC, Marvel more or less does the same thing with Deadpool. He's in various team books. He has his own ongoing. There are weird meta-specials, and team-up specials, and gimmick specials... So yeah, DC is targeting the marks just like Marvel. They wouldn't do it if it didn't work. If these sell, they have no reason to stop until people stop buying it. Sad thing is, all these Harley specials sell way more than their "legacy" characters like Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, Catwoman, and so on. Creatively bankrupt? Yep. Cash-in? Totally. But unless or until fans "vote with their dollars" that they want something different, they'll keep feeding the marks their slop. I'll be joining you in an effort to tell DC I have no interest in the cash-in.

  2. Ugh, Tieri is the worst. If he's buddies with Conner and Palmiotti, I can see why he's getting work on the series, but he drives everything he touches into the ground really fast. I also wish DC wasn't so bad about doing what you describe so well here - if something sells well, instead of just promoting that, they try to make everything that thing. The DC You attempt to find diversity was a good idea, but sadly, it came out just as Marvel ramped up their number ones, and right after a very poorly handled event that burnt a lot of fans out of interest. DC thus decided that they will frantically copy the two things that are selling well for no really good reason - Dark Knight III and Harley Quinn. Fortunately, Scott Snyder seems to really not care if DC copies him or not, and thus they don't really copy him at all. His sales are slipping a bit, but I'm fairly certain issue 50 will perk that right up, so I'm not terribly worried on that front.

    1. To be fair, Catwoman has been better than I expected. Great art helps. But it's clear somebody wanted to sweep everything Genevieve Valentine did with the character right under the rug, which feels a bit gross.

    2. Yeah, it bugs me when the subsequent writer and/or editorial do that. I think it's disrespectful -- unless the previous story arc was just terrible or out of character or they're going a whole new direction. Otherwise, I think nods to the prior writer's work is nice. Whether or not one really liked Valentine's run, I don't think it could be described as flat out bad. (I personally had mixed opinions.) But to pretend it never happened (especially when it JUST ended) is straight lazy and, like you say, feels kinda gross.

    3. Oh but they acknowledged it... just undid everything in the matter of three or four panels.