You have to give Palmiotti and Conner points for how they handle Harley. The book is mostly silly adventure with a side order of cheesecake, but they manage to work in some serious issues in the background. This issue is even more slapstick/cheesecake than normal, and they still pull it off.
Speaking of pulling things off, Harley and Ivy take a vacation together at what proves to be a nudist resort. That’s what happens when you let someone else make your travel plans. So expect a lot of jokes about being naked and as close as you can get to nude pictures in mainstream comics. But, amid the hijinks, they get in a few serious notes.
Harley has been getting notes that make it seem like the Joker is still interested in her. We get a flashback to their first session when she was still Dr. Quinzel, not Harley Quinn. It’s every bit as disturbing as it sounds. But it’s not big, showy, Joker as clown rampage. It’s the side of him that’s the very disturbed psycho-killer. The scene reminds me a bit of thrillers like Silence of the Lambs, but Hannibal is a lot more likable.
The other reason for this trip is Harley asked Ivy to move in with her a while ago. They don’t make a big deal of it, and don’t get preachy about it, but unless I’m seriously misreading things, both Harley and Ivy are bi, and they have is more or less an open relationship. These are serious themes and they’re handled well. Ivy’s decision is a two page conversation without cartoon violence, nudity, or any other distractions. It’s really nicely done.
Plot: The writing here is really impressive. I like how they handled so many things, getting in lots of the book’s usual humor but adding in some really good, solid scenes. I’ll give the plot a 4.5 out of 5 this month.
Art: One of the things they do well in this book is switching art styles within the same issue for emphasis of different things. There’s a cute dream sequence done in the Animated Series style (where Harley got her start), the “normal” look for most of it, and a much different, colder look in the Joker scene. I’ll give the art, too, a 4.5 out of 5.
Positives: All the above. Changing art and artists, serious themes in an overall silly book, handling some grown up stuff without getting on a high horse about it. Much to my surprise (not that I don’t enjoy the book) this may have been my best read of the week. And that’s in a week when the Titans with Nightwing and Flash came out.
Negatives: My only real complaint is the way they handle the clothes. No, I’m not fussing about a lack of actual nudity, I’m not that kinda fanboy. But EVERY SINGLE outfit Ivy wears doesn’t need to be green with a leaf motif. Ditto Harley with black and red motley. We know who they are by now. And no one wears the same thing all the time.
In case you couldn’t tell, this issue really impressed me. It was some great writing and art. Even if you’re not a Harley and/or Ivy fan, I suggest checking it out.
Harley Quinn #8
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Artist: Chad Hardin, Andrew Robinson, Bret Blevins
Colorist: HiFi, Andrew Robinson
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Amanda Conner & Alex Sinclair