What happens when the Joker’s best girl meets the madness that is Comic-Con?  Five bucks says “Swift and blinding violence.”  Your Major Spoilers review of Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International – San Diego #1 awaits!

HarleyQuinnComicon1CoverHARLEY QUINN INVADES COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL: SAN DIEGO #1
Writer: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Paul Pope/Javier Garron/Damion Scott & Robert Campanella/Amanda Conner/John Timms/Marco Failla/Dave Johnson/Stephane Roux
Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski/Paul Mounts/Brett Smith/Dave McCaig
Letterer: John J. Hill
Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously in Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International: San Diego:  From the Wiki: “Harley Quinn is a fictional character, a super villain in the DC Universe. The character was introduced on September 11, 1992, in Batman: The Animated Series and later adapted into DC Comics’ Batman comic books, first appearing in The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993). As suggested by her name (a play on the word “harlequin”), she is clad in the manner of a traditional harlequin jester. The character is a frequent accomplice and girlfriend of Batman’s nemesis the Joker, and is also close to the super-villain Poison Ivy, from whom she gained her immunity to poisons and toxins.  The character was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm and was originally voiced by Arleen Sorkin in Batman: The Animated Series and its tie-ins.  IGN’s 2009 list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time ranked Harley Quinn as #45She was ranked 16th in Comics Buyer’s Guide’s 100 Sexiest Women in Comics list.”  And now, she’s headed for San Diego!

“THIS LOOKS LIKE A JOB FOR HURL GIRL!”

The issue starts with a dream sequence, which is admittedly funny, but quickly shows the issue’s greatest weakness: A vast quilt of different artists working on the character.  As Harley Quinn and her friends arrive in San Diego, our hero’s face and build change half a dozen times in the first ten pages, making for a really uneven experience as a reader.  The story itself is full of in-jokes (a gag where Harley recognizes celebrities and gives an excited motor-mouth description of what they’re famous for works, a cameo by Dan Didio parodying his hands-on editorial style doesn’t) as well as the trademark slapstick violence Harley has become known for, as she jumps through hoop after hoop to show her portfolio to the editors at DC.  There’s a few jabs at eternal rival Marvel Comics, but perhaps my favorite meta-joke is that Harley’s art is ghosted by writer Amanda Conner, meaning that it’s pretty amazing, even if her writing is sophomoric and clichéd.  There is a LOT of self-indulgent in-jokery to be had in this issue, though, so those with a low tolerance for ‘wink-and-nod’ humor may not find the same fun in the book that I do.

MEETING ONE’S MAKER

As big jam stories go, the art teams aren’t diverse enough to ruin the fun (and by the end of the book, it’s a bit more difficult to tell where the seams are, as she resembles the version of Harley from her regularly ongoing series again), and the story holds together, such as it is.  There are a number of cameos that I suspect are based on real people, such as a cosplay group, as well as an appearance by the real actor who plays Green Arrow on TV, but the kicker comes as Harley meets her creators, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, fangirling and sweet-talking them for an autograph.  The ending is somewhat abrupt, but appropriate for the cartoon-influenced shenanigans herein, but the issue’s greatest barrier to greatness for me is the 5 dollar price point.  I understand that the $2.99 price point of the normal sized DC comic books makes it necessary for a double sized issue to have a bigger price tag, but given that most of the issue is in-jokes and self-promotion, I just don’t feel like there’s enough return for the investment.  Perhaps it’s different for those who actually get to go to Comic-Con International?

THE BOTTOM LINE: FUN, BUT SELF-INDULGENT

The idea of Harley Quinn as an agent of chaos and absurdity is a pleasing one (especially given the inordinately grim and serious New 52 line in general), and there are some clever bits in the issue, but overall it’s just a series of vignettes of different levels of cleverness, with many different artists contributing their own little bit.  Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International: San Diego #1 is silly, meta and chaotic, and plays to the character’s strengths, but doesn’t quite get all the rough edges sanded down, earning a still-impressive 3 out of 5 stars overall. 

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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