It’s that time of year! Lights, presents, Christmas trees and holiday specials. Who better to have their own special than the lovely, and crazy, Harley Quinn? Is this issue like having nicely spiked eggnog or hard fruitcake? Read on to find out!
HARLEY QUINN HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 Writer: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Mauricet, Brandt Peters, Darwyn Cooke
Letterer: John J. Hill
Colorist: Dave McCaig, Paul Mounts, Dave Stewart
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in Harley Quinn: Harley owns her own apartment building and has made friends with its many unique tenants. She’s also packed a whole floor full of stray dogs and cats and uses a giant catapult to get rid of their poop. Merry Christmas!
A HAPPY HOT MESS
There’s not much one needs to know before reading the Harley Quinn Holiday Special. Harley is the Joker’s crazy ex-girlfriend living on her own in an apartment complex she owns. This book is about what you’d expect from a holiday special: three short stories involving Christmas and a few pinups. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti continue to write a Harley Quinn that is fun and, in a way, lovable. She’s right out of a cartoon and not much of her world is grounded in reality. Granted, she’s insane but I’ve enjoyed how Conner and Palmiotti have made their own niche in the DC universe with minimal ties to surrounding events. There are three stories in this issue, none of them particularly amazing but I enjoyed it. The first, “Bad Toy”, is a bizarre premise where in a strange turn of events Harley becomes a little girl’s Christmas present. There is an odd pace and the story drops its opening idea in order to quickly get to the family. Some funny bits occur, especially when Harley and the little girl bond, and also throw up from eating too much candy. Story number two is the strangest and weakest as Harley’s ear becomes the home of a strange Christmas bug, humming Christmas music and making her even more insane. It’s surreal and off the wall; never even earning a chuckle. Finally, “Killin’ Time” sees Harley find a grey hair and try to stop Father Time from aging her. Again, crazy concept and there are some questionable moments, the biggest being why Harley has a box of patient files from an assisted living home laying around. There’s a bit of fun to be had and the ending has enough heart that it’s worth the effort All around, nothing much stands out about Harley’s Holiday Special but it’s a decent read if you’ve got the time.
JUST LIKE A HOLIDAY CARTOON
While the styles in the issue differ they all share a common trait: they look very much like a cartoon or animated shows. Mauricet’s is the closet to reality but there is much that gives that cartoon feel and the facial expressions are quite funny sometimes. Brandt Peters’ work on “Get Yer Cheer Outta My Ear” is the most like a children’s show, going as far as to make Harley look like a little girl. The coloring in this section is fantastic and looks like it was done with colored pencils (of course that’s not the case). It helped make a bland story easier to read. The final art chores are from Darwyn Cooke, which I had surprisingly mixed feelings about. Everything is up to the quality you’d expect from Cooke, but I find that Harley isn’t a character that fits with his style. Harley is very modern and Cooke is strongest when drawing the classics. Again, nothing was bad but it just felt “off”.
BOTTOM LINE: A SOLID, EH
There’s not much to expect from Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1 and not much is what you get. That’s not to say it’s horrible, just a by the numbers holiday comic. New readers may find more to love and it could be a good introduction to the character and her title but long time readers will find nothing new. Everyone involved with the art does a great job and it goes a long way to helping enjoy a rather bland book. I was neither disappointed nor pleased after reading Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1. I just shrugged my shoulders and moved on.