People read comics for different reasons. For some, it’s a matter of keeping up with the latest chronicles in the lives of their favorite characters. For others, it’s a matter of finding a momentary escape from reality. Some simply want to be entertained. Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey does all that and more.
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have returned to the character they helped evolved during DC’s New 52 relaunch initiative. There may have been some minor changes since they left the main series, but jumping back in, it feels like they never left.
Before getting into what the story is about, let’s make it clear, this isn’t an exact continuation from where Conner and Palmiotti left off. This series takes a slight leap as it heads into DC’s Black Label territory. That means it has a 17+ age suggestion and also comes in the 8.5″ x 10.875″ print format. Harley and this book’s creative team will definitely earn that 17+ rating.
The issue begins Harley and Poison Ivy taking a little vacation. Ivy is, thankfully, in her non-green-plantlike skin, and the besties are closer than ever. The two, plus Red Tool, are wearing beach attire that probably wouldn’t be suitable for the regular Harley Quinn series. It’s a good to begin the story and set up some of the zaniness we might expect. Even a certain caped hero makes an appearance at the beach in an unexpected way.
Besides adding new dimensions to her character, another one of the great things Amanda and Jimmy have done during their run is create an amazing cast of supporting characters suitable for Harley. More than just that, they’ve given her a family. This has added another layer to Harley’s often over the top personality. It’s also given the stories more substance. Having others to bounce off of helps keep Harley a little more grounded. Or at least it gives the illusion that this is the case. Regardless of how much stability Harley may have in her personal interactions, she’ll still get in some pretty absurd situations because that’s just how Harley rolls.
The released preview pages may give a slightly wrong impression of what’s happening in Harley’s life.
While she appears to be sharing a bed with her Gang of Harleys (yes, they are an actual group–see Harley and her Gang of Harleys, June 2016), this isn’t their normal sleeping arrangement. Don’t assume just because this is a 17+ book, there will be a bunch of raucous hanky panky going on. There is a perfectly logical explanation why everyone is sharing such close living quarters. Let’s just say it’s sort of Harley’s fault. It also gives Harley the motive she needs to take a trip to Gotham in order to help out her friends.
Besides being written by Amanda and Jimmy, Amanda also provides the art. In the past, we’ve mainly been treated to covers by Amanda, but we must have done something to please the comic book gods in order for us to get an entire book with her gorgeous art. Amanda’s character depictions are always amazingly crisp and highly detailed. She excels at showcasing the characters’ different expressions and easily can make a book simply feel fun.
Speaking of “fun,” it’s an enormous part of this story. Because this is a book starring Harley Quinn, it’s safe to assume things are going to get wacky. Conner and Palmiotti definitely know how to entertain. Paul Mounts colors compliment Conner’s art and gives it extra vibrance. I found myself sucked into the book not caring a bit about continuity or anything else happening in the rest of the DC Universe.
Say what you will about comic books, but I want them to be amusing and enjoyable. Harley goes all out when she has her mind set on something. There is a vigorous amount of action and laughs. Add in a guest appearance by Power Girl along with Huntress and Cassandra Cain’s role, this book is bursting at the seams with so many magnificent things.
It should also be pointed out that John J. Hill cranks things up with his various style in lettering. There is an action sequence and whether it’s bullet sound effects, explosions, or Harley’s bare fists, the font, placement, lettering style changes to perfectly convey what’s happening. Lettering is often an overlooked part of a book, and Hill really punches up the pages without his work getting in the way of the art. It’s a great blending that truly hits the right marks.
Harley may have become a sort of sweet and lovable character, but at her core, she’s still the same hardcore character you don’t want to mess with.
Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey is off to a superb start. It should be obvious I absolutely loved this book. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti know how to deliver a crazy and fun story full of intense action that also continues to evolve the main character. The creative team package is complete with the addition of Paul Mounts’ colors and John J. Hill’s letters, plus Alex Sinclair’s colors on the cover. If you’re a fan of Harley, and don’t mind some f-bombs and extreme action, you can’t pass this book up. This book delivered everything I could ask for in a Harley story. This creative team and story is exactly what Harley and Harley Quinn fans deserve.