Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special 1

harley quinn valentine

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, originally released February 11th, 2015.

Spencer: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti had a rough road ahead of them when tasked with refashioning Harley Quinn into the star of her own comic book. A villain protagonist must walk a fine line, being sympathetic enough to earn the audience’s affection while still villainous enough to avoid losing the spark that drew readers to them in the first place. Conner and Palmiotti’s approach to Harley Quinn has often involved pitting their villain protagonist against people even worse than she is, having her stand up for animal rights, and giving her a sort-of family in the form of her tenants; judging from sales numbers, it’s been a successful tactic, but has Harley become a better person in the process? Despite being a holiday special, that’s the question at the heart of Harley Quinn Valentine’s Special 1, and it’s a surprisingly rich question to ask, even if the answer is a bit unclear, and the question often muddied and buried within the oversized issue’s many tangents and asides. Continue reading

Harley Quinn 3

Alternating Currents: Harley Quinn 3, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Harley Quinn 3, originally released February 19th, 2014.

DrewWhen someone accuses a joke of “going too far,” they tend to mean that it is offensive — that it has left the concept of good taste behind in the pursuit of a bigger laugh. But offensiveness isn’t the only metric of taste. Indeed, I would argue that even the most family-friendly humor can take its core concepts “too far,” neglecting to cultivate the expectations that jokes are designed to subvert. Taken too far, scenarios become unrecognizable, characters become unrelatable, and irony curdles into nihilism. It’s the reason I can’t really get into Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! — I’m unable to form a frame of reference for why it’s even supposed to be funny, making the experience little more than a parade of one-note awkwardness. I found myself feeling the same things as I read Harley Quinn 3, as the series continues to stretch its own rules to the breaking point. When absolutely anything is possible, it’s hard to be surprised by a punchline. Continue reading

Harley Quinn 2

harley quinn 2Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Harley Quinn 2, originally released January 22nd, 2014.

“I think I may have found a project I’d actually enjoy doing: helping these cats and dogs. They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.”

April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation

SpencerSo far, both issues of Harley Quinn have featured its heroine rescuing animals from oppressive environments. Harley being an animal lover isn’t really a surprise—she’s basically a big kid, plus she’s canonically owned and raised laughing hyenas in the past—but it still seemed a bit odd to me at first that this book was hitting this point so hard. I suppose it ultimately makes sense, though; when writing a book featuring a villain protagonist you’ve got to make sure the antagonists are even more loathsome, and everybody hates animal abuse—even supervillains—right? Continue reading