Marvel and DC are always copying ideas from each other in order to outdo each other and somehow gain the edge. It’s a fine tradition, and this time round its DC’s turn to take a leaf out of Marvel’s book. Namely, the new Harley Quinn comic, Hot in the City which bears more than a passing resemblance to Deadpool, Marvel’s anarchic and hyper-violent anti-hero whose wacky hi-jinks have kept geeks entertained for so long. The result is a book that is barely coherent and constantly breaks the fourth wall.
Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City begins with a post-modern round robin, where Quinn wonders out loud what her own comic book would look like. Cue a series of guest artists each doing a short pastiche of their own work in an appropriately wacky style. For the bulk of the book Chad Hardin and Stephane Roux are on hand as artists and they do seem to have a lot of fun drawing Harley. The result is a pleasing mish-mash that is very easy on the eye throughout.The story is a similar sort of mess, more of an excuse to line up Harley for the next gag or the next splash page. As a result, the plot wanders about all over the place but we do get to see some cool things such as Harley Quinn as a Roller Derby Girl. The book introduces some fun new characters as well, such an 80-year-old cyborg and wise-cracking (and dead) beaver.
All of the things you’d expect from a Harley Quinn book are here; murder, mayhem and both Harley and Poison Ivy in a series of compromising (but strictly PG-13) poses. The key problem is that Palmiotti and Conner’s script isn’t funny or clever enough to keep the reader interested for two-hundred-and-twenty-five pages. This is a real shame because the character has a lot of potential for both pathos and humour; indeed, this is the thing that makes Deadpool so popular. Instead the creators have gone for the cheap sell; they know people will buy it simply to look at the very pretty artwork and laugh at the comedic violence. Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City feels like it was written with a list of ‘what will sell’ in mind rather than an actual story and results in a disappointing book. If you must, buy it for the pictures, not the story.