COMIC BOOK REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN VOL 2: POWER OUTAGE / AUTHOR: JIMMY PALMIOTTI, AMANDA CONNER / ARTIST: CHAD HARDIN / PUBLISHER: DC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The previous volume of DC’s Harley Quinn suffered from trying too hard. DC clearly understood that they had an entertaining and wacky villain in Harley Quinn and made it resemble Marvel’s Deadpool a little too much. Luckily, by Volume 2, they’ve scaled back a lot of the wacky violence and the result is a funny, quirky and clever book that actually works.
The plot is broadly irrelevant; we have elderly cyborgs, roller derby girl shenanigans, utterly doomed burlesque, and one of the most unlikely superhuman team-ups that you’ll see in comic books - Harley Quinn and Power Girl. The book has learned how to ram its tongue straight into its cheek and sends up DC’s rather rotten history with female heroes. The result is laugh-out-loud funny and at times the arc plot even looks like it’s going somewhere.
In addition to an actual storyline, we also get three fun standalone stories. First we get a Future’s End tale, basically a story about Harley’s final days. It’s a deliberately cliché-packed desert island-style romantic comedy though, of course, this is Harley so it doesn’t end at all well. Next up is a pastiche of San Diego Comic Con, and takes a gently mocking look at the biggest geek event in the world. Harley has to deal with hordes of fanboys, cosplayers and the tedium of running a stall, all whilst trying to get her portfolio seen by someone at DC Comics. Fourth wall smashing it may be, but it’s also quite funny. The last solo story is a reasonable shot at telling Quinn’s origin story without being too mawkish or dark. It works reasonably well, but it’s hardly a ‘secret’ origin, more just a reminder as to what the character is (and in case you’ve forgotten, Harley Quinn is a murderer).
The artwork is consistent and lovingly done, breaking the standard DC Comics mould, and the book really benefits from this. Okay, so it’s filled with hyper-cute cartoonish characters and there are a lot of drawings of pretty women throughout the book, but in the context of a very silly comic strip this works. Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Power Outage is a huge improvement on the last book. Let’s hope they keep it up.
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