Review: ‘Harley Loves Joker’

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Paul Dini serves up a two-issue miniseries ‘Harley Loves Joker’

Since the release of ‘Suicide Squad’ there has been a renewed interest in Harley Quinn centered media and titles.  Naturally, DC decided to double down on Harley with her own stand-alone run, accompanied by tie-ins.  ‘Harley Love Joker’ is a extension of the regular ‘Harley Quinn’ title helmed by Paul Dini, the man who helped create the Harley character back in the days of ‘Batman: the Animated Series’.  While the artwork and storyline are reminiscent of the original series, the over-all effect is, sadly, a soft sell.

‘Harley Loves Joker’ begins with a nostalgic ‘Jonie Loves Chachi’ inspired plot of the dynamic duo of crime settled into their newly remodeled love nest.  This soon leads to an attempted robbery of a jeweled bird statue [courtesy of the Penguin] but Harley and Joker are thwarted by another Paul Dini creation, the super villainess, the Grison.

The Grison is a weasel-themed villain who was genetically altered for fast dexterity, acrobatic skills, and  . . .I can’t believe I’m writing this . . .she expels noxious fumes from a gland in her ass, much like a ferret or a skunk.  We also get a flashback glimpse of Harley first meeting Gabriela Matias, the Grimson’s alter ego, while they were both interns at Star Labs as college students.  Matias, much like Harley, would eventually turn to crime with her new found powers.  This gives the reader just enough pretense to allow for Harley and the Grison to have a bit of history together.

I can follow this idea, but only to a point.  Harley Quinn mini-series by Dini; sure.  Animal-themed Batman Villain; classic.  But expelling horrible gas is something I would expect of Pepe Le Pew, not from a Paul Dini villain.  Are most animal-themed characters already taken?  Of course they are; Cat, Bat, Penguin, Crocodile, loads of them.  However I am not sure what Paul Dini was thinking when he flipped through Wikipedia, found a smelly weasel, and thought ‘hey this might be a good idea’.

Over-all, ‘Harley Loves Joker’ reminds me of the old ‘Archie’ comic books, in plot, art work, and style.  Lighthearted, aimed for a younger audience, who chase down any title involving Harley Quinn.  But the use of the Grison as a member of the supporting cast was unnecessary, to say the least.  And this is coming from a guy who bought a ‘Stinkor’ He-Man action figure when he was a kid.  Yes, he was a skunk-themed villain in armor, and the figurine actually smelled terrible.

Before this issue, I said the words “Paul Dini is a master storyteller” with a sense of educated conviction.  After reading ‘Harley Loves Joker’ I am beginning to wonder if his writing style has not matured from ‘Batman: the Animated Series’, even worse, it may be beginning to backslide into a Looney Toon-styled area of plot device.  As a die hard Joker fan, and a lover of all things Dini, I would encourage readers to pass over ‘Harley Loves Joker’ and hope the weasel smell leaves with it.

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