Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Harley Quinn #10 (DC Comics)
I thought I’d do something a little different for this one. Usually, I dig into the back catalog of Christmas comic books for these posts… this time, I decided to go to the comic store and pick up whatever new holiday-themed comic book I could find for a review.
That goes to explain why today we’re looking at Harley Quinn #10, published in December of 2016 by DC Comics. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti (who inked some of the Spider-Man Holiday Special 1995, don’t you know!) and Amanda Conner, with a bevy of artists attending.
Cover price was $2.99 and I PAID $2.99 for the book. How do you like that?
Y’know, it’s funny because I thought about starting this with a description of Harley Quinn’s origins as a character, from her beginnings on Batman: The Animated Series up through her presence in comics today… but then I realized I didn’t need to do that. With her appearances in this past summer’s Suicide Squad and other DC Comics media, Harley Quinn is about as popular a character in 2016 as a lot of the more seasoned superheroes. I’m going to assume most of y’all reading this know who she is.
I will say that I am almost entirely unfamiliar with this particular version of Harley Quinn; my experiences with the character come almost entirely from the Batman Animated cartoons. I did follow her initial crossover in the DC Comic Universe in the early 2000’s but beyond that… I know nothing and I’m going to write this fresh, with no knowledge of H.Q.’s current state.
The comic begins with Harley and some supporting character on their way to a department store so Harley can see Santa Claus.
I want to be clear, I have no idea what the character to the right’s deal is. He’s dressed like a superhero… but since Harley Quinn kind of operates in a grey area for heroes, he could be a super villain. All of his word balloons are in the shapes of tools and Harley calls him Tool Bag at one point, but I think that’s supposed to be a joke? I point it out because it genuinely frustrated me although I suppose regular Harley Quinn readers probably know this guy’s deal.
When the mall Santa doesn’t show, a melee of upset kids causes Harley to get hit on the head…
and that launches us into a sort of Fantastic Voyage parody where Harley has to be shrunk down into Santa’s mind so she can save the guy and additionally, Christmas. It’s pretty clear the majority of this book is a dream sequence
(sorry if I spoiled that).
Normally when I see this many artists on a book, it makes me groan but Palmiotti and Connor have crafted a script where having different artists makes a lot of sense. As Harley descends into the mind of Santa Claus, each of the various “areas” are drawn by different artists. Probably the most exciting of them to me is Joseph Michael Lindser, who’s kind of a cheesecake comic art guy but his clean style and clear tastes fit with what this character is and his pages are pretty fun. I wish there were more than three of ’em!
I think I see what the writers are doing here; as a character, Harley Quinn is insane. It’s fitting that her comic told from her point of view would be an extreme version of her insanity and I think Palmiotti and Connor show that pretty well throughout this book. Nothing is ever taken too seriously and even the bits where there is some sort of jeopardy are treated lightly. Still, I genuinely have trouble understanding how a character like this can be endearing to fans beyond her rather “trashy” looks and extreme behavior. She’s a fun character for sure, but I don’t see how she works as a grounded lead for her own comic.
If you’re looking for a good modern Christmas superhero comics story, I can’t exactly recommend this. It’s a competent enough modern-era superhero comic though.
A couple of stray thoughts:
- The cover to Harley Quinn #12 is by Amanda Conner, one of the co-writers of the book… and it’s by far my favorite part of the book. It’s sort of a shame that nothing like the image on the cover ever appears in the story inside the book.
- I don’t know how much of a presence The Joker has in this book considering Harley’s origins, but I did like the way that he was used throughout the story as Harley’s subconscious bleeds into Santa’s. Besides the one above, The Joker (sorta) appears later in the book, drawn by Bret Blevins. The Harley Quinn I’m reading about in this one comic doesn’t strike me as being a very good #2 anymore… at least in the way she was originally conceived. It is a nice touch from the creative teams behind the book, keeping the “idea” of The Joker around while not actually having him in the book.
- I will admit, I’m an old man with old man tastes when it comes to my superhero comics… but I’ve been reading funnybooks like this one for most of my life and when I say “I was surprised at how much they were able to get away with in this comic” please know that I’m well familiar with the standards of superhero books. Still, the above panels I posted feature some PRETTY SEVERE violence… even if it is dream violence (if that works as a justification for ya). Also Harley Quinn flips someone off in this comic and that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that in a standard superhero comic… much less a holiday themed comic.