Reviews

Comic Review – Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1

Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils/Inks: Mauricet (Part 1), Brandt Peters (Part 2), Darwyn Cooke (Part 3)
Colors: Dave McCaig (Part 1), Paul Mounts (Part 2), Dave Stewart (Part 3)
Letters: John J. Hill
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 12/10/14

Harley Quinn Holiday SpecialHarley Quinn pulls out all the stops for her first ever holiday special, with three stories written by creative team Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with a trio of artists along for the sleigh (or should that be “slay”) ride. While many a holiday special, on TV at least, has the Christmas joy equivalent of fruitcake, Conner and Palmiotti whip up a gingerbread house of madcap insanity.

WARNING: SPOILERS

The first of Harley’s first stories begins with her addressing a major problem: the…ahem…friskiness of her numerous pets and the result from that. Along with sidekick Tony, Harley Quinn begins giving them away (by sneaking them into bags, kids’ arms, and trunks of cars) outside of a major mall in Brooklyn. Harley, however, is depressed when she has to part with her favorite pug puppy. One invasion of an NYPD precinct and a bit of grand theft auto later, Harley has tracked the pup to a nice house (in a neighborhood a lot like my own…eep!) and proceeds to break in…only to get drunk on eggnog and falls asleep on the floor. This results in the little girl of the house claiming her as her favorite Christmas gift that year. Bribed by the girl’s father to calm down his “uncontrollable” daughter, what occurs next is an actually heartwarming tale (which I won’t spoil) about friendship, family, and pure joy. Aside from the various funny touches (such as a department store at the mall named after Harley’s creator Paul Dini), this does show Harley’s intelligence and compassion as she helps the little girl through her issues, many of which might reflect some of Harley’s own growing up. The interactions she has with the little girl are very funny, but at times are also very warm and caring, almost sisterly in her way. The art by Mauricet shows Harley off at her sexiest, but as well as her goofiest. Harley here is definitely a pin-up girl combined with Lucille Ball in her depiction. There are also some surprise cameos at the end for those who have been reading the main series which are a delight to see.

Harley Quinn Holiday Special Cover 2The second tale involves Harley’s troubles with a Hum Bug, a Mister Mind like worm that gives Harley Quinn a literal “ear worm” of non stop Christmas ditties. With this driving her mad (well, madder than usual), Harley causes chaos as she tries to discover the source of the humming in her ears. Who can save her from this? Well, who else but that OTHER Big Red Cheese, Santa! While the story isn’t as strong compared to the other two, it’s still a really funny story as Harley deals with her issue in her own mad cap manner. The stratagem to save her, which LOOKS risqué (but isn’t), is pure holiday cheese, with a bit of twisted humor. Plus it ends with kosher deli, so win-win for all. However, the art by Peters isn’t exactly working for me. The super deformed chibi style looks cute and all, but it doesn’t fit in with the other styles of the book. It does fit the story perfectly though, giving a cute and funny feel to a story that is just that. While the weakest tale of the three, it still is a good laugh from start to finish.

The final tale has Harley dealing with growing older as her first gray hair has peeked out. Tony tells her to blame Father Time, describing him as a literal being to Harley’s ears instead of a personification of time. Of course, Bernie Beaver knows trouble is brewing; and he is proven correct when Harley looks through the files of her patients at the retirement center she works at and finds a man matching Father Time’s description. One dog sled ride through Coney Island later, Harley approaches her target. Harley proceeds to berate the old geezer, and terrify his granddaughter-in-law. This leads to several hilarious misunderstandings, and Harley becoming depressed when she is confronted with her mistake. However it’s up to Old Man TYME and his new great grand-daughter to set things right. The story ends on both a high and peaceful note (for Harley and those in the old folks’ home) and a hilarious one (look at everyone else but Harley in the last panel). Conner and Palmiotti create a very good tale about aging and on living life. Old Man Tyme has the timing of a Borscht Belt Comic, and the “cure” for Harley’s problem is so easy, and funny, a baby can literally do it. This is accompanied by Cooke’s wonderful art. Giving Harley winter clothes akin to her original Batman: The Animated Series outfit, Cooke’s Harley is incredibly expressive, and hilarious. He also draws in several great background gags that add to the mirth. Cooke’s art gives this tale that classic Hanna-Barbara feel, and it makes this grand finale feel nostalgic for the holiday specials of old.

Overall, this is a very strong, and very fun, holiday special issue. While the middle part might not be as strong as the other two, it’s still far more fun than most holiday specials out there. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s heartwarming….it’s perfectly Harley Quinn.

But what will her rating’s be against her ex-boyfriend’s now classic holiday special?

 

 

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About the author

Daniel Kalban

Daniel is the writer of The Eagle webcomic and aspires to one day join his favorite writers at the Big 2. Until then, he keeps plugging away at various projects, as well as serving as a reporter for Word of the Nerd on various subjects, especially the DC Comics "beat".

Contact him at danielk@wordofthenerdonline.com

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