Thursday, September 19, 2013

No funny suicide here, but Harley dies anyway.

Since the Internet was all aflutter last week about the Harley Quinn #0 contest (try Ty Templeton's take on it, "Some Comedy Writes Itself") let's look at a couple Harley Quinn comics that I just randomly stumbled back across the other day! From 2002, Harley Quinn #17, "#1 Am the Loneliest Number," #18, "The Bride of Bizarro!" and #19, "Going Out with a Bang!" All written by Karl Kesel, penciled by Terry Dodson, and inked by Rachel Dodson.

Harley Quinn and her, um, pal Poison Ivy have only been in Metropolis a short time, but so far Harley's got a job at the Daily Planet as lovelorn advice columnist Holly Chance and stolen a swanky personal jetpack; while Ivy has the city's street-level vigilante, Thorn, captured. Using her psychology expertise, Harl realizes there's something more to Thorn than meets the eye, namely multiple personality disorder; but she has a bigger fish to fry: Bizarro! He had been at the Daily Planet to see his "worst enemy," Jimmy Olsen; who had been hitting on "Holly." Following Holly, the imperfect duplicate sees her real identity, then enlists her help in finding a bride! Harley balks at first, but quickly realizes a big dumb lug with most of Superman's powers (and some oddballs like X-ray hearing and flame breath) could come in handy, and Bizarro wins Ivy over as well, with the gift of a stripped-bare tree.

Still, none of them were prepared for the sudden-yet-not-entirely-surprising arrival of Jimmy, who shows up thinking he might get lucky, then finds Harley's costume in Ivy's plants and realizes his mistake, but is stopped from escaping by Bizarro. Jimmy brings up Lexcorp's "Bizarrotron," and Harley decides maybe they should check it out, but Ivy misspeaks her "Bizarroese" and Bizarro frees Thorn before he leaves. At Lexcorp, after the usual beating of the guards, they meet a helpful scientist, who's thrilled to meet a Bizarro. While Bizarro "hates" Lois Lane so much he'd love to spend the rest of his life with her, well, Harley's already right there, right? As the scientist scans Harley, a locked-in-a-closet Jimmy builds a signal device to try and summon Superman, but the ultrasonic noise also hurts Bizarro.

Harley tries to make a break from the berserk Bizarro, but flies straight into the real Man of Steel. Stopping Jimmy's signal, Harley tells Bizarro that Superman isn't going to let her help him, and Bizarro fights Supes, but Harley also realizes he let Thorn loose, and she and Ivy are throwing down as well. Still, Harley had one ace up her sleeve: "The Kryptonite Kiss-Off!"...which was actually glitter and dried parsley. It's psychological, see? No? Well, all right.

I like Thorn, since every time I see her it's fun.

Bizarro is less than smitten with his prospective bride, Bizarro-Harley, a grey, dour, no-fun shrew. BH does zing the real deal, pointing out at least she's not in love with the Joker--since "Joker am never in love with you." The imperfect duplicate explodes shortly thereafter, and Harley manages to wheedle Superman into letting her fly the jetpack back to jail, but instead pushes Jimmy off a ledge and makes a break for it. Unfortunately, that jetpack was experimental, and not meant for the abuse Harley was giving it: it explodes, atomizing Harley Quinn. She makes the front page of the Daily Planet (as does Ivy, brought in by Thorn) and while Superman notes Harley could've been thrown into another dimension or back in time or something; Jimmy says whatever Harley's faults, she always followed her heart, and had good intentions. Maybe.

Although there's more than a fair amount of cheesecake, the Dodsons draw the heck out of everything here. In #17, Harley's inner monologue is manifested by a little Harley-doppelgänger, doubling the amount of Harley per page! (Picture if Deadpool's little caption boxes were each a little Deadpool yelling at him...) #18's recap pages are Harley's subconscious interviewing Jimmy Olsen's brain, which he probably wasn't thinking with at the time...Although they would do covers for a while longer, these were the Dodsons last issues of interior art, while Kesel would stay with the book to #25. Far more issues than her "Puddin'" ever got...

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