You know the score by now: brand-new debuts, all-new creative teams, and best of all? Competitive cover prices. At $2.99 a pop, DC Comics has all but rolled out the red carpet for every kind of reader there is: new, lapsed, or die-hard. So in the ninth week of Rebirth, we continue to soldier ahead with our new limited series — REBIRTH IN REVIEW — where we’ll evaluate the latest batch of debuts from the publisher to see what, precisely, is what.
Oh, and to provide you extra incentive to pick up all these new books, we’ve included galleries of preview images from each issue alongside its respective review. We’ve embraced change! Let’s see if DC has too.
Harley Quinn #1
Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.
Art by Chad Hardin.
Colors by Alex Sinclair.
Letters by Dave Sharp.
MJ: Harley Quinn was of the DC’s biggest successes within the latter end of the New 52, so much so that her prominence in the upcoming Suicide Squad film was widely considered to be a foregone conclusion. The character’s new series, like Batgirl before it, eschews a Rebirth issue and starts at issue one, because, like Batgirl, it’s a series that certainly doesn’t require improvement or change in the new DC paradigm.
Identical in tone, cast, and visuals, Harley Quinn #1 continues directly from the last series. (The final issue of which only just came out last week. Zoinks, DC, give Amanda and Jimmy a break…!) I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. It’s just goofy, silly fun, and I am always into that kind of well-produced escapism.
The issue begins with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy catching each other up on their respective lives (or, y’know, the plots of their respective comics), and two pages of women chatting happily with each other whilst getting spa manicures and massages is both a sweet and Bechdel-test-friendly way to start off the book. Now, if only they both didn’t have their robes partially open, with cleavage and side-boob pouring out the entire time. That sort of catering to the male-gaze kinda nearly topples the simultaneous femme-positive dialogue, sadly.
However, this sequence does continue to playfully contribute to the sapphic subtext of Harley and Ivy’s relationship together, which is never not delightful. If there’s a relationship for Harley that deserves the #RelationshipGoals handle, it’s this one, and not her horrifyingly abusive couplehood with the Joker. (Idealizing that shit is some nasty stuff, let’s be real.) Harley calls Ivy “her Dandelioness,” which isn’t just pretty ding-dang cute, it makes their interplay create a desire in me that Ivy was a cast regular of Harley Quinn instead of just a recurring one. Le sigh.
Of course we get a retelling of Harley’s ickily-tweaked origin from the New 52, in which Joker drops her into a vat of chemicals to make her like him (au revoir, agency) all retold over the course of two pages. There’s no mention of her membership in the Suicide Squad, which was unexpected, considering how strongly DC is trying to link her with the film. The book takes a verrrry long time laboriously introducing nearly every single character in Palmiotti and Conner’s last run—which is then made fun of in the narrative, taking a little of the sting out of the mucked-up pacing.
By the second half (in which a zombie outbreak descends upon Harley’s Coney Island home) the pace picks up like crazy, making for a far more enriching reading experience. Chad Hardin’s art, with Alex Sinclair on colors, bounces effortlessly between cute, sexy, weird, goofy, and violent, and a few times there are very distinctively (and lovely) Dodson-esque vibes from his linework. Harley Quinn #1 is as off-kilter, off-color, silly, and sincere as the series has ever been.
7 out of 10
Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1
Written by Rob Williams.
Art by Philip Tan; inks by Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna and Sandu Florea.
Colors by Alex Sinclair.
Letters by Travis Lanham.
JJ: So here’s a hell of a thing — President Barack Obama, Expository Device. What the hell am I talking about? Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1, that’s what the hell I’m talking about. That’s right, the Commander in Chief makes yet another comic book cameo, in what is being promoted to readers as one of DC’s newest and truest core books. Nowwhat am I talking about? Since when is Suicide Squad a “core DC book?”
Since David Ayer’s movie happened, that’s what. And even though the press for DC’s latest foray into their disastrous cinematic universe has been far from kind, the cross-promotional spirit is alive and well with Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1, timed for a release just two days before it’s older, cooler sister hits theaters. And it’s just as loud, brash, and messy as those pretty damn fun trailers have led us to believe. So how does this book fare, reading-wise?
Well, visually, it’s all over the place. Philip Tan attempts to adhere to the style of Squad‘s marquee artist (and DC co-publisher), Jim Lee — he’ll be filling in with Suicide Squad #1 before too long — and there are places where he vaguely succeeds and places where he fails spectacularly. Tan is a magnificent cover artist, but his interiors are the stuff of chaos, and what doesn’t help matters is the murderer’s row of inkers tasked with getting Squad in under deadline — Scott Hanna, Jonathan Glapion, and Sandu Florea, all of whom are generally seen making Mr. Lee’s art look so damn slick. Tan has the chops, but his finesse leaves a lot to be desired.
Rob Williams’ script operates in a clockwork fashion, having the Leader of the Free World wag his finger at Director Amanda Waller while laying out what Task Force X is to any new reader who would care to listen in, only to then jump through hoops to make sure the top tier members of the team (yes, including Harley Quinn) get a moment in the sun. Their jokes are never once funny and always in bad taste — which may be the point — but the alchemy between Williams’ rambunctiousness and Tan’s wobbly consistency never gels into something that I can get excited about. Maybe it’s just an omen of what’s coming to theaters on Friday, but Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 is a whole bunch of “meh” wrapped inside far too much hype.
4 out of 10
‘Rebirth’, reviewed elsewhere —
Agree? Disagree? Are you reading ‘Rebirth’? Tell us all about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.