They say never judge a book by its cover, and yet comic books in some sense urge us to do so. Comic book covers are in essence what hook many of us into purchasing a comic in the first place. A good comic cover is based on this premise, and great comic covers not only hook us but actually tell us something about what awaits us inside.
Many DC titles of late have had something of a dissonance between what is depicted on the cover and what occurs inside the book. Forever Evil, for example, has impressively drawn covers depicting events that rarely seem to come to pass. Harley Quinn however is not one of those titles. The cover for issue #2, as drawn by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts, juxtaposes the horrific and the adorable for a sublime comedic effect. This is exactly what occurs within this issue’s pages, and it could very well be posited as an apprehension of Harley herself, if not a convention of the series.
But I digress…
This issue sees Harley continuing to settle into her life as an independently wealthy landlady, whilst fending off a near endless stream of assassins. She begins by touring a wax work museum dedicated to infamous killers. Harley’s indignation at animal suffering carries over from issue #1 as well, as Harley attempts to adopt, and thus save from being euthanized, an entire adoption center’s worth of animals. Initially her attempts are met with failure until Harley decides to call upon an old friend.
The reunion of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in New 52 continuity has been something many fans have been waiting for. Thankfully this reunion works, without giving off a sense of laboured fan service or jaded exploitation. In prior continuity, Harley, it could be argued, is defined more by her relationship with Ivy than she is by her relationship with the Joker. Particularly as Ivy was forever trying to get Harley to realise her strength and value as an individual. Conner and Palmiotti in a few short pages create the sense of these two as old friends, without having to resort to Ivy lecturing a naive Harley on her latest woes. In fact, the reunion scene is actually quite humorous with its dash of innuendo.
In fact, the “are they / aren’t they” aspect of Harley and Ivy’s relationship could so easily and cheaply be exploited. Instead, without giving too much of the plot away, Conner and Palmiotti remind the reader once again why this title is safe in their hands, favouring tenderness over sleaze in a page that understands, encapsulates, and repackages a classic comic pairing for DC’s still relatively new continuity.
Harley Quinn #2 by DC Comics is out now. Even without the zany hoohaa and bias of my review of the previous issue, I still implore you to buy this one too.