[Comic Publication Date: 2/19/14]

“I think Valentine’s Day is just about the meanest holiday there is.”
“I think Valentine’s Day is just about the meanest holiday there is.”

Just because February 14th has come and gone doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day is over, at least not in the case of Harley Quinn #3. Ever since this series launched a few months ago, Harley Quinn has been operating in a non-traditional stratosphere all its own, and lo and behold, Harley’s Valentine’s Day is less about flowers and chocolates and more about power tools and carnage. It’s the most incredibly silly issue of the series so far, though that doesn’t necessarily translate to the funniest. Harley’s adventure in love is not the best effort put forth from writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner compared to the last issues, which had a better hold on the humorous aspects of their respective stories. Harley Quinn #3 benefits from a simple but amusing premise and of course the presence of its bubbly main character, but it’s the supporting cast that are just not up to snuff this time around.

Not to harp too much on prior issues of the series, but last month’s Harley Quinn team-up with Poison Ivy succeeded because of the interplay between the two characters and their mischievous relationship that walked the fine line between innocence and fan fiction. Harley Quinn #3 does not have that same balance, so when a line like, “Giving all your attention to just your pet beaver will make you appear antisocial,” is uttered by that damnable stuffed beaver of Harley’s, it’s quite embarrassing to read. Thankfully that character doesn’t play into the rest of the issue, which has more fun as it gets going. Just the idea of Harley eating one of Poison Ivy’s special love-inducing berries and then taking to the streets of Coney Island makes for a great one-and-done story; that the issue degenerates into a pseudo-zombie scenario with Harley’s brainwashed suitors chasing her into a hardware store is a great divergence from the lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day bore.

There’s a bit of experimentation happening in Chad Hardin’s art, particularly his panel layout during the first few pages of Harley Quinn #3. His single panel shots of varying Harley emotions matched with the grotesqueries that she is experiencing while on a carnival ride offers a more exciting opening than issues past. I also like the small details that Hardin draws in certain scenes, such as the image of the now-infamous Superman/Wonder Woman kiss that Harley sees on TV when she decides she’s sick of love. There are also panels later on in the issue when Harley is madly swinging power tools at her angry mob of potential lovers that are hauntingly similar to poses of The Joker. It’s a surprise that Hardin’s latter panels is not bloodier given the circumstances:  Harley takes a weed whacker to one person’s face and jams a screwdriver in the head of another, yet the issue is surprisingly blood-free. I’m sure it was a DC editorial decision; it’s just something that was noticeable for me. Guess I’m just a romantic like that.

It’s not a reason to stop picking up Harley Quinn, but issue #3 is definitely a small step back in a series that has been spectacular up until now. Palmiotti and Conner are opting for cheap jokes when their premises are solid enough to rise above it. Mainly, this series could do with less of that pet beaver, pronto.

GNN Comics GradeVERY GOOD (7/10)

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