This review is based off a volume that collects Harley Quinn #26-30
Seeing as how Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Black, White and Red All Over is the final volume to collect the New 52 run in hardcover, I would like to give some background and say what it’s meant to me personally. Before Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti took the reins, I honestly wasn’t a fan of Harley Quinn. I mean, I understood her place in the Batman mythos, but felt her to be somewhat one-dimensional when she was Joker’s henchgirl.
But now, she’s independent. She has her own supporting cast. She’s reformed. Not only that, but every issue is simultaneously funny, irreverent, intriguing, and blurs the lines between physical comedy and ultra-violence. What’s not to love?
Picking up shortly after her less than amicable split with the Joker, Harley finds herself headed back to Coney Island, where she undergoes somewhat of a makeover. Sure, this may seem like something trivial to mention, but her hair getting a “cinematic” upgrade is a bit noteworthy. Gone is the black and red look (which I preferred, to be quite honest), and in its place is an appearance more comparable to that of Margot Robbie’s in the recent Suicide Squad film. It makes sense when you consider that they’re probably trying to rope in casual readers who may have flocked to comic shops and bookstores after leaving the movie theater.
It’s not long after that she becomes acquainted with her newest frenemy, Red Tool, who is quite obviously a parody of Deadpool. For those who may be unaware, “shippers” have yearned for Harley to be paired with Wade Wilson in recent years, but seeing as how DC and Marvel probably won’t be crossing over in that sense anytime soon, this is the closest you’re going to get. And while Red Tool does have his own origin story that is somewhat delved into, I can’t help but hear Ryan Reynold’s voice when reading for him.
At first, he has a bit of a vendetta against our heroine, but that quickly segues into his bizarre attempt at courting her. Looking back knowing they’re now close allies and get along famously, I’m hard pressed not to draw a parallel between him and Captain Cold and Heat Wave on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Sure, you love them now, but go back and re-watch their first appearances on The Flash as I recently did to see what vile bastards they once were. The same could even be said for Red Tool, despite his motivations being made clear. At least you will be treated to some of John Timms’ finest artwork in the series in the process.
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Aside from having similar taste in women, I can’t relate to Toolio’s strategy of kidnapping someone in order to take them on a date and then tattooing your phone number on their bum; he’s like a hybrid of Kathy Bates in Misery and Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink. But leave it to Palmiotti and Conner to make any outlandish situation feel like just another Wednesday in this book, which is actually a testament to their writing ability. And holy innuendolee, the double entendres are rock solid as ever.
Their making up felt quite abrupt, yet was well executed. Multiple plot threads converged at just the right time to pull Harley’s freshly inked tush out of the fire. To be quite honest, I’ve become warmer to Red Tool’s introduction after taking in this arc for a second time. As I said earlier, he’s become a recurring character, so it’s recommended that you check out his first appearances here if you haven’t already.
Something that could be said about any volume of Harley Quinn is that they have a bit of an anthology feel to them but retain a connective thread. This particular installment isn’t as thick as its predecessors, but I’d have to say that applies here as well. When the Red Tool arc concludes, we’re thrust into a tale in which some of Harley’s wrongdoings come back to haunt her. Needless to say, she’s more than capable of getting herself out of any situation – even if that includes a transforming robot donnybrook. It’s as if Michael Bay and Seth MacFarlane collaborated with the intention of bringing the most absurd mech suit battle you’ve ever seen to life. At least she can now cross killing mobsters with “ass missiles” off her bucket list.
The final story included is a bit more of a standalone and serves as a fine example of the charm this series possesses. It nicely wraps up the New 52 run while also planting seeds for Rebirth and is really one of those “this isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning” situations. An undeniable highlight is that of Elsa Charretier’s artwork, which was an absolute delight. It has a bit of a Bruce Timm quality to it and, if I may say so, I hope she gets to work on the character more in the future.
Supplemental material includes the usual round of variant cover and sketch galleries, but it was cool to see an alternate coloring of Harley Quinn #30’s cover – the original of which was used for this volume – that was a bit more colorful and psychedelic. As neat as it was to see what could have been, I’m glad they went with a simpler color palette that was more befitting the character and, ultimately, this collected edition.
Thanks to a well placed “ass missile” or twenty, Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Black, White and Red All Over ended the first leg of Conner and Palmiotti’s run with a bang. Much like each volume that preceded it, it contains every quality that shows what makes this series so special. There’s a reason I find it to be one of DC’s safest bets and perhaps you will as well after giving it a read.
Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Black, White and Red All Over is simultaneously funny, irreverent, intriguing, and blurs the lines between physical comedy and ultra-violence. What’s not to love?