This review contains some spoilers.
Now that we have that business with the fake Joker behind us, Harley Quinn #14 marks the beginning of a new story arc. What was originally titled “Red Meat” has since been renamed “Nether Regions,” which, quite frankly, is a better fit for this series given its proud history of double entendres. But when you take into account that only the first few pages would have aligned with the “Red Meat” theme, it’s best DC went with the switch.
As to what those first few pages encompass, they see Ms. Berkowitz employ a motley crew that are not unlike vampires to, um, take care of New York’s homeless problem. Yes, it plays into some conspiracy theories and may cause some readers to roll their eyes, but it does tie into society’s growing concern over class warfare. And although Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are highly competent writers, this almost seems like an issue better explored in, say, Green Arrow.
Not surprisingly, John Timms brings his A-game as usual, but splits artistic duties with Khari Evans, who seems like an appropriate fit given their style is somewhat similar to that of Chad Hardin’s. Or maybe it’s just Alex Sinclair’s colors that help draw the comparison, but seeing Evans’ renditions of Harley on a motorcycle made me recall Harley Quinn #1 from the New 52 (now collected into Hot in the City); fingers crossed this artist gets to return in the future.
Getting back to the story itself, little time is wasted before human-sized insects from beneath the Earth invade. Yes, it happened and I was just as surprised to read it in the comic as you are to see me writing about it here. In short, they pave the way for Zorcrom, who looks a nude, steely version of Prince Nuada from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Given his power level, he seems more suited to be a nemesis for Superman, something that’s even touched on in a conversation later in the issue.
Seeing the return of Harley Sinn, however, was most welcome but unexpected. To be succinct, she’s been moved out of Arkham Asylum by some very influential people and has been hired to kill someone close to Harley Quinn, whose identity I will not divulge. Although I fully admit this made for the most compelling part of this issue, it felt very out of place.
Eventually, we do meet a superhero – Atlee – just before the story closes. Vaguely reminding me of Power Girl, I’m willing to give her a chance and see what kind of heroics are to be had in the next offering, which hopefully tells a tighter story.
On that note, I guess I’ll close by addressing my biggest complaint: This issue lacks focus. From vampires hired to kill the homeless to invading insects to Harley Sinn’s new subplot, there’s just too much going on in Harley Quinn #14. Despite the installment not having much cohesion, however, I’m still committed to reading the next. Hey, if Arrow can rebound from a disappointing fourth season, then one of my favorite comic books can do likewise, right?
Bearing little resemblance to its original solicitation, it's undeniable that Harley Quinn #14 lacks focus and juggles too many seemingly disconnected plot threads.