Off the Shelf — Harley Quinn Volume 2: Power Outage

harley 2 cover

Nutshell:  I said I’d happily read 200 pages of Harley Quinn.  DC delivered.  I’m still happy.  Conner and Palmiotti deliver the goofy goods, keeping this series from a sophomore slump by pushing the envelope and then ripping it apart.  Gorgeous art, sly in-jokes and more issues than you can shake your badonk-a-donk at. Grade: A

Story:  So far, Harley inherited a cool Coney Island building, and made a bunch of new sideshow/vaudville-type friends.  She’s hit the roller derby, and teamed up with a Cold War superspy.  What’s next?  Well, what isn’t?  Here it’s baby neck-beards, Skate Club, super-hero-ing, and a new career…?

Best Lines:
“Where d’ya think they poop?”
“Are you sure I’m a superhero and not a stripper?”
“Power Girl!  Stop spankin’ — Y’know what?  Even *I* ain’t gonna finish that one.”

Best T-shirt Ever:
“If You Can Read This You’re A Perv”

Thoughts: Power Outage is more of what you loved in Hot in the City, and maybe just a little more bonkers.  Conner and Palmiotti take their tongues, plant ’em firmly in cheek, and let ‘er rip.  The result is a damn fine read.

There are definitely call-backs to previous storylines, but not so many that you can’t enjoy this if it’s your jump-in point.  Because let’s face it, Harley is pretty iconic at this point, and everyone knows the basics.  Still, it’s good to see that things like the scatapult haven’t been forgotten.

The best part of Conner and Palmiotti writing together are the jokes. There are so many good laughs here that even the throw-away lines are gags that other series would kill for. Plus, the NYC/NJ gags are killer too, even for this chick in B’more.  And let’s not forget the 4th-wall busting.  These two also toss in TONS of pop culture and behind-the-comics-scene references throughout, which makes it feel like you’re in the club.

The art and colors (Paul Mounts rulz) are a perfect compliment to the jokes and action, pulling readers along on Harley’s merry ride.  Chad Hardin, John Timms and Marco Failla have the same impish version of Harley that Conner has, and that kind of continuation while still keeping their personal style intact is wonderful thing.  (John Hill’s letters are also top-notch.)  Beautiful cover art — and each sketch cover too — define the breaks between issues nicely.  Because who doesn’t love to look at variant covers?  Haters, that’s who.  And that’s not us, punkin’.

What’s super cool about the series in general is Harley asks the questions readers wonder about, and notices the strangeness that are in the stories we love.  Maybe she doesn’t get an answer 90% of the time, but it’s good to know that she’s as stumped and curious as the rest of us.

I only wish the restaurants they mention here were real things.  Vladimir Tootin’s, Sum Wang, Soon Fat, Frying Nemo’s… Yeah, like you don’t wanna go to these places.  I’m betting they’d rock.

Here’s a peek at the individual bits and pieces:

  • “Some Nerd Rage With Your Birdcage?”
    Love the Norman Bates “Psycho House” image, and Burlesque Harley.  No, our nutbucket doesn’t get full naked, but she definitely was born for the theater.
  • “There Are No Rules!”
    Skate club!  Ever wonder what Harley Quinn would do if she was a roller derby queen?  Wonder no more y’all.  It’s glorious destruction. Also, a new language; Barglefartian.  And the letters in this language are far out, man.
  • “Future’s End: Crappily Ever After”
    The thought balloons in this special issue are gorgeous. Yes, they are. And also so very Harley.  And yeah, I think that’s Pepe Le Pew (or at least his cousin once removed) on Page 64.  This story gets bonus points for adding a cameo appearance by my favorite superhero…
  • “Power Outage”
    Power Girl gets knocked clean out of her series and into Harley’s.  Let the gags at the expense of the entire superhero genre commence!  Ever wonder where the money comes from, how alien worlds really work, and what the deal is with secret identities?  So do comic book creators, apparently.  And it’s a glorious day for ping’ing the powers-that be.
  • “NOT Kansas”
    Harley continues to…um…bond with Power Girl.  Naturally, hilarity (and more jabs at the superhero status quo) ensues.  Bonus: a possible hint or two and Power Girl’s next solo adventure?  Man, I hope so.  I’d read the bazoinkers outta a storyline like that. [NOTE: there’s a Harley/Power Girl miniseries on it’s way this year.  I for one couldn’t be more stoked.]
  • “Clock Blockers”
    Harley and Power Girl, along with the cutest three-eyed purple kittycats ever, are ready to take on the baddie that sent them into the universe.  Page #137 is my favorite art of the entire shebang.  I love it when an artist goes off the res and into different styles.
  • “Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con”
    The Coney Island crew heads to SDCC to vend their hearts out, and Harley’s got a great idea for a new superhero. But there’s a ton of cosplayers out there…  As with #0, this special is page after page of different artists, and yet it flows seamlessly.  This would be a great issue to take to your next ‘con, and get all the creators mentioned in here to sign it.
  • “Secret Origins: Harley Quinn”
    I’ve covered this elsewhere, so I’ll just say this: BERNIE!

There’s also a Variant Cover Art Gallery and even a few sketches. Huzzah! (My favorite variant?  Harley Quinn #11 by Conner and Mounts, where Harley is literally trying to fill Power Girl’s…um…boots?  Yeah.  Boots.)

Subscribe or Shelve: If you’ve gotten this far in this review, you need this series.  Hell, if you’ve gotten this far in this review, you’re probably already reading this series.  If you’re not, what are you waitin’ for, fruitcakes?

Publication 411: Collects Harley Quinn #9-13, Harley Quinn Futures End #1, Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego #1 and Secret Origin #4.  Hits shelves today, April 14, 2015.

[NOTE: I received a copy of this title from DC via NetGalley.  I received no compensation for this review.  Not even a taxidermied beaver.  Dammit.]

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