“What’s with the clutching of the caboose?”
Full disclosure; I haven’t had good experiences with “funny” funny books. I found the Larfleeze series so bad that I, Mr. Completionist, dropped the book after the second issue. It pained me greatly that the first book to get a zero review on my site was a Green Lantern / Plasticman book by one of my all time favorite writers, the legendary Marv Wolfman. So with this week’s second issue of Harley’s Little Black Book co-starring Green Lantern you can imagine my reluctance to pick it up, especially with its $4.99 price tag. But seeing the team of Palmiotti and Conner are the creative force on this series I let my blue ring of Hope rule over my yellow ring of fear and decided to give it a try.
I think the challenge to writing a character like Harley where she’s the lead character in a book is that it’s hard to be “on” from a comedic sense all the time and what’s funny to some often isn’t funny to others. This issue succeeds for the most part as a lighthearted, non-canonical, tale with the humorous moments never eliciting a laugh as much as Harley just being who she is. There are some genuinely funny moments, particularly when Harley gets in an eBay bidding war (and loses) against Geoff Johns over a Green Lantern ring. Others, such as Harley thanking Obama are dead on arrival and fall far short of smile inducing.
You have to really dismiss this as being a serious tale because there are things that don’t line up with how things “really” work. Things like a red and black power ring somehow mysteriously merging into a hybrid for any reason other than to complement Harley’s fashion sense and having someone who’s never used a ring overpower a veteran like Hal Jordan, for example. But for the purpose of telling a lighthearted tale it’s okay – and given that this entire story is told in flashback from Harley’s point of view is reason enough to explain some mile wide gaps in plausibility.
Palmiotti and Conner have some fun at Hal’s expense, playing off of his playboy nature and lack of caring about the fine details. Hal’s introduction scene with a Russian femme fatale was a humorous was to play off of some of Hal’s character traits and while it was done for laughs I realized how much I missed seeing Hal on a runway and chasing skirts. It’s the first time in a very long time that we’ve seen him being Hal Jordan and not Green Lantern.
John Timms handles the bulk of the art in this issue with Mauricet handling a few pages of Harley-ites having a mini adventure of their own while enroute to spend some time with their favorite twisted sister. Timms’ art style works really well with Harley and his version of Hal is pretty good, although there are some times when Timm struggles with Hal’s face, particularly when looking downwards at him from above.
Harley’s Little Black Book #2 is a light adventure tale with as much “Harley humor” added to keep the tone on target with what the reader would expect given the character achoring the series. As with pretty much any comedy not all the attempts at humor will land on target with everyone, but in my opinion there were enough bits that worked to make it a fun experience. The issue was for me a fun departure from my normal reading material and I found it worth picking up. Eight out of ten lanterns.