Send out the clowns, because volume nine of the DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection is all about the Jezebel of Jesters, Harley Quinn. We review Preludes And Knock-Knock Jokes.
Collecting Harley Quinn #1-7 and The Batman Adventures #12, this is a sizeable introduction to Harleen Quinzel’s alter ego and eponymous series. I must say, though, I’m rather surprised this book didn’t include The Batman Adventures: Mad Love as it’s arguably the quintessential Harley story. The Batman Adventures #12 isn’t a terrible tale, per se, but it’s more about building the Batgirl character than others, so it’s an odd selection choice.
The narrative of the main storyline follows Harley as the Joker betrays her and she launches her own crime spree and gang. Along the way, she encounters the likes of Two-Face, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Riddler and Bruce Wayne. Naturally, Harley’s loose screws play a pivotal part in how everything unfolds (or degenerates), and there’s a plethora of laughs and head shakes as she tries to forge her own “unique” path in the criminal underworld.
Unfortunately, the jokes get stale quickly and the paper-thin story is highly exposed. Think of this as the equivalent of a Leon Schuster movie—you’ve seen it all before and there’s nothing new nor inventive about the plot. Throw in some toilet humour along the way, lowbrow jokes, and you can pretty much guess how this pans out.
Terry Dodson’s pencilling work draws inspiration from Bruce Timm’s on Batman: The Animated Series. However, the final product isn’t quite as polished or memorable. Dodson’s Joker, for example, looks unfinished and far less menacing than his usual grinning self. Also, his handling of female characters is over the top (even for a book that’s supposed to be OTT), with their waist diameter being the same size of their wrists and the excessively large body parts that pander to teenage boys. The uninspired pencilling job aside, credit must be given to the colouring, which is on point and captures the atmosphere perfectly.
Next to Batman, Harley Quinn’s probably the hottest character in DC Comics at the moment. Think of her as the female Deadpool. That said, Harley’s always shone as a supporting character and not as a lead. In this collection, this point is reinforced. While Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes has its moments of fun and laughter, there’s not enough to inspire me to choose this book over something else like Wonder Woman or even Batgirl.