I have a lot of respect for writer Matt Kindt. He truly impressed me with Deadshot's villains month issue and his zero issue over at Valiant's BLOODSHOT was pretty incredible. He can clearly thrive when it comes to dark material, but when dealing with Harley Quinn, there's a degree of levity and/or fun expected to be thrown in there, too. While Kindt does provide a good laugh in one of the earlier segments, he opts to steer away from the expected route and focuses on a seriously grim analysis of the character. We know Quinn is at least thinking of suicide in her upcoming run and this shockingly bleak course of events can illustrate why. Her search to understand madness has left her totally numb. So numb, in fact, that she has no gripe randomly blowing up a police station filled with people or slaughtering dozens of innocents -- including children. It's quite unsettling and clearly that's the intention.
Neil Googe and Wil Quintana's pages are filled with energy and the book looks great overall. There's some superb use of motion in the intro and everything else feels lively and animated. There's a huge array of engrossing expressions and their take on the Joker is appropriately disturbing. I wouldn't say this style's the best fit for some of the grim material, but it's still fantastic illustrating and coloring nonetheless.
This is a very dark direction for Harley. She's killing with absolutely no rhyme or reason and it doesn't matter who it is. I totally understand it's to show she's lost -- physically and mentally -- but the tone sinking so abruptly really hit me the wrong way. At first, she was only beating people up to get the desired pieces for her costume (yes, that's how she formed her costume), but then to show how numb she's become, the measures she takes go completely over the top. It was a drastic and shocking tonal shift which felt like it was purposely trying to go above and beyond to reach its desired objective. I don't consider myself an overly sensitive man by any measure when it comes to violent content, but the increase in violence and who it impacted rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it'll resonate with some of you and help set the character on a new path, but for me, it stripped away the character's charm.
The issue has a wonderful splash page where Harley is surrounded by memories of her earlier life and what has lead her to this point, but then we dive into those exact memories. It feels like an unnecessary retread, especially since her origin story was already told in Adam Glass' SUICIDE SQUAD. Yes, there's a change here and there, but for the most part, it feels like a redundant experience.
Minor gripe: The solicitation claims to reveal how Quinn joins the Suicide Squad but that isn't seen.
This issue is every bit as twisted as Harley Quinn's New 52 mentality. It's commendable Kindt went against the expected (aka an issue full of laughs and wackiness), but unfortunately, he went too far in the opposite direction and has -- to me, at least -- transformed Harley Quinn into an irredeemable and unlikable character. The tone took a majorly drastic shift and left me feeling like the chaos was simply trying to go too far over the top. It will, however, be interesting to see how Quinn is handled in the future since Kindt will be writing her in SUICIDE SQUAD and she'll apparently have a more comedic vibe in her upcoming solo.