Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Harley Quinn and Power Girl (#1-6)

"I've had it!  I'm tired of being in space! I'm tired of everything being completely bonkers!" - Power Girl

Well I couldn't let ladies month end without featuring DC's most popular and bankable female character.  No not Wonder Woman silly billy!  She's like 75 years old, how unhip!  I'm talking about quirky clown woman Harley Quinn, who first appeared in Batman: The Animated series and was once in an abusive relationship with the Joker. Now  she's in a much sexier and healthier relationship with Poison Ivy.  If you're a confused Marvel Zombie reading this, well think female Deadpool - antihero, comedic sociopath, fourth wall breaker and pansexual soon to be seen in a Suicide Squad movie near you. I know her best from her appearances in the Arkham videogames but she's moved on since then as a part of the New Suicide Squad and has several series of her own. It goes without saying she's surviving the DC Rebirth, I just hope she keeps having fun that's all (she's keeping her writing team so it's looking good). This miniseries has her teamed up with an amnesiac and somewhat confused Power Girl who Harley's convinced her she's the sidekick of and whose history is so complicated and so tied up with the various "Crisis Crossovers" it's like a continutiy klein bottle.  Basically she's the Earth-2 cousin of the Kal-L Superman, Kara Zor-L not to be confused with Supergirl, the cousin of Earth-1 Kal-El Superman, Kara Zor-El and... oh fuck it just read the wikipedia summary if you need more than that.  What you definitely need to know is this miniseries is filthy, in that way kids will miss while the adults can't stop giggling.

It's written by the writers of Harley's solo series, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, with a third writer Justin Gray joining them. Stephane Roux is on main art duties, though other artists contribute to some of the issues too when there are drug trips and flashbacks to be portrayed.   I like the art, it captures the madcap goofiness very well.  Also I like the way Harley and Power Girl are drawn.  Of course Power Girl has a big boobs, but she's drawn muscular and voluptuous rather than a stick with tits stuck on.  And Harley has a nice curviness to her as well as opposed to the skinny goth I often see her portrayed as.  I approve anyway.  So what's the backstory behind this minseries, lets check the back cover blurb and see:

"Hey, remember the panel gutter between panels three and four of page twenty of HARLEY QUINN #12? What?  You DON'T? It's only, like, the most memorable panel gutter of the twenty-first century!  We'll jog your memory - our heroes, Harley Quinn and Power Girl were tossed through a teleportation ring, dropping them into galaxies unknown?  Well either way, have we got the miniseries for you, in which the full tale of that momentus, momentary pause can be told!"

Oh like that is it?  Hopefully this gives you a clue as to how utterly silly this tale of perky loon Harley Quinn and the perenially bewildered and exasperated Power Girl is.  So lets continue.
Our story begins.
The first joke is that this is the second time they are sent through a teleportation ring by Clock King and Sports Master.  The first time is chronicled in Harley's own series and saw them fighting an entity called Manos.  They used his toe ring to get back but Power Girl didn't have it when they instantly got sent back through the same ring, only to emerge somewhere else and where this silly story begins proper.

Harley: "Hey where are we at pussy cat?"

Power Girl: "Nowhere good".

They have a look around and meet a creepy little guy who talks like Yoda.  When they repel his sexual advances he sics a hydra on them, "he's so cuuuuute!" squeals Harley.  Then one of the heads eats Power Girl and so Harley jumps on one head and starts pounding.  Power Girl bursts out of the hydra and they continue fighting.  Harley manages to bully some weaponry out of the Yoda-guy.

Harley: "When life gives you lemons... put down the damn lemons and get yourself some extraordinary ordinance!"
Harley is easily pleased.
Between them the Hydra is vanished.  Then Harley accidentally shoots Power Girl with a rocket which sends her careering back into a giant robot head, which them activates and scans them both.

It recognises Power Girl as Kara Zor-L, "initiating love nest protocol" it says much to her confusion.  Inside is seventies style pad, scented with "Lord Vartox's favourite cologne.  Acquired on his last visit to Earth in 1974".  The head starts flying, saying it will take them to Lord Vartox.

However Vartox is in a sticky situation, a galactic tyrant called Oreth Odeox has him in a torture device and is trying to break him. All the while his minions take over the planet.  The Giant Head fills in our heroes on the situation:

Giant Head: "Oreth Odeox is a cosmotyrant that has taken it upon himself to clease the universe of hedonism".
Big Giant Head No.1
Then the Giant Head is attacked and crash lands.  Harley and Power Girl climb out and are immediately accosted by Mo'zit Blaqhed, the sector's Judicial Magistrate.  He assesses Power Girl:

Mo'zit: "Skin tight clothing, unacceptable levels of cleavage, possible karflippian toe, lack of undergarments, sleeves but no pants, suspected prostitution..."

And Harley blows his head off with her tiny gun.  Power Girl is all "what the hell Harley?" and Harley insists she didn't know the gun was that powerful and anyway he was pissing her off.

Then Power Girl gets blasted in the back by some minions and she punches them all out before crushing Harley's gun.  Some ragged refugees appear and recognise Power Girl, at first they think she is an android, then are delighted to find she is the real thing.
Groovicus Mellow.
The leader introduces himself as Groovicus Mellow, Lord Vartox's head science dude.  He says he was there when Lord Vartox took her for a mate after a contraception bomb had been exploded sterilizing their planet.

Power Girl: "Stop.  I am aware there is a multiverse.  I know this because my timeline died and I'm the sole survivor.  Also this whole Earth-2 thing happened.  Therefore we know there are other me's out there.  Time is a flat circle and all that."

Groovicus has his mind blown by all this, but Power Girl demands to know where they can find a teleportation ring and are told Lord Vartox has one.

He's been moved to the "Lust Moon of Lustox" and they can take one of the ships docked a few miles away to get up there.  Then more minions of Odeox arrive through a crack in space.  Many, many arrive.  Harley tells Power Girl, "betcha wish ya didn't squish my widdle raygun now d'ontcha?"

Power Girl tells Harley to get the others to safety while she buys them some time  Groovicus says he knows of a place, "the Love Lair".

Harley: "Will there be food and refreshments? Fruity-flavoured lubricants maybe?  Edible undies?  Lollipops shaped like - "

Groovicus interrupts to say if they rescue the people they can have their hearts desire.  Power Girl meanwhile is still bashing henchmen pouring out of the portal, must "shut that space hole" she thinks.

Down below, Groovicus, Harley and the others bump into a robot called "Killy McHappy 2.0".  He says his job is to collect refugees and humanoids attempting to escape Odeox.

Killy: "Because the palace is forbidden, I am authorised to sew your orifices up".
Harley and Groovicus have a whispered conversation about getting a weapon.  Groovicus says they have none having stopped their brutal ways three thousand and fourteen years ago.  Harley asks if they have a museum with any in?  Killy interrupts saying he can hear them and now it is time to "commence the sewing of orifices."

Power Girl is still fighting, "must... cork... that cosmic crack." She lands back on the planet and gets hit in the back by an energy blast.  Harley and Groovicus are fleeing Killy, who kills the rest of them.  They come to an art gallery with erotic statues in it.  Harley is told they are sculpted with "Hard Light".  She is given a pair of gloves to manipulate light and makes a giant mallet.

She pounds Killy into a more appealing looking robot form, a giant rabbit.  Groovicus says it is as if the universe approves and Killy says "This is an opportunity to reinvent myself as art".  But then Harley smashes him to bits.

Harley: "Just so you space hippies can understand.  That was an expression a'my anger, which in itself is an artform".
Harley's weapon of choice.
The stunned Power Girl is being manhandled by minions when suddenly a group of women and one man teleport on to the scene and rescue her.

They introduce themselves as Envio, Firefox, Sala Mandarr, Carnal and the one male member, Cherub.  Power Girl is confused, and Envio asks if she is jealous?  They are the "XGF" the "Ex-Girlfriend Force" which annoys Cherub because he isn't a girl and just because he was a one night stand doesn't mean he doesn't count!
The XGF and Cherub.
They are all exes of Vartox here to rescue him.  Harley then makes an entrance on a motorbike and starts attacking the XGF until Power Girl tells her they are friends.  Harley has also found a spaceship to take her and Power Girl to the Lust Moon, but not the rest.  The XGF have their own ship.  Meanwhile Odeox has finally broken Vartox and turned him into a slave, "what would you have me do Master?" says the newly evil Vartox.

Groovicus is also aboard the ship.  Harley starts recapping the story so far, saying "I'm monologue-ing in a Hunter S. Thompson voice" when asked by Power Girl what she is doing.  They fly over a canyon filled with phallic towers and huge statues of scantily clad women.  Lord Vartox built it during his fifty year long "celibacy trials".
They are then attacked by more flying minions. Harley and Power Girl go out and fight them. The XGF look on, saying their priority is Vartox.  But Cherub says he is going to go and lend a hand and leaves their dong shaped spaceship in a shuttle.  He ejects from it and causes it to explode, taking out the enemies, and asks for a lift back with Harley and Power Girl.

They rejoin the ship to find Groovicus with a cosmic bong on his head and the ship full of smoke.  This triggers a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" trip.

Harley: "I was startin' to feel a little light headed.  Suddenly there was a terrible growl all around us an' the sky was full of Batmen...!  We had two bags a' catnip, twenty-five rounds a' hollow point bullets, half a bag a' fried bacon and three copies of the Death Of Superman".

Power Girl tells Groovicus again that this version of her has never met Vartox and that there are many parallel universes and versions of themselves, which blows his mind some more.  Then they spot a bald man on the side of the road who might be Spider "Transmetropolitan" Jerusalem.

Bald Man: "You're travelling outside of continuity, constantly morphing and adapting.  But I can see you're not enjoying this part of the voyage."

Power Girl comments it feels a bit like "filler" while Harley says it's not the destination it's the journey.  Anyway they decide to return to reality.
A trippy diversion.
They arrive at the part of the moon where Vartox was being held, but then their ship is shot down.  Groovicus says the energy signature was Vartox's but he's never seen it so dark.  Also the blast hit the ship right on the toilet area which was where Cherub was at the time.  Vartox appears and says by the time he is through with them:

Vartox: "...You too will wish you were blown to bits while seated on the commode!"

"I like him already!" pipes up Harley.  Power Girl can't believe any version of her dated that.  The XGF ship has also been shot down and crashed.  Vartox attacks them with his eye-beams.
Evil Vartox.
Harley retaliates by drawing a butt in the sand.  "Vartox does not appreciate your comicality in the face of extinction" he responds.  Power Girl punches him far away, then Groovicus pleads with her to try and reason with him  Reluctantly she agrees but they end up brawling and he accuses her of trying to distract him with her costume.  Then he blasts her with a powerful energy beam.

"Beg for mercy you heftily chassified hussy!" yells Vartox.  "I don't beg" responds Power Girl and they fight some more.  It actually looks like Vartox is getting the upperhand when Harley appears riding a giant horned cat called a "Caticorn."  He picks up Power Girl but is grabbed by Vartox who starts choking her.  She does big sad eyes at him and he releases his grip. 
No one can resist the Purr.
Then the Caticorn starts purring and Vartox begins to calm down.  Harley then gives him a heart-to-heart talking about relationships and hers in the past especially:

Harley: "Love makes ya crazy, Mistah V, but sometimes ya got so mixed up an' crazy in love, y'can't tell that yer sweetie is nasty an' your relationship is toxic".

She tells him that he and Power Girl have a beautiful thing and Vartox finally returns to his old self thanks to the purring and pep talk, although somewhat confused as he can't recall his actions as a bad guy.  So the sex machine was soothed by a giant pussy, eh?  See? Sheer filth!

Then Power Girl punches him and we get a flashback as to how Harley found the Caticorn.  She decided to follow Power Girl after she punched Vartox away the first time.  She came to a lake and a giant fish monster leaped out to try and eat her, but the Caticorn snatched it out of the air and ate it saying Harley made good bait.
Meeting the Caticorn.
Vartox then passionately kisses Power Girl who shouts "unsolicited!" and throws him away. He returns and kneels before her, asking for forgiveness. He tells her that not long ago his people faced extinction, he sought her out on Earth and they had many adventures before they repopulated the planet using a "pregnoray", much to Harley's amusement.  Then the rest of the XGF arrive on the scene.

Vartox: "Vartox doesn't see Cherub.  Has he come to regret our evening of vigorous recreation?"

Cherub, somewhat battered, appears saying he doesn't want to talk about being blown out of a restroom at thirty thousand feet.  Satisfied Vartox is safe, the XGF teleport away.

Vartox enlists Harley and Power Girl in taking down Odeox.  Odeox is ready for them though and unleashes sexy "attack nuns" (sex none?).  Power Girl takes on the nuns while Vartox and Harley face Odeox.  Odeox fires an energy blast at Vartox which blows off what little clothes Vartox is wearing.
The sight of Vartox's "diamond pillar" proves quite a distraction to Odeox, and Power Girl zaps and punches him to the ground, "we're done here" she says as she knocks Odeox out, but not before he tells her he's summoned something called "The Harvester of Sorrow."  At this news Harley can only say, "Aw, crap.  This isn't going to go well".

"I don't need all of this drama in my life.  I mean look at that!  How does one fight that?"  Power Girl is looking at the Harvester of Souls, a gigantic floating bearded head.  Power Girl grabs Odeox and hurls him at the Harvester and he disappears into on of the head's pores.  Harley asks what is it the Harvester actually does?  Harvest sorrow says Groovicus unhelpfully.

Vartox: "Harvester speaks the language of the mad.  He brings misery to entire solar systems planting seeds of hate so he can feed from the minds and bodies of all sentinent life."

Power Girl asks how they can stop it.  Groovicus and Vartox says they can't, "we're screwed" says Vartox.  "What's all this 'we' stuff?" asks Harley.  Give them the teleportation ring and they can go home.
The Harvester of Sorrow.
Vartox asks if they would abandon them in their darkest hour?  Harley says they saved him, they didnt sign on for overtime with "the space head up there".  But Power Girl says they are heroines, they don't run out on people and as she gives this inspiring speech, the Harvester blows them up.

A concussed Harley is revived by her Spirit Animal, not in fact a beaver, but a handsome man in dark glasses.  He encourages her to create a motorcycle using the Hard Light Gloves and she drives off inside the Harvester to fight it from the inside.
Harley attacks from within.
She is instantly attacked by minions, and a gummy substance is shot at her, and starts to cover her up.  She is turned into a giant jelly baby, while a recovered Power Girl and Vartox battle the Harvester outside.

Harvester: "You are now the property of the Harvester.  Please remain calm during the brain drain proceedure.  Subject's brain...bzzz...waves indicate ab-ab-abnormality.  Possible incompatibility with... zzzrrrrrr...possible contagion-n-n-n.  Potential... vir...vir... virus alert!Inzzzzzfection!

The Harvester takes on the face of the Joker.  Harley says it got into her head, and she got back into his, "an' with me came Mistah J".  As the Harvester starts to short circuit she jumps down, still a bit brain scrambled and rips off Vartox's moustache and throws it at Power Girl.

Harvest announces, "nucleus self destruction imminent" and Power Girl punches Vartox away for being about to say she was having her period, and carries Groovicus and Harley to safety as the Harvester explodes.
Oh Hell Yes.
Vartox returns and his moustache magically grows back.  Power Girl demands the teleportation ring like, now.  Vartox says he has it and goes down on one knee as it is also a wedding ring.  "Oh HELL no!" says Power Girl at this turn of events.

The final chapter shows the preparations for the Power Girl and Vartox wedding or as Harley puts it, "DC Entertainment Presents... The soon-to-be satirised cultural institution of mau-wage!"  The ceremony is being conducted by a giant blue Elvis impersonator alien.  Harley is crying and Vartox thinks she is jealous of his and Power Girl's love.

Harley: "Yeah, that, an' this is the last issue a' the mini-series an' there is still no Power Girl ongoin' book!"

Such a shame, and the DC Rebirth isn't going to be debuting her with one either.  Power Girl just wants the ceremony over with so they can get home.  But the descriptions of married love Elvis Alien is giving makes her turn and march off saying "forget it.  I'd rather walk back to my dimension".

Vartox says it is only a symbolic ceremony so she returns and says "skip to the end".  But Harley says she wants to do the "Ojection!" thing.  But saying that opens a portal up, "Umm, what's with this ostentatious opening?" Harley asks.  Then it sucks the three of them plus three purple cats that were wandering round Harley into an idealised American suburbia.
Vartox's family theme park.
Out of a house nearby a huge horde of kids comes running out shouting "Dad!" at Vartox.  The eldest introduces himself as Vartox Junior and says Power Girl looks like his mum, who is standing in the doorway of the house and says "Hello darling.  It's been a while" to Vartox.

Harley cracks open the popcorn and sits and watches things unfold with Vartox Junior next to her.  Power Girl thinks Vartox was creepy enough to seek her out in different universes and marry her and punches him into the house.  Then Vartox's Wife punches Power Girl calling her a "home wrecking hussy!"

Power Girl tries to explain to her that she just wants the teleportation ring, but Vartox's Wife punches her again saying "I... don't... care".  Then she zaps Harley with her eye-beams and as she chases after her, punches Vartox as well for good measure.  She finds Harley and the three purple cats bouncing on a trampoline.  Before she can hurt her, Power Girl smashes her into the ground and as she crawls out of the crater, Vartox's Wife is revealed to be a robot.
Robot Power Girl is not amused.
Harley yanks her brain cables out finishing her off, while Power Girl drags Vartox back having tied him up with steel girders.  "Vartox senses you're judging him" he says to the both of them.  Harley says she thinks having a family theme park is a great idea, which leads Power Girl to say that proves how crazy it is.

She releases Vartox and says "Portal. Now."  So he sadly opens it.  He starts making a speech about how much he loves Power Girl and how she stole his heart and... turns to find they left without listening to him.

They pop back out on Earth and the Clock King and Sports Master realise they are in big trouble now.  As Power Girl rips off her wedding dress, Harley declares it "an actual superhero cliffhanger".  And with that this silly, silly miniseries ends, the story continuing in Harley's own series.
And they're back home.
I really enjoyed this mini.  It's not big, it's not clever, but I had a big grin on my face as I read it.  It's bawdy and a little vulgar, full of double and single entendres and we see more objectified manflesh than we do female despite Power Girl's boob window.  The pairing of the super serious and super confused Power Girl with the wisecracking, freewheeling Harley Quinn is inspired.  Power Girl makes a fantastic straight-woman and her general diplomacy of punching things makes for an amusing running joke. I love the idea of setting a whole six issue miniseries full of rude jokes between the panels of an on-going series.  I've actually been tempted to check out Harley Quinn's solo series now, the writing team has impressed me that much here and based on volume one which I have read now, it's just as hilarious and anarchic (expect to see it on my blog later in the year).  Stephane Roux's art as I said in the intro, fits the tone perfectly, whether it is Harley's glee at finding another tool of destruction she can play with or Power Girl's eye rolling annoyance at yet another stupid situation that has developed, he really nails it every time.  Layouts are chaotic and the pacing hectic which is as exactly as it should be for a story like this.  It's bright, it's fun, and an absolute blast to read.  If you're even a fairweather Harley Quinn fan you should still read this. Great stuff.


  1. Some thoughts:
    i) There's nothing wrong with sexy skinny goths, you racist!
    ii) I do hope that the entity called Manos is a reference to this piece of celluloid superbity:
    iii) I wish i had a flying robot head that contained a '70s shag pad - i might then have more luck with the ladies.

  2. 1)I apologise for my prejudice against skinny goths, but is it wrong to prefer my women with more va-va-voom?!

    2) I haven't got that far with Harley's solo series but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Manos: Hands of fate references.

    3) I too would like a flying 70's shag pad. As a lady lure I am sure it would be tres effective.

  3. My weakness for Gothic waifs IRL may have prejudiced my view of their use in fiction, i shall admit. I have absolutely no problem with a more voluptuous depiction of femininity, too: variety is the spice of life and that!:)

    I am going to the Deed Poll office to change my name to Groovicus Mellow.

  4. Indeed. Huzzah for ladies of all shapes and sizes!

    Groovicus Mellow is a fantastic name, but I feel it needs an big afro worn to accompany it :D

  5. Harley is hilarious! I've really liked her since she first appeared in the cartoon and her New 52 comic was actually even better than her one before it to. Im glad shes sticking around for the dc rebirth too.

  6. Yes, and I have heard she's getting a film of her own after debuting in Suicide Squad too. Hopefully it'll be as anarchic and silly as her comicbook adventures :)

  7. I am sad that Power Girl will forever be seen as a joke character and side kick to Harley Quinn now. :(

  8. Awww, I've got a real fondness for Power Girl and I thought she came off just right here, she sticks up for herself, punches things a lot and general acts like most normal people would in the company of Harley. Of course I'd like her to have her own series, but as a guest star I thought she worked great here. Let's not forget Amanda Conner has written various Power Girl series in the past, which is probably why she picked her to co-star with Harley.

    Hey considering that post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Peej was made an Atlantean, given a virgin pregnancy and had the child grow to adulthood in a week, fight a monster with eyeballs in his knees then fly off after telling her to "get a life", if she survived that, she can survive Harley :)

  9. This comic left me cold. I don't want to say that one of the comics chosen by my mate Kyoko Pops was not a good un, so I'm blaming my asexuality and low zaniness tolerance.

    Harley Quinn is right about relationships, though.

    Power Girl is supposed to be as powerful as Superman, whom lots of people treat as a living god, so I can see why people get sad if she is used for comedy purposes. But at least she hasn't had two awful films made about her that turned her into an emo, like her cousin.

  10. Ah there's nowt as subjective as humour, which is why I'll always respect an attempt at comedy even if it ain't my particular cup of lapsang. It is VERY zany though, which I have a particular weakness for so Harley appeals very much to me.

    DC seems to be doing some mining of their back catalogue recently with pre New 52 stuff being collected and released. If this miniseries was them testing the waters for Amanda Conner's run on Power Girl being released, I'd be a happy camper. I never get tired of her getting annoyed and punching things :D