Harley Quinn: Make ‘em Laugh #1 review

Her ubiquity across the DC Universe would make you believe otherwise, but Harley Quinn doesn’t spend all her time running with the super-set. Some days she freelances in her old profession of Harleen Quinzel, psychologist.

Others, she consults on security matters.

So it is that Harley Quinn and her baseball bat embed themselves at Gotham Metropolitan Museum of Art. And the Cupid of Crime (I looked that up) proves to be quite the detective, working out just who’s taking the exhibits.

I did too, and was rather pleased with myself until I remembered I’d actually seen the cover of this new DC Digital First offering. Oh well, the identity of the art thief isn’t the big draw of this comic… it’s the chance to read more of Mark Russell’s take on the DC Universe, following his recent work on the likes of Swamp Thing and Wonder Twins. Here we see a few Batman villains from his perspective, learn what art means to them and hear their commentary on collectors. And for good measure Russell throws in a new bad guy, Head Shrinker, whose name, given the look we get at his henchmen, is rather the misnomer. Interesting guy. And as drawn by Laura Braga, a bit of a hunk, if ‘gorilla’ is your thing. He certainly fills a suit nicely. And his goons are striking (and struck), I hope we see more of them soon.

Braga’s Clayface is equally good, especially the shape he’s in once ever-inventive Harley has had her way with him. I’m not terribly fond of the current Penguin design – too creepy – or Riddler look – terribly mundane – but Braga keeps them nicely on model.

Most importantly, her Harley is terrific, elegantly ditzy without the frenetic anger she’s often lumbered with. Harley is particularly adorable in medical mode, I’d certainly take my problems to her… I’m sure she’d knock some sense into me. Braga is also excellent at creating a sense of space, showing us the corners and corridors of the museum, and she conveys motion with pizzazz. Terrific colours, too, from Luis Guerrero, and letters from Marshall Dillon. Andrew Robinson’s good-natured cover is the cherry on the Mississippi mud pie.

I don’t know how many of these Harley Quinn tales DC have produced, presumably for their 100-page giants, but if they’re all as enjoyable as this 79p wonder, bring ‘em on!

7 thoughts on “Harley Quinn: Make ‘em Laugh #1 review

  1. I’m curious what past, present or current Giant features this story, if any. It looks like it might have actually be drawn for digital, unlike the Giants, because the “pages” are half-sized landscape orientation – comic strip format.

    I’d like to know exactly how anyone would even know this was released! I happened to stumble on it in Laura Braga’s Instagram, and then got notified when you reviewed it. That’s it. Nothing else to tip me off. Can find it at comixology by searching diligently – but that’s only if you already are expecting it.

    How did you find out about it?

    This was a perfectly fun little story, and I always enjoy Braga’s work. Mark Russell got some of his usual commentary in, with maybe a subtle jab at comic book collectors. (“Nobody respects art collectors.”) I’m probably reading too much into that, but it would be a fitting sentiment to include in a true Digital First, especially if it never gets printed in a “collectible” (that is, periodical) format!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had a fish around and it looks like this is a proper Digital First, and hasn’t appeared anywhere else.

      I check out DC’s ComiXology page every day to see what’s new, although I’ve subscribed to most so sometimes when something is replaced by something else, it pops up in its place.

      Like

  2. I really enjoy stories that point out in some form or another that Harley Quinn is an MD and a PhD and not just a ditzy ex sidekick reformed killer clown girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I track the Walmart Giants and the DC Digital Firsts on the Captain Comics message board, and I’m pretty sure this hasn’t appeared in a Giant yet. Mark Russell recently appeared on the DC All Stars podcast that he’d written some stories for a Harley Quinn Giant, so it’s possible these stories will eventually appear in one. Or maybe they’re entirely repurposed for the Digital Firsts program now. Time will tell. But to the best of my knowledge, they haven’t appeared in a Giant yet.

    (I’m holding out buying and reading these Firsts for a bit, hoping I’ll see these stories in Giants…but knowing that if I don’t, I’ll always be able to buy the digital copy. One of the biggest advantages of digital is that you don’t have to rush to get a copy!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the info, Rob. I’ll check out Captain Comics.

      Is that http://captaincomics.ning.com ? It looks like it.

      There’s info about the next “issue” of Make ‘Em Laugh up at Comixology, and it’ll contain 2 short stories.

      I wonder what the new team will be when the main Harley Quinn title is restarted after issue #75. Whatever team it is, can it possibly be better than Sam Humphries and Sami Basri? Steve Pugh, who drew the “Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass” book for DC, can match Basri’s expressive work. So I can hope he’ll be involved.

      But typical of DC, this is a state secret. Humphries was allowed to announce their run is ending with #75. I think Frank Cho and Guillem March (the cover artists) were totally blind-sided. Cho had wanted to go to #100. And we still know nothing at all about the reboot. Imagine if TV worked that way – we wouldn’t know Ruby Rose was off Batwoman until a few weeks before the next TV season began! You learn about TV, film and book projects often YEARS in advance. But not comics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such is comics, I suppose, constant relaunches. It’s tiresome, isn’t it? We all want things professionally, Frank Cho and Guillem March will survive. Maybe the creative changes have something to do with whatever Rich has just started sniffing out at Bleeding Cool!

        https://bleedingcool.com/comics/rumours-big-dc-comics-digital-publishing-initiative/

        It is a shame that Humphries and Sami Basri are off the book, but they may get a great new assignment!

        Like

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