Tomorrow I actually start that character rundown series, so a couple of quick notes. Cronin didn't specify what he meant by when he said "Top Characters", so I just went with my favorites, in case you were intending to be outraged I was suggesting one of these characters is better than, I don't know, Jimmy Olsen or whatever. Two, as far as DC goes, we're sticking to pre-Flashpoint stuff, unless I specifically mention something from the New 52. Which I can't see happening, but I suppose I could always suffer massive brain damage.
Harley Quinn #4 & 5, by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), Stephane Roux (artist, #4), Chad Hardin (artist, #5), Paul Mounts (colorist, #4), Alex Sinclair (colorist, #5), John J. Hill (letterer) - Conner always has a lot of nice details in her work. The photo of the grandma in the background giving the double thumbs up cracks me up. Especially since it's all her fault.
Harley's started work at the nursing home and her first patient, Mrs. Rubenstein, complains that her family never comes to visit. So Harley takes it upon herself to drive a bulldozer into their home and abduct them. Then she pretty much forgets about them, getting distracted by more hitmen and missing her first roller derby. At least she ran over the opposing team with a car. Her attempt to teach this awful family a lesson sort of falls apart when she learns they do visit the granny regularly, but she has Alzheimer's, which Harley didn't know, because she hadn't bothered to read her patient files yet. Oh well, nobody died at least. She is however, confronted by another of the residents, who claims to be a former secret agent, who knows who she is, and wants help tying up some loose ends with a Russian terrorist group he pursed in the '60s. Which is what issue 5 deals with. Harley getting sick of chili dogs and popcorn and having weird nightmares after reading the files on the targets. Then they go after a couple of them, although the first wasn't much trouble, being in a coma and all.
I've been trying to decide whether surrounding Harley with such oddballs is a good strategy. I think she might work better when her, shall we say unusual, lines of reasoning are contrasted with more ordinary folks. If you put her with geriatric cybernetic secret agents, there's maybe too much wackiness. I'm not certain of that, it's just a possible concern I have. I did enjoy #4 more than #5, and 4 was her terrorizing an ordinary family. 5 wasn't bad, though I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop on Sy Borgman. Harley undoubtedly still hasn't read the files, so I'm sure there's some crucial fact about him she ought to know. Then again, maybe he's exactly what he appears to be. The angry Russian lady that blew up an entire mansion they were in lends credence to the idea. Also, for some reason I'm really hoping involving the Russians will lead to the New 52 version of Stalinoivolk, assuming they don't make him crappy. He's a big, stern, super strong, super tough old Soviet killer. He'd actually be a pretty good straight man to bounce Harley's oddball behavior off. Probably not happening, though.
I did not understand the need for the extend Han/Greedo sequence in issue 4, other than to just do it, I guess. But if you're that hitman, why would you assume the role of Greedo, who you know, died in that scene? Figure out some way to be Han Solo! I mean, that's good advice in general, but especially in that scenario. At least it looked pretty good, being drawn by Roux. My favorite bit was the incredibly steamed expression Roux gave Harley after she whipped Mr. Rubenstein with his model train. It was very over-the-top, with huge gritted teeth and her nose actually vanishing, but I enjoyed it. Harley seems like the kind of character that should have really extreme emotional reactions.
As far as a costume goes, I prefer her roller derby outfit to her more standard one. The shoulder pads add a little something, even if it's just a little more color to contrast all that chalk-white skin. Plus, this Harley seems more rough-and-tumble, less cerebral, than her original incarnation, so the pads fit. The gun belt adds a little something, though it's kind of an odd accessory for Harley. Never pictured her as a gunslinger, except maybe comically large bullets that are actually boxing gloves or constrictive streamers. Plus, the derby uniform shirt actually has shoulders and sleeve holes (if no sleeves), so I'm not bothered by nagging questions like, "How does that stay up?"
This book hasn't hit that level the Conner/Gray/Palmiotti Power Girl run did, but I'm starting to feel confident it can be a solidly entertaining book each month, which isn't a bad thing at all.