Slight correction for the Year In Review posts. When I was calculating the artists' pages, I didn't have Harley Quinn #12, so I assumed Hardin drew it, since he also drew 11 and 13. But it was actually John Timms for most of it, so that knocks 18 pages off Hardin's total. But then I still don't know how to assess the issue that listed him and Stephane Roux as artists, without distinguishing who did what, so maybe he should get half of that. Which would still only put him at 152.
Harley Quinn #12 and 13, by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), Chad Hardin (artist #12, pages 1 and 20, and artist #13), John Timms (artist #12, pages 2-19), Alex Sinclair (colors), John J. Hill (letters) - I love how Amanda Conner draws scowling faces. I mean, I love most things Amanda Conner draws, but I really like her scowls for some reason.
Peej and Harley try to stop Clock King and Sportsmaster, but C.K. has a teleportation ring and sends the ladies to some distant world he seems to use as a dumping ground. Harley's secret is almost blown by an accountant he sent through (who had become the queen's consort), but Harley disintegrated the guy with an alien weapon she grabbed. The queen is pissed, but her husband - a giant pug - wasn't happy about her sleeping with another species, and eats her, then tells our heroes where they can find a way home. It's a ring worn on the toes of a barely veiled Thanos analogue, who they defeat (well, Harley swipes his rings and accidentally kills him), and they get home an instant after they left. Only to be immediately be shipped out again by the villains, then reappear again a moment later, having spent 2 weeks in some universe where Peej got married to Vartox. That memory loss may have also affected her decision making skills.
So try again to capture the bad guys, but Sportsmaster bought himself some tactical missile on line and tries to blow up Power Girl with it, but only succeeds in blowing up the mall (and ruining Peej's hair, which she's a little sensitive about). Eventually, 4th time is the charm, and the villains are captured later that evening. Back at Harley's place, there's an almost sort of touching moment where Harley tries to concoct an origin for Peej, and gives her two loving, super-powered Earth folk for parents. I said almost because it's still a lie, and Harley tries to excuse her lack of knowledge by saying Power Girl kept it secret so it couldn't be tortured out of Harley. And right about then, a pigeon craps on Power Girl's head and she gets her memories back. Remarkably, she doesn't incinerate Harley for all the lies, though she does leave her perched on top of the Eiffel Tower for a ill-advised suggestion.
There were parts of this story I enjoyed, and parts that felt really forced. Then there were parts that just felt skeevy. Tony implying to Power Girl that they used to be a couple felt pretty skeevy, even if it went nowhere (other than making Peej feel confused). I do feel odd that I'm not more concerned about Harley's repeated attempts to convince Power Girl to sleep with her, but they come off as Harley not being entirely serious, maybe because she knows there's no chance. Also, she doesn't try and pretend that's something they did in the past, so it's a rare instance of her not taking advantage of Power Girl's amnesia.
The cabaret show or whatever was another one of those awkward things, maybe because it's very honest about certain aspects of Power Girl as a character? Like, she's drawn as she is at least partly (OK, mostly) because guys like to look at her, but there's other aspects to her. But in that show, it's only about putting her in a ridiculous outfit so guys can gawk at her body. It's taking away any of the pretense and going strictly with what some people care about. Which is maybe too honest for me, or disappointing, because I like a lot of Power Girl's character beyond what she looks like. I don't think Palmiotti and Conner are endorsing it - it's only happening because two people are taking advantage of Power Girl not knowing who she is - but it made me feel complicit in the whole dirty trick.
All that being said, I did like most of the interaction between Harley and Power Girl, because they actually felt like friends. An odd couple, to be sure, but it sort of worked. Power Girl is the sensible, morally upright one, and Harley's the wacky one who gets them mixed up in crazy situations. Power Girl is frequently exasperated by Harley, but also kind of amused by her, and so she's kind of protective of her. I am positive that Power Girl getting married to Vartox was because she finally listened to one of Harley's plans that involved using her appearance to help them get what they needed, and it just spiraled out of control into a wedding. Plus, it still helps me that Harley encourages Power Girl to fight crime, and tries to assist her. Harley's not terribly good at, not the way Power Girl or I might define it, but she's making an effort. She isn't trying to trick Peej into robbing a bank by telling it her it's holding funds for the mob or something. They see the crooks, they try to stop them. She's at least encouraging that part of Power Girl's character.
So the story had some good points and some bad points, and probably overplayed a couple of the jokes. Which is about par for the course for this book. I really liked those comically overdone sad faces Harley gets on the last page as she pleads with Power Girl not to toss her to Saturn. We haven't really seen much of that from Hardin, at least on this book. I think it might be a good style for it, given how absurd the story gets some times. Maybe he should loosen up his style a little more. Of course, I thought the same thing about Paco Medina after seeing some of the "hallucinations" he gave Wade in Deadpool, but near as I can tell, it remained something he saved for special occasions. So I'm not holding out hope Hardin will go more exaggerated, but there's always a chance.