The folks at DC loaded for bear on this one: a seventeen artist stable where each got a shot at rendering Harley and they all swung for the fences. When DiDio and Lee announced a competition for a page in this book, that spirit went viral. Stand-outs include Stephanie Roux’s twist on the action hero stereotype, Sam Keith’s Jabba the Hut Joker, and Adam Hughes’ out-of-panel Harley headshot. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s script stitch this showcase into a story by breaking the fourth wall as they discuss each rending with Harley and crack jokes about their colleagues. I imagine a lot of chuckles were had as this book was edited and hardcore DC fans will certainly share in the mirth. Kudos to DC for releasing a book that is clearly aimed at the hardcore rather than the new readers. It’s a marketing gamble that I really hope pays off as I’d like to see more books with this much talent behind them.
The first thing that came to mind as I set this one down was how the hell are they going to follow this up? In the last couple of pages we get clued into the opening storyline (which I wouldn’t call compelling), but its Chad Hardin must really be quaking in his boots. He’s got to know that everyone who picks up #1 will be comparing his work to the 16 others that contributed to this issue. That’s a lot of pressure and I hope he can use that to fuel his fire. My only beefs (and I admit that they’re a bit nit-picky) is that I found the narration scheme a little tough to pick up on at first and some of the comic industry jokes were inside enough that the casual reader will need Google as a copilot to get them.
By skipping a repeat of Harley’s origin and cranking out a stunning display by a multitude of great artists, this team has crafted a rare gift. Don’t skip over this one!
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