Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab

Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti

Artists: Chad Hardin & John Timms

Collects Harley Quinn #14-16, Harley Quinn Annual #1, Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1, Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special #1

I must confess that books centered on Harley Quinn are now among the ones that I most look forward to reading. That’s probably something I wouldn’t have said two years ago, which shows you how great of a job Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have done with this character. Not only have they succeeded in crafting pitch perfect dialogue for the Clown Princess of Crime, they continue to add to her ever growing supporting cast, which can sustain its own corner of the DC Universe without Batman having to get involved, although he does actually show up in this volume.

Most of the art duties are once again handled by Chad Hardin and John Timms, who are the perfect Harley Quinn artists. Amanda Conner should also be placed among their rank despite the fact that she mostly draws covers.

Three oversized specials are included in this particular trade, the first of which was originally printed in Harley Quinn Annual #1. You may remember this as the one that had the “rub and smell” feature. Considering that my review is based on a digital proof, I’m not quite sure if that quality was retained in the collected edition.

Scent-acular stuff aside, that portion of the book remains a highlight. It follows Harley as she breaks into Arkham Asylum to free her best friend, Poison Ivy, who has been forced to manufacture a mysterious chemical. Harley’s bungled antics cause the release of a hallucinogenic gas that causes she and a handful of other characters to go on trippy adventures, each handled by a different artist. It’s also worth pointing out that this is the story that introduced Eggy.

Next, we come to the Holiday Special, which really highlights Harley’s love for animals, as well as her insanity. Seeing her display her whimsical nature, in addition to her skills as a therapist, to bring together a family on Christmas made for an enjoyable, yet unexpected, tale. A few backup stories are included, one of which reads like a psychotic Archie comic.

The Valentine’s Day Special not only sums up everything that’s awesome about Conner and Palmiotti’s run, it alone is worth the price of admission. It sees Harley embark on a quest to win a bachelor auction with the prize being a date with Bruce Wayne. It turns out she’s sweet on The Dark Knight’s civilian persona and the line “yabba dabba do me” is something I won’t soon forget.  This really is one for all the Batman/Harley shippers. Yes, they are out there.

She, of course, wins the auction, leading to some great scenes involving she and Batman as well as she and Bruce Wayne. Any Batman fan can tell you there is indeed a distinct difference. The dream sequences had by both characters, which are again handled by various artists, are obviously pure gold.

The rest of the book contains chapters from the Harley Quinn title proper. We see her juggle her day to day responsibilities as a landlord, a therapist (may I say that Seymour Bupkin deserves a one-shot?), a derby girl, and even attempt to maintain a relationship. Between all the bits of humor, it’s worth noticing that Harley seems to be on a quest to redeem herself as a human being. This all leads to her forming the Gang of Harleys and gives the book a chance to shamelessly plug Hot Topic.

Kiss Kiss Bang Stab is perhaps the best volume in the series to date. Needless to say, this series just keeps getting better and better. It should come as no surprise that I recommend this book to all of my readers and can’t wait until the fourth volume sees release.

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