FROM THE PUBLISHER: Harley travels to Gotham City to blow off some steam with her friend Catwoman in the best way she knows how—no, not a bank robbery—game night! But the good, clean fun soon turns into a nightmare when they discover that the game is cursed, and that they’ve inadvertently turned Gotham City into something straight out of a fantasy RPG! Now, with the entire city gone insane, Harley Quinn is the only one who remembers reality…but will anyone believe her?
I’m going to start this review with a huge Keanu Reeves’ style WHOA! That’s right, I had to break out Keanu’s trademark reaction for this one. So, most of the time when I’m about to read a comic I check out its synopsis first. I think we all do, right? We want a general idea of what it’s about. Well, I didn’t for this one. I just figured it’d be the Trials of Harley Quinn storyline continued and accept whatever weirdness was coming my way. I didn’t expect this. This story is entitled Role Players: Part One.
The issue opens with Harley playing a Dungeons & Dragons type of board game with Selina Kyle in Catwoman year and Petite Tina. Harley mentions she got the game in a strange exchange but Catwoman’s not incredibly interested either way. In an effort to bring her friend into the fun she and Petite Tina are already enjoying, Harley proposes something in-game and things of course go awry. This is where the “Whoaaaaa” portion begins.
We are then transported to a medieval version of Gotham, something out of an RPG fantasy as DC put it, where Harley is locked in Arkham Asylum and her doctor is famed villain Hugo Strange. That all happens very quickly, the pacing doesn’t allow any time to linger which isn’t a bad thing here. There’s a number of other cameos including some variations on popular characters and the character behind this new Gotham switch is a fun surprise too. I want to say more but I really feel it’s best if you read it yourself. It’s a bizarre issue that honestly... I think I may love. More about that in a minute.
Sam Humphries does a great job of dropping you into the story and keeping your interest throughout. The pacing is quick where it needs to be and also allows you to breathe where you need to. Humphries sticks to his guns and goes all in on this twisted version of the city we’ve come to know over the years. I still really like the way he deals with Harley’s way of speaking too which I previously called Harley Speak. The more I read of that, the more I like it. It keeps her voice as a character unique. But, it isn’t just her who has a unique voice. The writer makes sure that every character she encounters is distinct.
This is also Otto Schmidt’s first issue as the new series artist and it is a stellar debut. I definitely dig the art style he’s got on display here. I would imagine coming up with all these different designs was a challenge but he handled it very well. I particularly like the way he draws both versions of Catwoman. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work in the coming issues.
This issue really surprised me. If you read my review of issue #60 you’ll remember I wasn’t huge on it, I thought it was fun but not the best thing on the shelves and it wasn’t a must read title. With this one, it’s a combination of things that are influencing my final rating. It continues the fun factor from the previous issue while also turning up the dial on the creative stuff. In short, it’s fun and interesting. It’s also easy to follow which is a plus and isn’t as closely tied to the Trials of Harley Quinn storyline that it’s a part of. This issue gets a higher rating than #60 for me.
RATING: LET’S GO!