“108 Million Ways to Die”
This issue is a standalone one shot. It is perfect for anyone who has never picked up a Harley comic and doesn’t want to hunt down past issues (though you should because you are missing out).
The 4th issue stands out because it takes Harley outside of her element. Way outside. What I that means to say is that she becomes Harley Quinn International Woman of Mystery. This is foreshadowed on the first page where we see faded images of the Taj Mahal and St. Basil’s though we don’t see Harley actually at these places until later in the story. It begins with Harley reflecting on what had just happened on Coney Island. She sees Fire and Rescue picking up the pieces (of people). This beginning part of the comic is intriguing because this is one of the few times where we see Harley reflecting on a disaster. I thought this was a nice change of pace for someone who is not above poop jokes and is always talking about her appetite while in the middle of fighting zombies. We see Harley actually questioning these occurrences without her extended cast. Usually, Harley is characterized as zany. In Suicide Squad, she is a mercenary for hire with a weird sense of humor. In her own comic, she is a loyal friend who just happens to have a very ‘strange’ work life balance and will tell you about it over buffalo wings.
“Did I tell you about the Robot Dinosaur I trashed the other day?” Harley says while munching on chicken fries.
I really liked the line where Harley states “Apathetic authorities or aliens…it doesn’t matter now.” It neatly explains the over the top scenario while providing a plausible explanation. This is what I love about Palmiotti and Connor’s writing. They take it so out there and provide a reasonable explanation (or plausible deniability) that it just fits into her world. We also see that she tries to help out Nate of Nateman’s hot dogs after the incident and she receives ‘frank’ advice from a competitor named ‘Frank’ on what the meaning of life is. We are treated to several pages of Harley being ‘serious’ about her life choices. It’s a breath of fresh air considering how impulsive she is most of the time.
The ‘meat’ of the story is about Harley going to Mumbai with Bolly Quinn (Shona) to stop a ring of scammers who have made phishing calls to senior citizens who have been bilked out of their savings. The Russia connection plays in after it was revealed that they were the true masterminds behind the international scam. That’s it? Where is the punch line? Harley and Bolly fight a giant robot that is the security for the building that the scammers are in and the robot was manipulated by either a very small man in a diaper or a baby who could talk. Harley then spanks him. Looking at it now, maybe it was a nod to Batman saying ‘Be quiet or Papa spank!’
I actually like Harley in realistic settings outside of her element which is why I preferred this just a little more than Harley and Power Girl in space.
Artist Joseph Michael Linsner takes over the visuals here. It is a feast. I like how he made Harley have thicker thighs and he contributes to Harley’s ever changing image by giving her a new outfit (a jacket with a peplum) and bangs. . I also noted how in some panels, Harley had this ‘Betty and Veronica’ esque vibe going on.
Verdict: A fun ride.