One of the best comics on the stands returns, as Afterlife with Archie starts a new arc. We’ve got a review of that, plus a look at the rest of this week’s notable comic books on the stands.
The Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1
So the first story of this book starts because Harley, who owns massive piles of pets, failed to get them all fixed, and now has to dump puppies and kittens on total strangers at the mall by hiding them in their bags of gifts.
I’m hardly an animal rights activist, but come on, really? Is Harley going to drive drunk next, and we’re supposed to laugh that off? Granted, this series and its handling have been tone-deaf from day one, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. But this kind of manic pixie dream girl/dumb broad B.S. is painfully unfunny, especially when the joke is that Harley Quinn is too stupid to know better. We’ll remind you, she’s a psychiatrist. She passed medical school.
The rest of the issue is similarly cringe-inducing, as every joke centers around Harley being a dimwit. In one story, for example, she tortures a dying old man because she thinks he’s Father Time, due to his name being Harold Thyme. At least that one has art from Darwyn Cooke, and the art is uniformly pretty good, but that can’t make up for how painfully unfunny this book is.
Spider-Man And The X-Men #1
Spider-Man has been tasked with a secret mission: Find the mole at the Jean Grey Institute of Higher Learning, because of course there’s a mole. Elliot Kalan delivers a script that hits all the expected notes of Spider-snark and surly teenagers, and Marco Failla’s art is engaging and bright, but for some reason, this book doesn’t quite hit the right notes yet. Kalan needs to tighten up his one-liners a bit, perhaps. But overall, the book’s funny and worth a read if you’re fan of either of its parts.
Bitch Planet #1
Or, The Handmaid’s Tale as an exploitation film. The basic thrust of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro’s book is that, in the future, women who aren’t “compliant” get dumped on the Bitch Planet of the title. I’m sure the book’s explicitly feminist stylings will rile up the usual corners of Comics Fandom Twitter who get huffy every time a girl tries to touch their precious panels, but truthfully, the book’s solid as an action read and DeLandro’s art pairs well with the darker aspects of the book.