SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Harley Quinn” #5, on sale now.
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti continue to kill it with DC Comics’ Harley Quinn. Currently writing the character’s solo title, as well as the spinoff series “Harley’s Little Black Book,” the comic industry super-couple continue to dig deeper into the mind of the fan favorite Suicide Squad member.
Calling the upcoming arc in “Harley Quinn,” which kicks off in this week’s issue, their homage to “Point Break,” Conner and Palmiotti told CBR.com that the punk rock-themed story, illustrated by John Timms and Alex Sinclair, sets up a much larger story coming in early 2017 that marks the return of The Joker to Harley’s universe.
Just like “Point Break” – which features a very young Keanu Reeves going undercover to infiltrate a gang of surfing bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze – Harley, Red Tool, Big Tony and Egg Fu form a punk band to subvert the local rock scene as members of one band in particular, who don’t mind dressing up as ‘knights on horsies,’ are doing some very bad things on the streets of Coney Island.
Conner and Palmiotti also confirmed that “Harley’s Little Black Book” #6, which is illustrated by Simon Bisley and will arrive on November 30, will officially bring the classic Lobo back to the DCU proper.
CBR News: A punk rock version of Harley Quinn – it doesn’t get any better, does it?
Jimmy Palmiotti: She’s a character that you can have fun with, so why not have some crazy, punk rock fun?
Black Canary, based on her superpowers, is the de facto songstress of the DCU, but Harley as a punk rocker makes perfect sense.
Amanda Conner: I think calling Harley a songstress is a bit of a stretch. [Laughs] I think she fancies herself a songstress.
Palmiotti: She definitely has the attitude down. So much so that you really see it manifest in the second part of the story in “Harley Quinn” #6. Far beyond the mohawk in the first issue. In the second part, she gets on stage and shows why she’s such a bad ass. In the story, her stage name is GG Harlin, which is modeled after GG Allin.
Conner: He had a very special stage act that Harley has sort of adopted for herself. You should Google him.
Everyone talks about death and dying lasting in superhero comics but is Harley going to keep the mohawk? It looks pretty cool.
Conner: I think for a little while.
Palmiotti: I think for three-and-a-half issues. She starts growing it back in “Harley Quinn” #8. After this story, it doesn’t make sense for her, because it’s a lot to take care of.
Conner: Yeah, I don’t think she has the patience to take care of it. [Laughs] Throwing it up in two ponytails is so much easier.
Palmiotti: Amanda would know.
Conner: Yes, I know for sure. It’s so much easier.
She recruits Red Tool, Tony and Eggy to join the punk band but I’m thinking Batman may have been a better choice. What do you think Bats would play in the band?
Conner: I think that he’s a piano guy. [Laughs] Absolutely.
Palmiotti: I think he’s a soprano, so maybe a backup singer?
Conner: With his upbringing, I am sure that his parents made him take piano lessons.
Palmiotti: Regardless, he wouldn’t fit in Harley’s band. He’s not right for it. I don’t think Batman can handle what that band does in the second part of the story.
Palmiotti: I don’t want to ruin it for you but the second part is insane. We’re going over the script now and seeing what we can keep and what we have to take out of it, because it’s completely off the wall. But that’s what’s fun about writing “Harley Quinn” every week, which is what it is now. It feels like we’re writing her every week. We’re pushing the envelope in crazy places and this is definitely one of the craziest.
Conner: We’re enjoying ourselves a little bit too much.
As we’ve discussed before, what I love about Harley is this balance between stone-cold killer and something quite sweet. This story kicks off with her coming to the defense of her mailman, Ben. And it’s avenging his death that fuels Harley.
Conner: You’re right. She is a very loyal friend. If she likes you, she really, really likes you.
Palmiotti: And we love our mailman. We understand how she feels. We would hate to lose our mailman John. We have relationships with these people. We see them every day of our lives. But yes, it’s a motivator for her to get involved. And as we get more and more into the story, we start seeing other things happening.
It’s our homage to “Point Break.” It’s “Point Break” meets punk rock. And we do have some themes in the story that go back even before the books that we’ve been doing with Harley. There is a flashback scene in the second part where it’s one of the first times that Dr. Harleen Quinzel meets The Joker at Arkham. And for the flashback scene, we pulled in a favor from a favorite artist of ours: Jill Thompson.
Conner: Yeah, we got Jill. Woo-hoo!
Palmiotti: Jill painted the flashback scene in watercolor, and it’s beautiful. It has everything to do with what’s going on in the story right now. This three-parter is probably the craziest and wildest thing that we’ve written for the character, but it also has a lot to do with what’s going to happen in the next half-a-year in the book. It’s a big arc for us, and this three-parter definitely sets up a bigger story that we are going to tell.
We meet a new foe in “Harley Quinn” #5 named Jello and she takes a necklace and pendant that has “J ♥H” emblazoned on it intended for Harley, so my guess here is that The Joker may be involved, and Harley is not going to be too pleased.
Palmiotti: Yes. We learn where that came from in “Harley Quinn” #6. After this story arc, we have Harley and Ivy taking a vacation in the Bahamas, and that leads into what comes next. And yes, that thing around Jello’s neck is the catalyst for a lot of insanity in the two issues that follow. I think John Timms and Alex Sinclair have done their best work ever on this. These three issues are amazing looking. You would never know that this was a bi-weekly book.
You mentioned a flashback to The Joker. Are there long-term plans to bring The Joker into “Harley Quinn” in real time?
Palmiotti: In “Harley Quinn” #11, #12, #13, around then, we are going to deal with something with The Joker, yes. There is stuff coming that will play out in real time. It has a lot to do with the past. It’s our job working with the character and on the book to not only give you the character but give you more about her. We are going to learn a lot of new stuff about Harley that we didn’t know before but totally makes sense for the character. There is a lot coming. The hard part for us is that it’s bi-weekly and the easy part for us is that it’s bi-weekly. [Laughs] We can tell these bigger stories that are all interconnecting, and people don’t feel like they are waiting forever to get the next story.
You’re also writing “Harley’s Little Black Book,” and I’ve seen some preview pages for #6 that features the Main Man, Lobo. And it’s drawn by Simon Bisley, who is about as punk rock as it gets in comics. What can you tease about the upcoming Harley/Lobo mashup?
Conner: We’re having a little bit too much fun with Simon. He’s knocking it out of the park a little too much. We’re probably going to get in trouble. That said, the pages look amazing. We’re having a ton of fun. When the pages come in, we say, “Yeah!” and “Oh, my God!” [Laughs]
Palmiotti: The characters have a lot in common because they are both impulsive. They both react to things and they both, especially Lobo, are tough on the outside and a little softie on the inside where Harley is a lot. It just seemed like a natural thing to put these two together. And what we discovered is how much fun conversations are between them – just talking about stuff.
The two of them are stuck on a planet alone, and we kind of modeled it after the TV show, “Naked and Afraid.” They’re stuck there, they have no clothes and they have to survive. And then they have to deal with each other. [Laughs] If you think about it, it’s crazy and I guarantee that whatever you’re thinking, we’ve gone crazier with it.
There is going to be a lot of word balloons that need to be moved around to cover things but the great part is that we get to bring back the classic Lobo, we get to work with Simon and by the end of the book, we get to leave the classic Lobo in the DCU. There are so many cool things about this book, plus the art you’ve seen is classic Simon. It’s some of the best work that he’s done in years. We’re really proud of it.
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