Taking place between panels in last year's "Harley Quinn" #11, Amanda Connor, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's "Harley Quinn and Power Girl" #1 drops the mismatched duo on a distant alien planet in the middle of a cosmic villain's quest to dispose of hedonism in the galaxy.
It's a playful, light book full of slight entendres and visual homages to various odd sci-fi films from the 70s and 80s, like "Zardoz" and "Empire Strikes Back." Much of Connor, Palmiotti and Gray's swashbuckling script also calls back to that era; this very much feels like the kind of tangential miniseries Chris Claremont would have written during the height of his "Uncanny X-Men" tenure. With six issues, the writers take their time getting anything going in this issue, using most of the real estate herein for many a sight gag or punch line rather than plot. Stephane Roux delivers solid cartooning that has a slight trouble staying consistent throughout but is still fun and plays up the cheesecake of the script without going overboard.
The pairing of these two characters is surprisingly agile, especially given the status quo of Power Girl during this time. Her amnesia allows her to play frustrated straight man to Harley's Id-fueled mania, as Harley is the only person attempting to provide Kara with an explanation of who she is even as she alters that truth. The writers have a confident handle on their heroines, which allows them to put the characters pretty much anywhere and know how they'll react, allowing them to reflect the oddball world around them.
With this party-hearty sector of space, the women interact with a pervy Yoda analog and travel in a giant head like Sean Connery over terrains from a "Duck Dodgers" short, before having to square off against a legion of purity-spreading aliens. It's a great excuse for the creative team to have fun with their characters. Everything is played for laughs and, since this story has already happened within continuity, it seems that little of consequence will play out here, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining.
Roux illustrates the women with fun, animated poses and expressions, bending physics slightly like a Warner Brothers cartoon to emphasize odd things like Power Girl side-whispering or Harley concentrating. The art has a rough, sketchy edge to it that has a lot of energy, but some pages seem a little more deadline-driven and lose character expression or detail.
The villain of the piece is an odd choice, considering his stature and design call to mind Darkseid, a villain that already exists in DC canon. With so little of the plot available at this point, other than knowing that both sides will eventually clash, it's possible that the creative team is looking to do a complete parody of, say, Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner's "Superman/Batman" arc from 2004. Time will tell, but it also makes for more of a challenge to readers making the decision to pick up this book. Their enjoyment will hinge completely on whether or not they have an existing opinion of the two characters here, though -- on the flipside -- it is a clear introduction to the tone and style one can expect from the remainder of the miniseries.
If anyone has enjoyed the writers' works on "Power Girl" or "Harley Quinn" in the past, then "Harley Quinn & Power Girl" #1 is going to be exactly what the doctor ordered.