Harley Quinn: Be Careful What You Wish For Special Edition #1
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Art by Amanda Conner, Chad Hardin, Otto Schmidt, Ben Caldwell, Paul Mounts and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by John J. Hill and Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
It begins with Harley Quinn getting a hypodermic syringe in her backside and the story follows in a similar direction. It’s been about four years since DC Comics relaunched their fourth-wall-breaking take on the popular character. In that time, nary a season or special event has gone by without the Queen of Crazy having a comic book special to go along with it. This latest one-shot is a collection of vignettes held together by silly string and familiarity, which might just be a neat summary of the approach to the character here.
Harley Quinn: Be Careful What You Wish For is actually a repackaging of a 2016 special released as a Loot Crate exclusive. The lure here is the inclusion of an additional 18 pages of story art by Amanda Conner, whose version of Harley Quinn is arguably one of the most endearing. Structured around your basic genie lamp/monkey paw narrative device, it doesn’t take an undead beaver to remind us, “you know how this ends, don’t ya?”
After finding a genie willing to grant Harley infinite wishes, she naturally goes about messing it up at every turn. Her desire for the Joker to be nicer and more sensitive, for example, results in him being a dentist for the Commissioner and Batman. Becoming a superhero ends with the bloody death of a familiar foe. This is the kind of fun at the expense of the DC Universe that you’d expect, but this is also an issue that sees Harley making out with a male version of herself at the dawn of time.
It all kind of makes perverse sense in a way, but there’s just no consistency across this potpourri of pandering. The Justice League story is quite a fun and inoffensive poke at the white hat morality of superhero convention. Yet this is also an issue where every other panel is a “cheeky” bit of near nudity - and that’s before we even get to the Baby Harley storyline.
Be Careful What You Wish For is less of a story special than an excuse to showcase some talented artists. Amanda Conner, Chad Hardin, Otto Schmidt, and Ben Caldwell are a handful of the publisher’s leading lights, and the book certainly can’t be faulted on the art front. It’s a joy to see Conner’s art so prominent throughout this issue, with her artistic contributions predominantly limited to covers and scripting over the last few years. Hardin seamlessly segues the character from the look and feel of the monthly to this special.
It’s Schmidt’s short section that is the real standout though, with his distinctively angular style creating a scene that would not be out of place in a major event crossover. Yet the star panel comes from the expression he gives Superman upon learning of the possibility of Lex Luthor’s demise. It can only be described as a mix of surprise and cautiously embarrassed glee.
Harley Quinn: Be Careful What You Wish For will test the Harley tolerance of all but the most dedicate fanbase. More than this, specials like this make us ponder who this character even is. Harley could quite happily be the fourth-wall breaking equivalent of Marvel’s Deadpool, but in attempting to grab onto the all the audiences for the character from her 25-year history it ultimate ends up appealing to very few.