Comic Book Reviews (Week April 28, 2021): Harley Quinn Issue 2, Happy Hour Issue 6 & More

harley quinn issue 2 review
Harley Quinn Issue 2 (Image: DC Comics)

Welcome to my comic book reviews for this week (April 28, 2021). I will be covering Harley Quinn issue 2, Happy Hour issue 2, The Department of Truth issue 8, and more!

From DC Comics, let’s open with Harley Quinn issue 2 by writer Stephanie Phillips. I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying Harley’s characterization in the latest solo series. Phillips is making Harley demonstrate a sense of maturity. Harley is still weird, but she feels more focused when it comes to her goal to help those influenced by the Joker. Also, having Dr. Hugo Strange (another psychologist) be the villain in the current arc is a stroke of genius. I can’t wait to see Harley and Hugo come face to face and psychoanalyze each other to filth.

I also continue to like Riley Rossmo’s art and Ivan Plascencia’s colors in this book. I get that the duo isn’t for everyone, but I’m here for it. I’m not sure of their creative intentions, but I’m justifying the unique art style as a look into how Harley sees the world; where everything is in motion, high-energy, colorful, and weirdly chaotic.

harley quinn issue 2 review
Harley Quinn Issue 2 (Image: DC Comics)

Maybe that’s why Hugo Strange is being drawn as a towering giant and how Harley’s ponytails move a lot to complement what she’s thinking or feeling at a particular moment? I don’t know. But the art style sure is different.  

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Spider-Man The Curse of the Man-Thing Issue 1 review
The Amazing Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

The Amazing Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing Issue 1

By writer Steve Orlando, The Amazing Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing issue 1 continues Orlando’s story about the Harrower using the Man-Thing’s biological (and magical) makeup to wreak havoc. As stated in the title, the latest chapter focuses a lot on Peter and has him going around using Talk no Jutsu. While I’m not the biggest Spider-Man fan out there, I still found myself invested enough to see what happens next. Due to the fast-paced nature of the story and a lot of action panels, I think Spider-Man fans will definitely enjoy reading this book. Miles Morales and other web crawlers also appear. 

Take note; the X-Men are coming up in the next issue and I’m looking forward to seeing Orlando write Storm.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

The Department of Truth issue 8 review
The Department of Truth Issue 8 (Image: Image Comics)

The Department of Truth Issue 8

Writer James Tynion IV gave me a lot to think about in The Department of Truth issue 8. Cole Turner continues to become more interesting. I still have a lot of questions about why DOT chose him and what role he’s supposed to play down the line. Cole’s confused, too. So, at least, the readers and Cole have that in common.

The latest issue introduces a new character named Hawk Harrison. He’s the one who trained Ruby and is now focusing on teaching Cole a thing or two about how conspiracy theories have the power to alter reality. While Ruby handles the more surface-level stuff including stopping dangerous conspiracies from growing and even killing people who might harm reality (and making their deaths appear natural), Hawk’s the guy you call to fix altered reality (from what I could understand).

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP.

Helm Greycastle issue 1 review
Helm Greycastle Issue 1 (Image: Image Comics)

Helm Greycastle Issue 1

From writer Henry Barajas, with Rahmat M. Handoko on pencils and Bryan Valenza on colors, Helm Greycastle issue 1 begins in a very traditional D&D fashion in a world with warriors, dwarves, orcs, and more. We are quickly introduced to the main team and what they can contribute as our leads face off against undead skeletons. However, things take an interesting (and somewhat confusing?) turn when an Aztec gods join the narrative. It’s a good thing I watched the Onyx Equinox animated series on Crunchyroll and had an idea about the Aztec gods that appeared in this book’s panels.

Even if you might feel undecided about the story, the art is definitely a highlight. As far as I’m concerned, I’m interested in seeing what happens with the main characters as they try to save the dragon-like child.

Helm Greycastle issue 1 review
Helm Greycastle Issue 1 – Sacred Armor game (Image: Image Comics)

This comic also includes resources for D&D players to run a game tied to the comic. So, that’s likely something quite valuable because I have heard stories about how tough it can be to come up with new enjoyable adventures featuring deep lore.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Up to you. 

Happy Hour issue 6 review
Happy Hour Issue 6 (Image: Ahoy Comics)

Happy Hour Issue 6

I was provided with a free digital copy of Happy Hour issue 6 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own

We have reached the conclusion of the Happy Hour series by writer Peter Milligan. I’m not sure how to talk about it while keeping away spoilers. Happy Hour issue 6 does leave room for this series to return. I would like it to. I enjoyed reading Milligan’s take on human emotions and how being way too happy or way too miserable isn’t the answer. You need to strike a balance. But that’s easier said than done because humans feel many more emotions than just happiness or sadness. Everyone is such a mess!

I’m not sure if it’s my academic background in psychology that made me gravitate toward Happy Hour and the current Harley Quinn solo series, but I do hope more people consider picking up both titles because I feel they offer something different, enjoyable, and engaging in the current comic book landscape.  

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

stealth hammer kickstarter
Stealth Hammer (Image: PR)

Stealth Hammer Issue 1

I was provided with a free digital copy of Stealth Hammer issue 1 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

I talked about the Stealth Hammer Kickstarter back in August of 2020. The campaign was a success for writer Ryan Drost. The first issue opens with lead character Jami Taylor telling her story about getting superpowers and immediately experiencing her first evil scientist fight. I do think this all-ages indie comic has what it takes to appeal to many especially because of the genres it encompasses. While there are giant robots and gadgets around, the narrative also includes the supernatural mythology. So, there’s something for different types of readers. I personally like such mashups.

There are two stories in the first issue. ‘This Is How the Story Begins’ showcases Jami getting her powers after an “accident” in her father’s lab. While I liked seeing her father being supportive, it’s clear he’s keeping information from his daughter. The well-detailed art style by artist Joel Jackson and colorist Ross Huges does skew quite young. 

stealth hammer issue 1 review
Stealth Hammer Issue 1

The second story, ‘Adversity is Necessary’, jumps ahead a bit in time, showing Jami trekking through a fantastical land, complete with a gnome as her guide, in search of answers. During her expedition she gets to meet the villainous Marzanna (I like her character design) and learns just how unprepared she is to stand against such a foe.

Personally, I want to see more Stealth Hammer stories told in this art style by Alexandra Scott.

stealth hammer issue 1 review
Stealth Hammer Issue 1

Drost is currently finding a publisher to pick up Stealth Hammer as a mini or an ongoing. Carol & John’s Comic Shop (the biggest comic shop in the Cleveland area) is carrying the title.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

You can read Jessica’s review of Robin issue 1 here.

Which comic books did you read this week?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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