My short review: I like it.
Of course I’m not going to let you off that easily. I’ve got far more to say about it than that. It’s a pulpy, splashy romp with classic Bat-villains let loose on their own and teaming up to cause trouble. It owes more to Tarantino’s grind-house classic Kill Bill, with women in stylized costumes performing acrobatic fighting feats never seen in nature, than to common superhero mythos, though of course there’s that, too.
I picked it up because I can’t resist the bad girls. They’re easy to do wrong, sure, but I think there’s so much more possibility for a really interesting female character, at least in superhero-dom, in a transgressive villain. I love Catwoman because she’s always walked that line–she’s part noir femme fatale and part straight-up supervillain, with just enough heroine in her to keep your sympathy.
Here she isn’t quite up to her old tricks, and a run-in with a frat-boy wannabe bad guy takes more out of her than she’d like to admit. Poison Ivy saves her and brings her to the house she’s sharing with Harley Quinn and another familiar face, who hasn’t had much say in the matter. The all-bad-girl team-up is fraught with tension and mistrust from the beginning, of course, and the biggest problem is the one question that Harley and Ivy assume the Catwoman must know the answer to: Who is Batman?
I’m sure there have been complaints about the art–that the girls are oversexualized, that Harley’s wearing a schoolgirl uniform–and maybe it just says something about my comic-reading tastes, but I didn’t find them offensive. Guillem March’s art is hyperstylized and kinetic, with characters male and female twisting and bending into shapes not usually seen in nature, and the characters strike me as less sexualized than simply, well, comic-booky.
The three leads are very different women, and by virtue of their constant second billing have always been a bit of a stereotype, but giving them their own series allows for them to be fleshed out a bit more. I’m hoping for more especially from Harley, who has less to do in this first issue as far as character development goes, though she does get to kick some butt. Paul Dini is definitely capable of doing dark, as is hinted in the treatment of poor Eddie Nigma by Ivy and by the brief mention of the Mad Hatter, and I rather hope he goes for it in this series–I’d love to see a series where these three characters can really let loose all the screwed-up bits of their psyches and yet retain our interest and sympathy.