As you can imagine when you employ a writer such as Mark Russell to produce a one-shot tie-in with your comic book company’s title-wide crossover, he was never going to take it too seriously and that, thankfully, is what we get with this week’s Harley Quinn: Villain of the Year #1. After so many one-shots in this Villain of the Year event – depicting so many levelled-up DC villains pounding at their chests and puffing up their egos – this one-shot was always going to poke it’s tickling stick at such pomp and ceremony. Hey, this is Harley Quinn after all, and this is Mark Russell.
Opening up to a prestigious award ceremony like so many others, this set-up gives Russell the opportunity to poke fun at both these types of events as well as further satirising the whole superhero genre. Harley, for example, isn’t too happy that Deathstroke the Terminator is included in a list of villains who died this year. After all, hasn’t he already come back from the dead, marking how quickly these things can happen, and be resolved in this modern world of comics? I mean, just look at the X-Men titles since Dawn of X for this trope to be taken to it’s absolute extreme. Seems that no-one dies and stays dead anymore. Not even for a single issue in some cases these days.
Moving onto the actual awards themselves and they aren’t all ones you’d be happy to win, even as a bad guy. But, this isn’t just a good excuse to stitch together a few good gags. There’s a story here too, as we flash back in time to a month earlier and Lex Luthor’s visit to Harley Quinn, like some kind of ghost of Christmas Future, as Harley herself references when surprised by him. More hilarity abounds as we also focus on Flamingo, a rather dashing, and daringly dressed douchebag who’s sole motivation is that he’s never won an award before. Welcome to the club, Flamingo. But, you don’t see me trying to trying to ruin any award shows, now do you?
Add to this artwork by Mike Norton – himself no stranger to satire – and you have a well rounded all-out funny book that’s simply stuffed with jokes as well as the final result of the fans’ vote too. Although this gimmick really does come in as a runner up to the real winner; the comic book itself.
It may be too late to put this forward for ‘Best Single Issue of the Year’, but it’d certainly be up there for me.
Harley Quinn: Villain of the Year #1 is available now from DC Comics