Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cool Comic o' the Week: Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego

At first, I'd been put off by the Riot Grrrrl makeover to Harley Quinn in DC Comics' New 52 universe.  However, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have run like hell with the hedonistic bombshell, Ms. Quinzel, ushering her into a new dawn of coolness ordained by slapstick and gallows' humor to go with her uncontrollable urges to maim and kill. 

I've been waiting for the new Harley Quinn series to live up to the revved-up, Byrne-esque hilarity of Issue # 0.  The series has thus far been amusing and at-times it's pushed the envelope, but not quite over-the-edge as the zero book.  Nonetheless, I'm still not over seeing Harley bulldoze into a house where the madam of the family is hosting a sex toy party and we see cock rings flying all about the panels.  Then the decision to hint at Poison Ivy harboring lesbianism has been a riot too, considering all the innuendo unintentionally slung between she and Harley has left the former sexually badgered and the latter clueless. 

Welp, DC finally matches the promise of its zero issue with a damned funny one-shot roast, Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego.  As the high profile convention is the hottest topic in comics this week following the 75th anniversary of Batman this past Wednesday, Conner and Palmiotti are given liberty to loosen Harley's reins a bit once again and this books kills--in a different connotation, of course.

 Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego is similar to Issue # 0 in the fact it's drawn by a cavalcade of artists including Paul Pope, Javier Garron, Damion Scott, Robert Campanella, John Timms, Stephanie Roux, Marco Failla and others.  Better, it embraces the gonzo spirit of the launch issue and it plays a twisted, campy card (a Joker, natch) with the same levels of farce and subliminal perversions.  The scene where Harley stumbles into a room of Joker cosplays is raunchy only by suggestion, but it's one of the most outrageous moments this series has yet churned out.

As the title would imply, our vampish girl clown takes in the San Diego con and raises a ruckus everywhere she turns.  Harley happens to have a little knack for art in her repertoire, thus she brings her portfolio (centering upon a bile-spewing heroine, Hurl Girl) to the convention in the hopes of getting noticed by the publishers.  Of course, this is Harley Quinn we're talking about, so it's no surprise she keeps getting thrown out of the con for gross offenses such as photo bombing interviewees and yanking the bottom down of a Batman impersonator whom she believes to be the real Bat-McCoy.  Even more hilarious is the fact the Bat-cosplay is wearing Harley boxers, leaving her to entertain the goofy thought Batman himself has a secret crush on her.

You'll have to read this book to appreciate the looniness of it.  Every other minute, Harley's geeking out over celebrities as Conner and Palmiotti mash up her rambling dialogue in those sequences, spoofing celeb stalkers with haunting accurateness.  Harley gets herself into many other fixes including a gut-busting confrontation with a purposefully nasty waitress at a special hate-themed café, Rude Rick's (someone notify the long-ago wrassler Rick Rude, eh?) to a destructive spree ride in the Adam West Batmobile.  Her night out in the company of a gaggle of Harley Quinn impersonators (one who is male) is a freaking scream, especially when the real Harley pings a cop in the ass with his pistol.  The police lineup of fake Harleys thereafter had me laughing so hard the book dropped out of my hands.

More of this, please, DC...

             Listenin' to:  Megadeth - So Far, So Good...So What!

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