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Review: Harley Quinn #1

HarleyQuinn1CoverHarley Quinn #1 starts immediately after the final issue of the last volume with Harley and Ivy going on a much needed tropical getaway. But it’s not all flirting and lounging as writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti  throw readers right back into Harley’s wacky world of circus freaks, copyright friendly Deadpool parodies, and even zombies. A big chunk of the issue is dedicated to retelling Harley’s backstory and reintroducing her huge supporting cast, but this exposition isn’t super boring thanks to silly, sexy, and occasionally dark stylings of artist Chad Hardin and colorist Alex Sinclair. 

Zombie apocalypse stories are beyond cliched at this point, but Conner and Palmiotti add some new wrinkles to the formula by making the source of the zombie outbreak utterly ridiculous as well as cleverly homaging the first appearance of the Skrulls in Fantastic Four #2. (Is changing an alien into a cow the best idea a genius like Reed Richards could have come up with? Or maybe Stan Lee was on deadline.) Also, instead of making the zombies an excuse for mindless violence, they make Harley hesitate when fighting them because most of them are her friends, neighbors, and the substitute mail man that she has come to know and love in her new life in Brooklyn. Harley does get one particularly nice lick in when she does an emergency surgery on Red Tool’s infected limb. Tool is the butt of most of the jokes in Harley Quinn #1 as Conner and Palmiotti let  Because that relationship wouldn’t be healthy for either of them.

Speaking of relationships, Conner, Palmiotti, and Hardin dedicate the first part of Harley Quinn #1 to both the romance and friendship between Harley and Ivy. Both women have very different life goals: Poison Ivy wants to HARLEY-1-3-0de45save the environment, and Harley Quinn has various and sundry of them, but mostly balancing work, fun, and helping the ordinary people of Brooklyn in her own way. However, despite their differences, these scenes show how much Harley and Ivy care for each other as they are inseparable everywhere from the hot tub to nail salon. And their getaway ends in a heartfelt hug as Harley really wants Ivy to move in with her, but that doesn’t fit into the scientist’s current plans. Conner, Palmiotti, and Hardin really capture the pleasure and pain of long distance relationships before diving right into some more Harley shenanigans with a rock star pose splash page.

The best part of Chad Hardin’s artwork is that he captures all the sides of Harley Quinn’s personalities from the confident leader of a rag tag band of harlequin themed vigilantes, circus people, and roller derby to a woman, who had to come to terms with an abusive relationship. The Joker flashbacks are handled tastefully with Sinclair using heavy greens to show his influence on Harley before slowly turning back to the black and reds and pair nicely with  Conner and Palmiotti’s frank narration about their time together. But Harley Quinn is mostly a comedic book, and Hardin is game for this tone as he uses traditional storytelling techniques in the most absurd situations, like using a nine panel grid to show the people of Brooklyn eating infected hot dogs. There is also an insanely hilarious background gag featuring the cast members of another DC book that he develops for several panels and earned my biggest laugh of the issue.

If you like your plotting style picaresque and your humor grotesque, Harley Quinn #1 is still the comic for you as Harley paints Brooklyn red and black with friendship, a little bit of carnage (Towards the undead types and Red Tool.) , and way too many pets. Also, its cliffhanger is the setup for a joke and builds suspense for the next issue because everyone loves a comic book that has both drama and comedy.

Story: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Art: Chad Hardin Colors: Alex Sinclair
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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