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Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter One

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter One

DC Comics dropped a surprise DC Digital First series with Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red. The anthology series will be told in fourteen chapters from a rotating group of creators, a who’s who of top talent. As a top tier character who has seen numerous different iterations and interpretations, the move is a smart one and the debut chapter is intriguing that it should hook readers new and old to check out further releases from the series.

The first chapter “Harleen: Red” is by writer/artist Stjepan Šejić with lettering by Gabriela Downie. Set in the world of Šejić’s New York Times bestselling graphic novel Harleen, this story hints at a “red” that will have meaning only to Harley Quinn! Thankfully, you don’t need to have read Harleen to appreciate this digital comic, and instead, it can be picked up on its own and enjoyed.

Harley is in Arkham Asylum focused on the color red. The issue has her squaring off with another psychologist who’s attempting to break down Harley to find out what’s on her mind. She’s escaped a few times at this point and Arkham is considered a joke of an institution so there’s a focus to get this right.

The comic itself feels like a one-woman play in many ways. Šejić has Harley go off about the color red and its role throughout her life. What it reminds her of, the good, the bad, the traumatic. You can easily imagine this playing out on a stage with lines delivered to an audience. There’s a romantic wisp of it all. Harley waxes poetically about her time with the Joker and the abusive dance between the two. And there’s the eventual twist that fans of the character will see coming from a mile away. Though predictable, there’s still a romantic aspect to it all. A damsel being rescued from the castle tower in a way.

The art is amazing. The use of so few colors creates a dramatic flair and emphasizes the art in so many ways. The emotions come from Harley’s movements and facial expressions, with a dash of red highlighting a small detail. Downie’s lettering is key as it emphasizes words and phrases creating a more dynamic reading.

There’s a point that the exploration turns into abuse porn in many ways. We relive Harley’s traumatic experiences over and over at the hands of the Joker. It gets tiring and “been there, seen it”. But, this comic delivers an air of romanticism that’s not aimed at the Joker and when you get to latter moments there’s something touching about it all. Harley thinks about the horror but longs for what feels like her true love to save her. As a comic goes,the first chapter of Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red is a fantastic read and as an introduction to this series, it’s a hell of a start.

Story: Stjepan Šejić Art: Stjepan Šejić Letterer: Gabriela Downie
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXology

DC Delivers a Surprise Digital Release of Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red With First Chapter by Stjepan Šejić and Gabriela Downie

DC has announced the launch of its newest Digital First series, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red! Publishing each Friday and spanning 14 chapters, this digital series is an anthology of standalone stories told in the vein of the classic Batman: Black & White. The first chapter is available for purchase now on participating digital platforms, including readdc.comComixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and more.

Each chapter of Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red will be told in traditional black and white with the color red utilized in unique ways throughout each of the individual stories. The debut chapter of the Digital First series is “Harleen: Red” by writer/artist Stjepan Šejić with lettering by Gabriela Downie. Set in the world of Šejić’s New York Times bestselling graphic novel Harleen, this story hints at a “red” that will have meaning only to Harley Quinn!

Future chapters will feature a fan-favorite lineup of talent, including Harley Quinn co-creator Paul Dini; the team of Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin; Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez; Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra; Erica Henderson, Daniel Kibblesmith, and more to come throughout the run. And Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red is also the DC writing debut for several acclaimed illustrators! Artists Mirka Andolfo, Dani, Joe Quinones, and Riley Rossmo are all developing chapters written in their own voice, paired with art in their distinct styles.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red’s first chapter, with story and art by Stjepan Šejić and lettering by Gabriela Downie, is available now. Subsequent digital chapters of Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red will publish weekly on Fridays through its 14-chapter run. Andolfo’s story will publish July 3, Ahmed and Rodriguez’ collaboration will publish on July 10, and Seeley and Ferreyra’s chapter will publish on July 17 to round out the first month of the series.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red promo art is by Jorge Jiménez.