Group Review: Harley Quinn #1

DC timed it’s “Suicide Squad” books to their movie release so we have not one, but two group reviews for you in the same vein. Each reviewer will give their thoughts on the issue and their score. [su_quote]Comic Bastards Synopsis: Get ready for a lot of talking and everything you every needed to know about the title character! Oh, and a recycled Marvel storyline via Skrull Kill Krew.[/su_quote]


For a long time, I had trouble figuring out what made Harley Quinn such a fan favorite character. The positive reception always seemed to me as being in spite of the creators and writers behind her. I mean, this is a character that was written as sleeping her way through an education by her creators. A character whose publishers asked for people to draw her committing suicide in a bath tub. A character that was written to sleep with an entire convention floor of Joker cosplayers. Harley Quinn and writing has always seemed to be a very contemptuous relationship.

Now that I’ve read this issue, however, I realize that Harley Quinn has really just become DC’s version of Deadpool.

While that’s not bad in concept, the whole thing reads like an identity crisis. It starts with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy having a spa day—making you think the series might be a day-in-life super hero book—before switching to a lot of exposition then switching to a cut-away gag, and then switching to a full-on zombie apocalypse. The tone is all over the place and every page looks like a warzone between the word bubbles and art for domination of page space.

There are a few cute gags involving one of Harley’s side characters speaking in power tools instead of word balloons and an alien who shape shifts into a cow but the pace is overwhelming. The book asks us to read so much text and take in so much information but without ever giving much in way characterization or story and instead serving a stream of dropped jokes. Maybe issue #2 will have a good explanation for why it’s telling a goofy zombie story in 2016 but this one sure didn’t.


So, before I say what I’m about to say, I suppose it’s fair to note that I personally know little-to-nothing about Harley Quinn outside of Batman: The Animated Series. I don’t pretend to boast an expansive knowledge of her history as it relates to the comics, so maybe I am a tad misinformed when I say this but Harley Quinn #1 is the most terrible comic I have read all year. I didn’t have the first clue what was going on! The whole time I struggled not to pull away/fall asleep as I begrudgingly read one of the most messy, stupid, and just plain BAD scripts in recent memory (distant memory too for that matter). Its obvious innuendos and derogatory metaphors are missed attempts at comic relief; they aim for a laugh, but only end up making the reader feel more and more uncomfortable as the story drags on (and on). It was ludicrous, ridiculous; I actually don’t have enough adjectives right now to really voice my feelings. Harley Quinn is fantastical to the point of being absurd; I’m not saying that comics can’t be fun but this is something else entirely. I’ve been disappointed by Rebirth titles in the past but there hasn’t been one yet that I would flat-out say "DON’T READ" – that has now changed. Don’t read Harley Quinn.


I’m going to echo what Patrick said a little. I already know that Harley Quinn was just the DC Deadpool, I could tell that from the abundance of cosplay. What I didn’t realize was to what extent it went to. There’s Z-List characters created just for the series and cheap jokes. Sex jokes that feel as if a juvenile wrote them. Oh,and exposition, exposition… exposition. My god is there a lot of exposition.

The art is non-offensive which is probably the only thing I can say about it. There was never a chance for it to shine and basically everyone looked the same.

There’s more I could say, but overall I regret even giving this a chance. I knew it wasn’t for me and so it was foolish to even bother with it. The fact that this is doing well shows I guess how out of touch I am with superhero comics.

KALEB: 5/5

DC Rebirth first issues have been some of the most impressive pieces of comic writing as of late. Harley Quinn #1 is no exception to this. One word, Zombies!!! Yes, Harley Quinn takes on a hoard of zombies created from an alien who crashed landed on Earth and imitated a cow who was slaughtered. Anyone who ate the alien meat became a rage filled, brain-mauling, flesh-eating zombie. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti start there Harley Quinn story with a reunion between Poison Ivy and Harley. There’s no better place to have a girl’s day than the spa where they get pampered. During this time, we find out a bit about Harley, she owns a business along with two buildings, and she is basically trying to reinvent herself.

After the spa we get some pre-Harley Quinn backstory, rebel child, strong desire to study the insane at Arkham Asylum. She becomes a doctor of Psychology and ends up going under cover at Arkham to gain the trust of one particular inmate in order to learn more about him. Who is this inmate, you can probably guess but I’ll tell you anyways, The Joker. The Joker, cruel, smart and sadistic, knows Harley is a doctor right away. When the only person who knew Harley was undercover was killed, she was legitimately entered into the system as an inmate at Arkham with only one choice, to escape. Harley and the Joker managed to escape but at a cost, The Joker pushed Harley into a chemical bath permanently bleaching her skin. They eventually split up which sends Harley down a path to reinvent herself after being completely heartbroken. She has a party at Coney Island where most of her friends are made up in her mind, then all hell breaks loose. The horde of zombie’s attacks. There is quite an intense fight scene that takes place that puts Harley right in the middle of kicking zombie butt. After one of the characters are bit, Harley decides it’s a good idea to send him airmail to the closest hospital via a catapult.

There really isn’t much negative feedback to give this issue. The writing was flawless, there was a perfect amount of humor which is something I would expect from a Harley Quinn series. Sarcasm is perfectly displayed in the art and writing. This is a Harley that I will love reading about every time an issue comes out. The dialogue is mostly between at least two characters, not much internal dialogue. A great aspect of this issue is that you do not need any previous knowledge of who Harley Quinn is in order to understand her character. Every detail you would need to know is given to the reader in this issue. The dialogue flows smoothly from panel to panel, and sadly the issue just flies by. Besides the beginning of the issue I was 100% focused on the story and nothing else, this is just how gripping the story becomes and how action packed it is. Just when things get serious it takes a turn towards humor and gives a lighter feeling to the issue.

Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair tag team the art and colors. This is a very colorful issue. Seems like they were trying to hit every color in the visible light spectrum. Every panel is in your face, popping out of the page at you. If had to choose some of my favorite art from recent comics, I would definitely say this is the best art thus far. You could literally make the story yourself without the dialogue just based on the images given. If the art and dialogue continue to be like this issues, then this may become one of my favorite series.

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Writers: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital