By Hunter T. Patrick
After binge reading the Harley Loves Joker backup stories in Harley Quinn’s solo title did I feel sufficiently prepared for this. I figured those were optional, but they most definitely were not optional to understand as this issue takes very little time catching people up after roughly a year since these backups were released. No holding back (except for the quick recap as stated) makes this issue all the stronger for it. Things ended with a cliffhanger, and this feels identical to the backups, just in a full-length format now. Seeing this as a two-issue miniseries as marketed is wrong, this issue is a full epilogue/continuation to the story previously as it should be.
Do you remember that lame villain from the backups? Do not worry; we get a several page flashback sequences explaining the origin for The Grison. By far out of this entire story including the back-ups, this was the weakest scene(s). It did not feel unnecessary; it did add (minor spoiler) more insight to Harley before she fully turned into Harley. The flashback still had some interesting Harley moments, which is nice. This character has interesting twists and proves this background nuisance is suited to be vital for the overall story. The artwork feels very similar to a cartoon adaption. This could be a straight cartoon adaption. This would clearly be a Harley Quinn cartoon, not Batman just going off the colors. They are nice, bright, and colorful. As one can tell by the writer, this is full on classic Harley with the costume and all. The Joker here does not resemble, say, New 52 Joker in the slightest. The cartoony feel has a somewhat all ages quality to it. It is playful, bright, and even a bit of potty humor, all pure Harley pre-very short clothed sexy clothing. This is not all ages; it has the T+ right on the cover. People who will be buying it are going to be Harley-enthusiasts, which seems to keep growing,
The writing is fun and playful. It is full on Paul Dini Harley. Do not get this expecting a Tom King’s Mister Miracle quality story, as Paul Dini’s Harley Quinn never deserved to be on the same level, but a completely different quality. The world of comics needs both to succeed and is nice to see Dini returning. There’s a hardback coming with both issues plus all the back-ups, so maybe get that instead of just this issue. Also, if you are not caught up skipping this two-parter is perfectly fine. It is all flashback, and I do not see this carrying over into the current DCU (except if the Grison returns). If the Grison somehow turns out to be Harley’s worst enemy then yeah, this four-dollar comic might be worth it then. Her relationship with Harley is interesting enough, but not the character, at least yet. If you only have four dollars to spend on a comic this week, get Batman and four copies of DC Nation #0. Except if you only buy Harley comics (not even Joker comics) then get this. It’s not bad, but it is not great.
Harley Loves Joker #1