In a universe in which almost book is either tied into Forever Evil, “Forever Evil Blight”, or some smaller event, a book like Harley Quinn #1 is a welcome breath of fresh air. It is funny, action-packed, and new reader friendly. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti also do an excellent job looking at Harley’s split personalities and give her real life problems, like making money. Even though Harley partakes in some illegal activities, she is a very sympathetic protagonist and has (mostly) reasonable motivations for her actions. And Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair’s bouncy and colorful art is beautiful and a great match for Harley Quinn’s wild and crazy life. There are few cliches here and there, but Harley Quinn #1 is an overall entertaining, character driven comic.
From the first page, Conner and Palmiotti plunge readers right into the crazy of newly independent (and single) Harley Quinn. The opening scene with Harley rescuing a puppy from its negligent owner while dragging him behind her motorcycle captures the essence of her character. Harley has a good heart, but her insanity from her time in Arkham Asylum and relationship with the Joker has made her attempts at doing good slightly off. She does everything in extremes. Instead of having a cat or something, she has a hilarious, talking woodchuck as a pet. She doesn’t have an apartment, but a four story abandoned wax museum in Coney Island. Harley’s antics keep the book entertaining, but Conner and Palmiotti ground her with real life elements, like job interviews and finding money to pay the back taxes for the four story building. The real world situations also provide opportunities for the writers to explore the dichotomy between Harley Quinn and Dr. Harleen Quinzel, especially when Harley goes to two very different job interviews.
In Harley Quinn #0, Harley auditioned twenty artists for a comic of her life and chose Chad Hardin (Zatanna, Demon Knights). (Becky Cloonan’s female rocker Harley was my choice.) Hardin’s art is quite detailed, and he uses different POVs other than Harley’s to show people’s reaction to her crazy and violent actions. He uses quick successions of panels to depict Harley’s manic energy as she races down the highway in her motorcycle or bashes someone with her hammer. But Hardin can also pull back and do a two page spread setting up events to come. Alex Sinclair’s colors complement the energy of Hardin’s pencils, and he uses a wide variety of reds, blues, and other bright colors to create an atmosphere of crazy fun. But he mutes this bright palette to darker colors when Harley is discussing finances with the building’s former manager.
Harley Quinn #1 is a slice of life comic with a charismatic lead and art that bounces off the page. Conner and Palmiotti have a handle on Harley’s unique and wacky voice, and they begin to develop her supporting cast as well. One of Harley’s interviews is cliched and predictable, but the humor and action packed art make this only a tiny problem. Harley Quinn #1 has a little of bit everything: comedy, action, cute pets, and a well-developed female lead. It will genuinely put a smile on readers’ faces.