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Review: Harley Quinn #1

A new supporting cast, new digs, new jobs and a whole new set of deadly problems? Big changes are in the works for Dr. Harley Quinzel as Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Chad Hardin jump into the official #1 issue of her new series. After a superb #0 issue full of meta-whimsy, can the second issue keep the momentum going?


Harley’s back, and so is the fourth wall. While we don’t get any of the great reader-aimed banter from last month’s issue, Harley does have a sounding board: a pet gopher/beaver that apparently only she can hear. We open with Harley on a Harley, her buddy strapped to the front and her worldly possessions piled onto the back. Harley watches a hipster drag a dachshund across an intersection, and the pup makes eye contact with her.


With just a look, they connect; they cry; a nuclear explosion happens behind Harley’s eyes.


Harley scoops up the pup, and proceeds to drag the hipster by the neck behind her bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. Watching from nearby is an ominous fella who informs us that there’s a bounty on Harley’s head. He’s about to get the drop on her, but the pup barks to alert Harley, and she takes the thug out.


Next, Harley arrives at her new abode: a four story building with a Freakshow/Creepshow on the bottom floor, and apartments above. It’s situated on a busy corner in the shadow of the famous Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster and Ferris wheel. Harley quickly meets the menagerie of circus side-show people who inhabit the building, including Glenn Danzig a stocky dwarf named Big Tony (see what they did there!?). It’s explained to Harley that she has the entire top floor, including the roof to herself, and the tenants pay nearly half of the building’s costs. She’ll need to earn the rest by working…


First job she interviews for is much like her old one: a respectable day job counseling patients at an assisted living home (which just happens to have a guarded security wing). Next up is a job much more up her alley: roller derby. Needless to say, she’s a natural.


Later that evening Harley is relaxing on her new rooftop, when Big Tony takes out an assassin who was about to run through her with a sword. On her body they find a Wanted poster with a $2,000,000 bounty for anyone who can bring in Harley, dead or alive.


Again, absolutely awesome. I loved the #0 issue last month, and Conner & Palmiotti kept it up through this issue. They’ve absolutely nailed the complex mix that made the Dini/Timm Harley so beloved, but they make it new and fresh. She’s a clown and intelligent. She’s vulnerable and vicious. She doesn’t tend to initiate destruction, but she will light the fuse at the drop of a hat. Getting that mix would be enough to keep me reading.


But it doesn’t stop there: Honestly, I can’t think of a better place to drop Harley into than Coney Island. You have the eroded, stained theme park back drop, old-school sideshow motif and a kind of gritty pride that the residents take in every square block of the place. It harkens back to a lost era where people made an honest living, but today it’s almost like a beloved home for the damaged and forgotten.


Chad Hardin’s inks and Alex Sinclair’s colors make an awesome mix. Hardin has a great knack for drawing Harley in way that’s very sexy, but simultaneously very powerful and emotive. Sinclair’s colors do an awesome job of playing with the interaction of her bleached skin and make-up.


Harley Quinn #1:


4.5 out of 5 Batarangs


Reviwed by Benjamin Scott

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