Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Harley Quinn 1, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Sometimes, what we need in life is a fresh start. That means cutting ties with what came before, moving on, and moving out. Sometimes, that also means traveling into some unknown territory and taking a leap of faith that things will work out. Harley Quinn has had a…troubled past to say the least, so if anyone in the DCU could use a fresh start it’s her. Harley Quinn 1 gives us the beginning of Harley’s fresh start. Will she make it out alive?
We begin with Harley on the road with a cartoonishly large sack of her only remaining “treasures” on the back of her motorcycle. She’s on her way to her newly inherited apartment building in Coney Island. She learns that she now owns a very large building including retail space, apartments, and her own private suite. Unfortunately, the rent from her tenants will only pay off so much of the considerable monthly bills she is now facing. To remedy this, Harleen Quinzel gets a day job as a therapist while Harley Quinn gets a night job as a Roller Derby girl! Things are looking up for old Harl, until she realizes that someone has placed a hit out on her.
Well, that’ll put a damper on anyone’s evening. Fortunately, this comic will not. In case you missed it, issue 0 of Harley Quinn was delightfully nutty. Aside from setting up Harley’s inheritance, that issue was meant to be more a celebration of the character than a coherent story. What’s wonderful about this issue, is that the creators, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, were able to transfer some of the joyful nuttiness from that issue into this one. At the same time, we are presented with a truly fresh start for the character, which is presented in a coherent and entertaining first chapter.
Issue 0 felt a bit like an animated variety show, and I absolutely loved it. Somehow, Palmiotti and Conner have been able to infuse the supposedly realistic landscape of the DCU with just a bit of the cartoonishness seen in the previous issue. Just take a look at the cartoonishly unrealistic scene below.
Moreover, they have infused Harley with a similar kind of impossible, cartoony presence, which is very much like Marvel’s Deadpool. In the first few pages, Harley comes across a negligent pet owner who is seen dragging his poor and inherently hilarious weiner dog down the street.
As a passionate dog-owner myself, this is exactly the type of thing that I want to do whenever I see a human mistreating his or her pet. Where I am unable to act out my desires, Harley is completely free to do so. Harley Quinn is Harleen Quinzel’s unleashed id, so this scene is a perfect representation of the character: all action, no consequences.
Of course, any good story needs conflict, and Harley can’t just be a cartoony, consequence-less character all of time, right? This is where Harley’s new apartment building comes in. She doesn’t just inherit a building here, she also inherits tenants, bills, and most importantly, a new responsibility. Harley immediately falls in love with her new place, and she is fully intent on keeping it.
I’ve already explained how she plans on keeping her new pad, but I’m curious to see how this very grounded responsibility will interact with her cartoonish, and sometimes dangerous, personality and lifestyle. I’m sure the hit that has been put out on her isn’t going to help matters any either, as it seems that something from her past is out to bite her right on her fresh, new start.
Chad Hardin is the series’ new interior artist. He has a wonderful ability to capture the cartoony aspects of this book that I’ve been mentioning above. At the same time, he does a good job at capturing the quieter moments as well. Unfortunately, I found some of his art to be just a tad gratuitous, not much of it mind you, but it’s there. Additionally, some of his illustrations tended to look a bit odd, and even a little scary too. This is especially true of the Roller Derby scenes.
That last criticism is minor, and it really is unfair to any artist to present us with a cover drawn by Amanda Conner unless the interior art will be by her as well. What do you think of Hardin’s interiors Shelby, they do anything for you? There’s more going on in this issue as well, as we’ve been introduced to what I assume will be Harley’s supporting cast. Any thoughts on them?
Shelby: I actually really like Hardin’s work here. The blend of goofiness, unadulterated violence, and cheesecake pin-up is so appropriate for Harley.
This spread is a perfect example. There’s the hilarious detail of Harley digging through a magic bag of holding for her comically over-sized mallet, the pin-up shot of her without her jacket, and then the gruesome fight scene where she knocked a man’s head off, spraying blood every which way. For any other character, this would be way over the top and kind of dumb, but Harley is the epitome of scary, sexy, and silly, so I think it works.
Crazy, too: let’s not forget that Harley is crazy. That’s why I love Palmiotti and Conner’s idea to make her go back to her therapy roots to make some dough. Can you imagine the havoc Harley can mete out while working with dangerous and unstable individuals? It’s going to be awful and awesome. They’ve crafted a perfect environment for Harley to just be Harley; I mean, she was practically meant to be a derby girl, I can’t believe she hasn’t been one before now. And did you see the businesses in her building? A burlesque, a freakshow, a creepshow, and a house of wax and MURDER, whatever that is. I’m secretly a little bit in love with it. Ok, a lot bit in love. The 0 issue was mayhem, and I hoped then that the creative team would be able to carry some of that mayhem into issue 1, and Conner, Palmiotti, and Hardin did not disappoint. So, anyone else want to move into Harley’s building? I think it would be worth a trip to Coney Island to get all the sexy, weird, craziness I need in just one place.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?