Review: Harley Quinn #1
Submitted by: Kelly Aliano, PhD, Comics News Editor
3 August 2016
**Issue Spoilers to Follow**
Harley Quinn #1 by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti starts off with Harley and gal-pal Poison Ivy discussing life while treating themselves to a spa day. The scene is wonderfully peppered with homoerotic undertones between the two women, one of my favorite components of their character relationship. Too often, superhero comics focus on the relationships between strong men or between those strong men and the women who need them. But Harley Quinn remains a title that maintains that a female character can be a bigger badass than any man might ever be.
The issue, entitled “Afterbirth,” uses the conceit of Harley performing for an audience to allow her to retell her origin story. She then reintroduces us to all of the new characters we met as part of the most recent ongoing series and the “Gang of Harleys” books. We then see her reject a male villain suitor—the plot of her most recent story arc focused on his desire for her—reminding us that it is Harley, not the men she encounters, who calls the shots in her world. She then battles a series of zombies, created through the poisoning of her favorite Coney Island treat, hot dogs. Insanity—of the best sort—ensues, and the comic sets up another great series of hilarious, and sometimes hyper-violent, Harley Quinn adventures from one of the best comic book teams around.
This story definitely plays on the many complex tropes of women in comic books, “sexy,” “innocent,” “victim,” “ditz,” just to name a few, reminding us that one of the best things about this character is that, no matter how crazy she may seem, she is still incredibly relatable and human at her core. It then builds on this history to throw us right back into the action and the fun that is a mainstay of Harley’s standalone titles. The Verdict: Harley Quinn remains one of the highlights of DC’s publication roster, being both funny and exciting while providing a welcome break from the superhero comic status quo.