Story & Art: Stjepan Sejic
Letters: Gabriela Downie
In 1992 the comic reading world was taken by storm. Batman: the Animated Series was a popular afternoon cartoon that was must watch viewing for nearly every comic book fan. It was a dark and gritty interpretation of the Dark Knight and very much fit the mold of how Batman was being written at the time. Yet what took the comic reading by storm wasn’t the cartoon itself, rather it was an obscure character in the episode the Jokers Favor. An obscure character that was supposed to be a one and done but instead became a fan favorite. A character who has now had multiple series to her name by a litany of A list creators. A character who finally this past week so the release of her definitive origin story. I’m of course speaking of the incredible Harley Quinn.
Since bursting on the scene Harley Quinn has grown to become one of DC’s most popular properties. With Harleen #1 DC has entrusted master storyteller Stjepan Sejic to update and modernize the tragic tale of Dr. Harleen Quinzel as she falls under the spell of the Joker and descends into madness. Brilliantly told from Harleen’s point of view Harleen #1 takes us into the roots of Dr. Quinzel’s research, her obsession with Gotham’s criminal underworld, and where her fascination with the Joker first manifests. We also find out where the nickname Harley emerged, it’s not as nice as you would think, and maybe there was just a bit of madness within Harleen before she was seduced by the Joker. It’s an incredibly entertaining tale that fills in the gaps of Harleen’s pre-Harley days and how she fits into the larger picture that is Gotham. How her research was bankrolled by Bruce Wayne himself in a hope of eradicating crime as Gotham knows it if she is successful to how DA Harvey Dent wants her to stop her research since it will give every defense attorney in the city a new avenue to defense and appeal for the growing number of Gotham’s criminally insane. It’s a great look at Batman’s past and a wonderful story that fits Harley’s past into the grand design of the Batman universe.
Harleen #1 was like reading a Greek tragedy to me. We all know how it’s going to end but there is nothing we can do to stop it. Choosing Stjepan Sejic was an excellent choice to handle the story and art for this tale. His artwork is amazing and truly a style all his own. He also has an incredible grasp on Harleen, her insecurities and her desire to do good all while self-sabotaging herself. I’m pretty comfortable with knowing who Harley is but I must say it was nice to see who Dr. Harleen Quinzel was. Sejic also draws a gorgeous Gotham and has a way of making the city look dank and dark at night while it is bright and beautiful during the day. Gotham is often depicted as being dark and dirty all of the time, yet with this look at the past it seems like it might not have been this way all of the time and that maybe it won’t be this way in the future. Batman makes his obligatory appearance but this truly is a Harleen and Joker story and even though I know how it ends I can’t wait to find out how we get there.
Verdict: Harleen #1 is a gorgeous telling of the origin of Harley Quinn. With its oversized Black Label brand the art is large and the story is engaging and entertaining making this book a Buy!