It’s time for Harley Quinn to move in to her new Coney Island digs, and the road is fraught with peril.
Hauling all of her non-perished goods on the back of her, uh, Harley, Quinn argues with her stuffed beaver, picks up a new four-legged friend from its abusive owner, and fights off a would-be assassin with her giant mallet.
It’s all just another day for Harley, but things get thrown for a loop when her ownership of the building is finalized. Now responsible for collecting rent, paying taxes, getting insurance, and performing maintenance to code, Harley realizes she needs to step it up in the employment aspects of her life.
That means finding a day job with something on the side. Quinn preps for an interview at an assisted living home by covering her skin with some flesh-tinted makeup. After that, it’s a day at the derby — Quinn shows off her melee skills by beating, literally, her competition at the roller derby.
Things are looking up for Harley Quinn until another assassination attempt reveals there’s a hit put out on our plucky villainess for $2-million.
Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have a lot of things going on for Quinn with plenty of gags and physical humor. Things get pretty wacky, almost surreal even, and it isn’t clear how a convicted felon like Quinn can move across state lines at will — or whether that’s even relevant in a title where the main character whips a pedestrian and drags him by his neck through a busy New York highway.
At times, the writing gets close to being a little ridiculous, but there are plenty of things to keep the issue grounded. Big Tony who appears in a mesh top when he’s first introduced might not seem like much of a charmer, but he proves to be the emotional anchor that keeps the issue from losing its head in the clouds.
While the writers work to gain our trust, no one needs to worry about the art department which has produced some great looking art. Led by Chad Hardin, the panels bring the action and antics to the forefront with a lot of character. Hardin’s Harley has a range that goes from playful to contemplative, and she runs the entire gamut thanks to Hardin’s expert abilities. There are a few panels when Quinn’s face gets a little contorted, but overall, the effort is remarkable with some poster-worthy panels.
Complementing Hardin’s visuals, Alex Sinclair’s colors are bold and beautiful. The reds are robust, and Quinn’s pale skin gets some tone through shades. Colors get a bit too much saturation during the roller derby sequence, but we’re comparing one colorist’s work against himself.
Harley Quinn #1 is a solid first issue — issue #0 being more of an introduction piece — and there’s plenty of potential here. To get to greatness, Conner and Palmiotti need to bring it in the humor department by kicking it up a notch. Sometimes, it seems like the dialogue borders on the cliche, but then the writing team ups the ante, so we know there’s more to expect.
And with a talented visual team to go along with that one-two punch writing team, Harley Quinn looks like she’s just beginning her reign as the queen of comics.
Harley Quinn #1 (2013)
Words: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Chad Hardin
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: John J. Hill