FUTURE STATE: HARLEY QUINN #1 (REVIEW)

Jan 5, 2021

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FUTURE STATE: HARLEY QUINN #1
DC COMICS

Written by: Stephanie Phillips
Art by: Simone DiMeo
Colors by: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: ALW’s
Troy Peteri

Harley Quinn’s intelligence and psychiatric knowledge are often overshadowed by the glorified violence and chaotic mayhem of her character. Future State: Harley Quinn restricts Harley’s actions and as a results constructs a compelling and intellectually rewarding characterization. Writer Stephanie Phillips’ provides readers a new twist on Harley by highlighting a side of her that was always present, yet rarely utilized.

Harley is quickly captured restricting her actions in this newer even darker Future State Gotham. This limitation creates character exploration and creative opportunities for Phillips. Harley uses her psychiatry training to assist former villain, now police state enforcer, Jonathan Crane in capturing other villains in Gotham. Her intellect provides Gotham the opportunity to capture villains that consistently plagued Batman and the city. Batman may be the “world’s greatest detective” but he is often a blunt instrument addressing crime. Phillips’ depiction of Harley is a medical scalpel diagnosing and surgically removing villains. This approach feels fresh and rewarding for readers of Batman titles and calls into question Batman’s approach to crime fighting.

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Stephanie Phillip’s Harley Quinn is knowledgeable and smart, while retaining her humor. This characterization creates new dynamics for her and Dr. Crane setting up an interesting take on this Gotham. Harley Quinn and Paul Jenkins’ side story Future State: Arkham Knights demonstrate the depth and potential of exploring Batman’s villains as something more than foils to Bruce Wayne’s personal drive. There are universes where these characters take on a life and a meaning that addresses the psychological roots of their characters.

Artist Simone DiMeo retains some of the cartoony lightness of Harley’s traditional character while capturing the facial and eye expressions that highlight her intelligence. Tamra Bonvillain’s colors keep the dark shadows of the Future State line, but inject a bright neon life that is missing from the gloomy world of Future State.

Stephanie Phillips has created strong, unique female characters for Aftershock, Top Cow, and Heavy Metal comic publishers. She now has the reigns with Harley Quinn. Future State: Harley Quinn is a strong opening for Phillips as she takes on Harley’s new ongoing series in March of 2021. Fans of Batman’s universe will appreciate the sophisticated spin on breaking down traditional villains. Readers of good characterization will value the intelligence Phillips brings, without losing the chaotic fun in Harley’s character. And Harley fans have a lot to look forward to with Phillips at the helm.

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SCORE: 9.0

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