Reintroducing Harley in “Harley Quinn” #1 (Review)

Aug 7, 2016

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Harley cover1Harley Quinn: DC Universe Rebirth #1
DC Comics

Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair

In Harley Quinn issue 1, DC takes the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to heart. Keeping the full creative team from Harley Quinn volume 2 issue 30, this rebirth issue reads like a direct continuation from the last time we saw Harley. DC Rebirth, a relaunch of DC’s ongoing monthly comics, meshes over seventy years’ worth of original content with storylines from the New 52—2011’s revamp effort. With Harley being a breakout star of the New 52 and having a growing fan following from Suicide Squad, it’s no surprise this rebirth has already sold over 400,000 copies. (And what perfect timing with the Suicide Squad movie just releasing on August 5.) In Harley’s rebirth, she teams up with Red Tool—a clear parody of Marvel’s Deadpool—to fight off zombies. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti keep the story fun and playful throughout even with a horde of zombies to battle.

The issue is basically split into three parts—first starting off with Harley and Poison Ivy on their spa day—a promise Harley made in issue 30. I’m glad to see Conner and Palmiotti establishing their close friendship immediately in this rebirth. Then, Harley launches into a recap of her origin story, which slows down the issue some, especially for readers who are familiar with her. However, we’re introduced to some new buddies and a new take on her independent journey since departing from the Joker. Finally, we get to the real action: Harley and co. fighting a zombie-esque plague.

spa day

I enjoyed Conner and Palmiotti’s different take on the zombies’ origin, especially because in most epidemic stories, we don’t usually see how the plagues start. Taking a few pages to relay this to readers was a definite highlight. Chad Hardin’s art and Alex Sinclair’s coloring are spot on, even down to Red Tool’s creative speech bubbles shaped like different tools, which we’ve seen since issue 26. With their black eyes and rabid-looking expressions, the zombies are scary and fit right into to the classic zombie lore. Having Harley take the lead and hold her own throughout the comic while fighting along two men is another positive for the issue. She shows her sensitive side when seeing her fellow neighbors—like the stand-in mailman—but that doesn’t mean she’s weak. Far from it. Conner and Palmiotti expertly establish her personality from the start. Harley shows readers that you can be flirty and girly and be a total badass.

Harley zombies

The cover shows Harley in a modern take on her classic red-and-black attire. Her blonde hair is in pigtails tinged blue and pink—just like in previous issues and how she appears in Suicide Squad. We see some familiar faces in the background—like Joker, Batman, and Poison Ivy. Holding a gun in one hand and her hammer in another, she’s a force to be reckoned—especially with that sly, mischievous grin she’s touting. Interestingly, DC released seventy-four awesome variant covers. (See the DC Comics website for a chance to win them all.)

Aside from a brief halt in the story when Harley launches into her backstory, this rebirth comic is pretty solid. Having the full creative team from previous issues definitely helps keep Harley’s character authentic. The dynamic between Red Tool and Harley is great, and the zombie storyline is fun. Overall, DC has done a good job with this rebirth, and it doesn’t seem like Harley’s appeal is wearing off anytime soon.