New 52 – Harley Quinn #1 review

Harley Quinn #1 is going to make somebody’s day, but it just won’t be me. Look, I definitely think that writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are delivering a better portrayal of Harley Quinn than we’ve seen in any other New 52 book and Chad Hardin makes a great fit for the tone of this series, which is very cartoonish. However, it’s still not my cup of tea. It’s a book that’s really not bad at all, it’s just not the sort of thing I gravitate to. I personally only like Harley in moderation. I think she’s great as a supporting character or a leading character in a short story like what we’ve seen in recent issues of Batman: Black and White and Legends of the Dark Knight, but this is just too much Harley for me. It’s very similar to how I view Deadpool. Yeah, I chuckle when I see one specific page or individual panel show up on reddit or something, but reading an entire issue about The Merc with a Mouth is exhausting for me.

What I’m saying is that the Harley Quinn series does a fine job of capturing the character and appears to offer something that the New 52 catalog has lacked for some time– a lighthearted book that doesn’t take itself so seriously and just wants to have fun and make readers laugh. That’s great and this comic is going to be a favorite for many readers, but I can already tell that Harley is just going to get annoying for me if I keep reading this comic for too long. I need her shenanigans in small doses, even if this is a refreshing change from how she’s been portrayed in Suicide Squad.

In fact, if you hate the New 52 Suicide Squad, give this book a shot.

If you hated how she was shown in Snyder’s Death of the Family, give this book a shot.

The Harley Quinn series essentially dismisses all of the other New 52 material. Even her character design undergoes a much-appreciated tweak or two. (I was certainly happy to see that Chad Hardin did away with the tiny cape, Elizabethan ruff collar, and he even removed the permanent shade around Harley’s eyes so that now she wears more natural makeup) One of the most obvious steps away from the larger continuity is that Suicide Squad isn’t mentioned at all. Harley is apparently no longer a wanted criminal and can inherit a building, get a job using her real name, etc. etc. It’s all legal, all on the up-and-up! It’s as though her record has been completely expunged. Did something happen in Suicide Squad to explain this? I don’t know. I only read that comic when it’s released in TPB form.

And as for her New 52 relationship with the Joker? In Suicide Squad, Joker showed Harley that she was little more than the first success in a long line of failed experiments when he revealed a heap of dead bodies that didn’t survive the acid bath (God, I freakin’ hate the New 52 origin for this character). Then he poisoned her. After that, Harley decided to officially break up with “Mr. J.” But in the world of the Harley Quinn solo series she’s moving on from Joker not so much because of all the Death of the Family stuff, but because he planted a bomb in her storage locker, which we saw in issue #0 (speaking of which, that stuffed beaver is back and he’s still chatty). And while we’ve done away with Harley directly breaking the 4th in this issue there are still a number of winks to the audience that didn’t really feel right, but like I said, this comic just isn’t my thing. There’s a scene in which issues of Snyder’s Batman and Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics appear strewn about the ground. I was okay with those easter eggs in the last issue that basically took place outside of the world Harley actually inhabits but to have it show up  here struck me as…well, weird. I suppose my brain is still trying to connect this to the rest of the DC Universe in some way when it might just be in a universe all its own.

As I said, Harley inherits a building from a former patient at Arkham and she moves to Coney Island to check it out. Issue #1 follows her action-packed roadtrip, her move-in, and we see her settling down and finding a source of income in the form of 2 part-time jobs. It’s a superhero/villain comic that depicts the character’s everyday life whenever they aren’t in an epic adventure and I like that. It’s like DC wanted to answer Marvel’s Hawkeye and then decided to kill two birds with one stone by adding a more energetic Deadpool vibe as well.

NOTE: If anybody reading this review works on the Harley Quinn comic, please try and fix a typo in this chapter before it goes to trade. There’s a page in which Harley says “I dunno know who you are.. I dunno know why you’re trying to kill me…”

The comic is funny, unpredictable, and Hardin does a fantastic job of creating dynamic action sequences, expressive characters, and detailed environments teeming with life. Coney Island is thriving in this book! If you’re obsessed with Harley Quinn or just like books such as Deadpool, you’re gonna go crazy for what Conner and Palmiotti have done here, but it’s just too much Harley for me to handle and I’ll be reviewing it in trade only from here on out.

Recommended If…

  • Roller Derby is your sport of choice
  • You’re looking for something silly and lighthearted, but you still want to see the occasional decapitation
  • An animal rescue always makes you happy, especially when it’s a dachshund
  • You’re cool with ignoring the rest of New 52 continuity
  • DC needs a book sort of like Marvel’s “Deadpool”


It’ll be too wacky for some but for many this will be exactly the book they’ve been waiting for. It has the fantastical character’s everyday life aspect of Hawkeye supercharged with the zaniness of Deadpool. If you’re looking for a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and you’re a big fan of Harley Quinn, then I think you’re going to adore this. Personally, I only enjoy characters like Harley or the Joker when they are used in moderation and I found myself falling into the “This is too wacky” category.

SCORE: 6/10