Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey #1 debuted today on the heels of Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ Birds of Prey & the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. How does the book fair, and, more importantly, does the book serve as a solid companion for anyone who liked the movie and decided to dip their toes into comics? Find out below.

The Story

As with the movie, I feel many of us approached Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey curious to see what the book would actually be like. Would it follow Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s run, or would it stand alone as its own thing but with a similar vibe? Well, I’m happy to say that this is very much a continuation of what Jimmy and Amanda did for years in their run on Harley Quinn. If you were a fan of their run, you’re almost guaranteed to love this book… You know, if you don’t mind bumping the vulgarity up to an “R rating.”

If you bought this book hoping for a solid dose of the Birds of Prey, then I’m sorry to tell you that you might be a little disappointed. Nearly the entire issue is dedicated to Harley, revisiting plots and characters that Jimmy and Amanda developed during their run, before setting up the plot that will take Harley to Gotham. But seriously, you don’t see any of the Birds until roughly 30 pages in, so curb your expectations if that’s what you’re looking forward to.

Now, with that out of the way, what should you expect from Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey? Well, everything you came to love about this creative team’s run on Harley Quinn. It’s brash, crass, crazy, wacky fun! The only difference is that the vulgarity of the book is dialed up quite a bit.

The story kicks off with Harley dreaming about her and Poison Ivy on an island getaway. The two have kidnapped Jimmy Olsen and have Superman doing their bidding until they give up Olsen’s location. If this plot sounds a little farfetched, it’s because it is. This is nothing more than a dream. Well, more like a nightmare. As it turns out, Harley’s had a hell of a week. She really did have an island getaway with Ivy, but Harley’s antics caused the trip to take a turn for the worst. In fact, it was so bad that Ivy isn’t speaking to Harley at the moment.

In addition to this, Harley’s current depression resulted in her forgetting to pay her less-than-reputable mortgage lenders the previous month’s mortgage for the hotel her gang of Harleys (remember them?) stay in. In turn, they decided to enforce their form of pay or quit by roughing up Big Tony and bombing the hotel. This is where the real plot of this title begins.

So much of the first half of this issue is spent exploring Harley and her supporting characters (Poison Ivy, Big Tony, her gang of Harleys, Power Girl, etc) that, when reading the book, you might find yourself wondering, “Where is this going and when will the actual story start?” What might seem like meandering is actually quite effective though. If Harley’s going to go to Gotham and team-up with the Birds of Prey, then there needs to be an acceptable reason that none of her typical allies would be with her. It’s an effective way to set-up and lay the foundation for the story we’re going to get, so kudos to Conner and Palmiotti.

As I mentioned earlier, the Birds don’t play into this issue until roughly the last few pages, and even then, it’s just Helena and Cassandra. Black Canary is nowhere to be found. Huntress and Cassandra’s arrival does boost the momentum of the book quite a bit though, and results in a highly entertaining, action-packed romp on the train to Gotham. It’s during this scene that the book really feels as though it gains it’s legs and starts moving.

Again, if you were a fan of Palmiotti and Conner’s run on Harley, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll enjoy this miniseries. The only difference here is the increase in vulgarity – both in language and visual depiction. The action scenes are quite violent compared to what we’re used to, and there’s a whole lot of f-bombs. Now, I don’t mind either of these (I cuss like a sailor), but I know that it will bother some people.

I will admit that I do feel as though the uncensored nature of this book takes away from some of the humor I’ve come to expect from this team. This isn’t so much of a knock as it is an acknowledgment. I feel as though the censorship of Harley Quinn forced Palmiotti and Conner to be more creative, sly, and tongue-in-cheek with their humor, and I found myself missing that here. All in all, this is a fun, action-packed read, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the next issue.

The Art

Amanda Conner delivers the art for this issue, and as expected, she does an incredible job. There’s a certain tone to her work that fits perfectly with Harley, and it always allows the script to fully embrace its lunacy and humor. But there’s more to Conner than just crazy antics. She’s able to deliver stellar action when required, and the train fight in this book is one of the more memorable fight sequences to occur in the pages of a comic for some time.

Conner’s talent could easily be overlooked by an untrained eye, but her ability to provide strong, sequential storytelling, while also juggling the numerous tones of this book, is much more difficult than we realize. And yet, she makes it look easy. Factor in Paul Mounts colors and we’re left with a product that elevates the script in every way.

Recommended if

  • You’ve needed a few f-bombs in your life.
  • You enjoyed Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
  • You’ve been waiting, desperately, for a follow-up to Conner and Palmiotti’s Harley.

Overall

Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey #1 is a balls-to-the-wall, action-packed, hilariously vulgar comic! Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti return to what fans loved so much about their original run on Harley Quinn, and find ways to mix it up a little with some f-bombs, gore, and the Birds of Prey. If you’re a fan of Harley Quinn or Palmiotti/ Conner, you won’t want to sleep on this one!

SCORE: 7.5/ 10