Writers: Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Others
Artists: Bruce Timm, Jim Lee, John Timms, and Others
Collects Countdown #10, Batman Adventures #12, Batman #613, Gotham City Sirens #7, Suicide Squad #1, Batman #13, Harley Quinn #21, Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fools’ Special #1
With the theatrical release of Suicide Squad almost upon us, DC has made a wise decision in releasing a trade paperback compiling some key stories spanning Harley Quinn’s comic book history. Upon seeing the movie, many a curious fan will likely flock to nearby comic shops and booksellers looking to scoop up anything including her and, I must admit, this collection provides a very decent primer. Give this thing one read and you’re in like Quinn (yes, I just printed that).
The first thing to get out of the way is obviously the origin story. Sure, Harley’s New 52 origin as seen in Secret Origins #4 may have been preferred by some as it more accurately reflects modern continuity, but including a streamlined depiction of the events in question from Countdown #10 wasn’t a bad idea at all. It simplifies matters for the casual reader and is illustrated by her co-creator, Bruce Timm, to boot.
For those who don’t feel like draining their bank accounts hunting down Harley’s first appearance in a comic book (Batman Adventures #12), this collection provides an affordable way to read that tale. Although she is not the main focus, reading it felt just as entertaining as watching an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. If you like stories featuring Gotham City’s leading ladies such as Batgirl, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy, you will in no way be disappointed.
On that note, an installment of Gotham City Sirens is included that gives insight into Harley’s family life. Adding Suicide Squad #1 to the mix felt like a no-brainer, but while the stories taken from tales such as Hush and Death of the Family were certainly cool, new readers may find themselves a bit confused reading them out of context. I and likely many of the people reading this review know exactly where those stories go, but reading a fraction of such ambitious arcs may invoke ambivalence in the uninitiated.
The inclusion of Harley Quinn #21 could also be viewed in that regard, but it does a decent job of standing on its own. It was probably chosen for this collection due to Deadshot’s appearance, although it probably would have been better to have gone with Harley Quinn #1 (New 52). Think about it: It’s very introductory in nature and would have certainly provided a better jumping on point for those wanting to fill their cart with more Harley books.
Finally, Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fools’ Special #1 can be found within. While it’s pretty enjoyable and humorous, it somewhat portrays Harley as a lovable villain, as opposed to a morally grey character that is more so leaning toward the side of good in her solo series. Regardless of that, it’s a recommended read for those intending to indulge in the upcoming Suicide Squad series that’s part of the Rebirth era.
Aside from some minor gripes and my wishing they would have included something drawn by Chad Hardin, I think fans of Harley both new and old should add this to their shelves. But if I may make a suggestion, be sure to buy Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti along with this.