Review: Harleen #1

“Harleen” – Book One
Writer: Stjepan Šejiċ
Artist: Stjepan Šejiċ
Letterer: Gabriela Downie
Review by Kendra Hale

Dr. Harleen Quinzel Speaking

This series has been on my mind since I discovered it was coming out. The artist has been teasing the brilliant art for the series on his social media for months, and it’s been absolute torture watching this exquisite art popping up online, with small snippets of the letters done. Piece by piece, I’ve watched and waited. Finally, it happened. I got the file to read and review… but I want more. I’m not ashamed to say this issue is the first comic since the Blackest Night saga where I went into a comic store and had to have the hard copy in my hands. I was not disappointed with Harleen #1 in the very least.

Setting The Mood

This issue gives us insight into the person Harleen was before she became Harley Quinn. We get the opportunity to watch her as she tries to complete her thesis on prisoners being akin to soldiers of war, in the way that constantly being surrounded by violence can cause loss of empathy. Once her grant is approved by Wayne Industries, she begins her research at Arkham Asylum. We get to meet a lot of familiar faces from the villains gallery, but the best and most important relationship she builds, as we well know, is with The Joker. What I love though is that, while he is a part of the story, he’s more like Hannibal Lecter. His part is limited in this first issue, but when he appears it’s magic, when experiencing the marriage of story and art.

In Harleen #1, we truly get a chance to meet the younger Harleen Quinzel; a doctor who just wants to help improve lives around her. There are many promises made in this issue as to what is coming, done in a way that doesn’t detract from the story happening right there and now. The narration by the future Harley Quinn was beautiful. My favorite parts of the issue were the still frames, captured in time by Stjepan Šejiċ.

Moments In The Mist

Stjepan does wizard’s work with his story building and it shows all throughout this first chapter. He takes his time showing us the world through Harleen’s eyes, and I loved every minute of it. He has taken us to new heights in the Harley Verse and has created an absolutely breathtaking masterpiece that keeps you on the edge of your seat and enthralled. The flow is practically perfect as his artwork complements the story so well, that it takes you into the book and allows you to see it unfold as the emotions become reality. Harleen is so sassy in this issue and the facial expressions are dead on.

Conclusion

Between Stjepan and Gabriela, this has been an amazing beginning and it hits hard. Captivating and brilliantly done in every way. The lettering gives perfect transitions between narration and dialogue. Harleen #1 was worth the wait, and if what I have seen in teasers prove true, there is only more genius coming.

Detective Comics #1009
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment