Review: Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn #1

“Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn” – Chapter One and “Presque Vu”, Part One
Writers: Tini Howard, Leah Williams 
Artists:  Hayden Sherman, Ben Templesmith
Color Artists: Triona Farrell, Ben Templesmith  
Letterers: Steve Wands, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Review by Kendra Smart

Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn #1 has arrived and readers get a dive into the nightmares of the Queen of Chaos. Being caught up in dreamscapes and nightmarish planes inside her mind is no foreign ground for our favorite jester, but there may be surprises around the corner waiting as the chaos unfolds.

Before we dip into that pool let’s stop a moment and take in the covers offered for Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn #1, because what are we? Spoiled… and loving it.

We get many amazing choices, with a variety of scenes depicted for our pleasure and wandering eyes. For a reference Carla Cohen gives exclusive covers that are utterly divine as Harley is the focus of one as she’s on Earth 43 fighting the Blood League. While the other cover by Carla is the exquisite render of face by face sleeping Harley and Ivy. The cover is drool worthy, if you can grab it…do so. Of course, we get equally impressive artwork from the other cover artists. Let’s grab a quick peek.

Let’s Get To Work, Doc

The selections we get for cover art are so wonderful. When looking through the options it is so hard to pick just one. From Hayden Sherman we get the main cover, an arcade cab with a select your Harley screen, the glass cracked as our Harley is reflected in the glass. I love this cover because it reminds me of Five Nights At Freddy’s Custom Night and the mini game you play to earn lore. It is genius. Jenny Frisson gives us a lovely tear away version of Harley as the real rips through the game.  The attention to detail is so in tune and the lip snarl? Yes.

Casper Wijngaard gives us the 1:25 variant,  a funky graffiti skull made up of different costumed Harleys. The colors are so great and it’s such a fun cover. Sweeney Boo comes through with the 1:50 variant and gives fans a lost in the woods Harley Quinn. It’s as ominous as it is beautiful as we see creatures hiding in the shadows ready to attack our beloved Harls.

Dustin Nguyen gives us such a slam-dunk with the Midnight Variant. It’s so simple, just Harley blowing a bubble but the way the details are interwoven so seamlessly and thoughtfully done. My favorite however comes from Tula Lotay and is a hard homage to an infamous scene from Carrie. It was instantly recognizable and I love, love, love the Harley twist.

Honor Otter 

Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn #1 starts with Harley waking up and immediately recognizing that she’s once again Dr. Harleen Quinzel. As she navigates the maze of this hospital, answering her pages, she realizes something is far and away off. Rushed by a wave of Jokers, and then facing the death of Ivy at the hands of the Anti-Monitor, Harley rejects the dream. It isn’t her first rodeo, after all. The voice talking to her offers her a bonus for her speed-run ability, a cheat guide of sorts. To truly enter the matrix.

Down the rabbit hole of her choice in the plethora of Multiverse to explore, Harley actually learns things. She begins to see what it is that she’s running from. The door now open to her fears, a surprise contingency is also in effect. If Harley does die in one of these simulations she’ll be stuck until someone can pull her out; effectively trapped in the machine of her own making in this twisted “Choose Your Adventure” nightmare.

Just Wanna Be Okay Again

Let me start by saying that when learning we were going into Harley’s nightmares with this two-issue takeover, there were BIG creative shoes to fill. My expectations were so high for what would be delivered but Tini Howard gives us profoundness with easily identifiable pop culture references thrown in for dashes of spice. Themes of mental illness are given a respectful delivery, that Harley presents as she dances with her demons. The writing has such haunting lines, one that stuck with me is

It is your gift to dance with madness, and come away with joy.”

Just delicious morsels in every panel. Speaking of…  there are such unique dividers and scene set ups used. The techniques are magnificent and striking. Hayden Sherman gives us so much variety while still paying huge attention to the details. Paired with Triona Ferrell’s undeniable talent and precise color placements, and Steve Wands setting the tone… literally, there’s so much right and breathtaking with this issue.

Bonus Level

We get a short bonus story titled “Presque Vu” written by Leah Williams, with art and colors by Ben Templesmith, and letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The artwork is unique and really raw, and gritty. It’s a spiraling story that shows a future Harley asking for help from our current version. Everything seems off, however, and the road just keeps winding as reality begins to break and fracture the more Harley goes into the tale. I’m entirely curious to see the conclusion of this quirky tale.

Conclusion

Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn #1 gives readers what they deserve and then spoils them at every level of desire. I would have read this title on its own, without any context and still been entertained. I cannot wait to see if there’s a moment where Harley just shouts “Jumanji” to escape… but we shall see next issue!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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