Harley Quinn is back in Gotham for good! No, literally, she’s leaving the Joker and her old life behind and trying to do good.
“Trying” being the operative word.
Her ongoing solo series relaunched in 2021 after the events of “The Joker War,” which left Gotham City feeling more unstable than ever. Can Harley Quinn help fix the city when her old friends were the ones who shattered it?
The first volume of Harley Quinn from Stephanie Phillips and Riley Rossmo is a colorfully chaotic collection of Harley’s efforts to turn over a new leaf. And considering that the volume concludes with a one-issue adventure with Catwoman that shouldn’t be missed, I’d say that Harley Quinn Vol. 1: No Good Deed is the purr-fect weekend binge. (That’s the only pun in here, I promise.)
Gotham City is in shambles after the Joker, Punchline and their legion of loyal clowns ran rampant in the streets during the Joker’s war on Batman. They left only destruction in their wake. The Joker was ultimately defeated, but Batman can still use all the help he can get to keep the peace—even if that means teaming up with one Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Well, she thinks they’re teaming up. He’s mostly just tolerating her.
When Dr. Hugo Strange is appointed by the mayor to head up Gotham’s rehabilitation efforts, Harley knows there’s something shady going on. But can a former baddie ever be trusted to be one of the good guys?
Let’s Talk Talent:
Stephanie Phillips has written Harley Quinn tie-ins and one-shots alongside Harley’s solo series and penned two sensational issues of Sensational Wonder Woman that led to a longer Wonder Woman miniseries, Wonder Woman: Evolution. Her artistic cohort in crime, Riley Rossmo, re-designed Harley Quinn’s costume for this series with a well-balanced blend of her classic and cinematic looks. His riotous style, which seems to defy the laws of gravity (and possibly the laws of Gotham), lends itself perfectly to Harley Quinn as a character. Rossmo, a veteran artist for DC, is currently working on the new Tim Drake: Robin solo series.
A bonus comic in the collection, “New Roots” from Batman: Urban Legends #1, is a story from Stephanie Phillips and Laura Braga that takes place prior to the main story. Braga, who also stepped in as the artist for issue #6, illustrated the Maid of Mischief in DC Comics Bombshells and Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- Kevin. Just everything about Kevin. Once a member of the clowns causing chaos in the Joker’s name, this regular
JoeKevin is also trying to make amends. But with a tattoo of the Joker emblazoned on his face, escaping his past won’t be easy. Harley is there to help him through it. While it’s difficult to deem Kevin “innocent,” his experience illuminates why a seemingly normal guy would choose to follow someone as irrational as the Joker.
- Harley’s inner dialogue. Harley Quinn has an uncanny perception when it comes to people—including herself. With a PhD in psychology, she’s fiercely intelligent and she knows it. When Harley turns her focus inward, she has no illusions about who she is and what she’s done. It’s a brilliant use of the character that leads to insights you might not have thought about otherwise.
- A pep talk from Solomon Grundy. Seriously, that happens. Not only is Harley unbothered by the hulking zombie who calls the sewers home, she’s comfortable enough to talk to him about her problems. (You know you’re having a bad day when you go to Solomon Grundy for advice.) Mr. Born on a Monday offers some surprisingly useful counsel.
Why It’s Worth Your Time:
Harley Quinn is fearless, but never heartless. Her good intentions can be felt in every panel. Ms. Quinn is her best self when she’s free of the Joker and this first volume of her solo series highlights it. The bonus stories instead team her up with Poison Ivy (swoon!) and Catwoman, and Harley thrives with both.
While Harley will probably never reach the rank of “superhero,” it’s because she chooses to be her own kind of hero instead—an unpredictable, impulsive and volatile hero, sure, but a hero nonetheless. If you’re looking to liven things up, a weekend binge with Harley Quinn is a guaranteed way to do it, especially with this month marking the character’s 30th Anniversary.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.