Harleen #2 – Review
Harleen is ftom DC’s Black Label line, giving us a new look at the origin of Harley Quinn. It’s well established that Psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel was treating the Joker in Arkham Asylum. The Clown Prince of Crime managed to draw the already unbalanced doctor across the line into becoming his accomplice.
Writer/Artist: Stejpan Sejic
Letterer: Gabriela Downie
Cover Artist: Stejpan Sejic
In Shops: Oct 30, 2019
Despite the strongest objections from every possible authority-including district attorney Harvey Dent-Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s found herself with free access to every inmate in Arkham Asylum, where she desperately pursues a revolutionary and highly controversial cure to the insanity of Gotham. But her work with the city’s super-criminals quickly muddies the waters of good and evil, and in the deepest, darkest padded rooms of Arkham, even the words of a mad clown start making sense!
It’s a real pleasure following Stejpan Sejic’s Twitter feed and seeing all the stuff he’s working on. His series Sunstone is fantastic. He’s also great about indulging a passion for fan art, such as a hypothetical Wonder Woman / Lara Croft crossover. In all of it, he rides a fine line between cartooning and naturalistic painting. Still, he can do very expressive faces, and one look at the pages of Harleen demonstrate it.
This issue is about the dance between Joker and Dr. Quinzel. She also demonstrates her descent into the Joker’s mindset. That’s demonstrated partly by the reaction Gotham City has to the attack that turns Harvey Dent into Two-Face. We also see a flash of the future with her interaction with Poison Ivy. As a fan of the Harley / Ivy pairing, I really enjoyed seeing the instant chemistry between the two.
The difference in the way Poison Ivy plays with Dr. Quinzel is different than how the Joker does it. Ivy is almost direct, pointing out attraction without calling it such. The Joker plays a longer game. He plants the seeds and waits to see the cracks appear in the sidewalk. It’s been speculated by more than one person that the Joker isn’t insane, and this seems to reinforce this. He is in control of their interactions and knows every step of the way. The only other person with any type of agenda with Harleen is Mr. Bronson the chief of Arkham security. Unfortunately, by the time he reaches out, Joker has played her just right. She is hooked.
I also want to compliment Sejic’s rendering of Batman. We see his eyes glow in the darkness. I believe here that Sejic is explaining why his eyes appear white. We also see him making himself intimidating to Dr. Quinzel. To her credit, she does manage to get an answer out of him. This interaction is important because without realizing it, Batman is helping Joker seduce Harleen.
One other thing to watch out for is the foreshadowing in little details. The tiles on the walls in Arkham are turned 45 degree. As a result, this gives them a harlequin motif. The shadows on her red t-shirt almost seem to bisect it like her traditionally first costume. When she comes in from the rain, her umbrella is the traditional red and black color theme. The most obvious is the Executioners’ masks, split half black and half red. I like seeing this type of storytelling. We get it so seldom in modern comics.
I’m going back to pick up the first issue, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this book. I recommend picking it up.
Final rating: 9.0 (out of 10)