For the first time in print, 19 short tales of Gotham City’s craziest clown princess are presented in nothing but black, white, and bold splashes of red. See how Harley’s story unfolds in worlds beyond the DC Universe, in the alternate timelines of Batman: White Knight, Harleen, and the Harley Quinn animated series! Witness her darkest hours and her happiest moments! Behold a-wait a second, did she just…win an underground rap battle?!
Instead of doing a traditional review, I decided I would create some categories to place some of these stories into. There are nineteen one off stories in this collection, and I just wanted to highlight some of them, both the good and the bad.
Now, despite my opinion of each story discussed, I love reading any type of work featuring Harley Quinn. She is my favorite character from the DC Universe, so whenever I can read something exploring the different sides of her, I am excited.
With that out of the way, let’s go to the list!
“Who Diss?” by Tim Seeley (Writer) and Juan Ferreyra (Artist)
Have you ever wanted to see Harley in a rap battle? Well, this is the story for you!
The story begins with fanboys of The Joker attempting to attack Harley in order to gain access to his mixtape. I was immediately intrigued.
From there, we follow Harley as she and Poison Ivy infiltrate an underground rap battle in order to win the coveted mixtape.
Throughout the battles, Harley dominates her competition by using her psychiatry lens to spot all of their flaws.
The story culminates in the final showcase, where The Joker shows up and his mixtape is revealed. Let’s just say he’s no Eminem.
“Get Yer Story Straight” by Saladin Ahmed (Writer) and Javier Rodriguez (Artist)
The entire plot of this one shot is that three guys who stole from Harley are detailing the events that took place, and they all have different ways of recounting it.
While there are some base similarities between each retelling, Harley’s lack of sanity is represented in different ways.
Normally, I love when I get to see different artistic styles displayed throughout a story, but the plot was the downfall for this one.
Even though the basic story was told multiple times, I couldn’t remember a single detail. I actually had to go back to see what they even stole from her.
In comparison to the other stories told in this collection, it had the least amount of details I could remember.
“Red Ink” by Patrick Schumacker (Writer) and Eleonora Carlini (Artist)
While I have never seen the Harley Quinn series on HBO, it is something that has caught my interest just with the screengrabs.
This story takes place in this series, and the comedy throughout is great! I found myself laughing at every panel.
Whether it’s Bane giving some career advice to Harley while they exercise or Lex Luthor ranting about an email leak that revealed one of their own hates Taylor Swift, the type of humor throughout is definitely up my alley.
“Fixer-Upper” by Jordie Bellaire (Writer) and Greg Smallwood (Artist)
Told through a series of riddles and flashbacks, Harley tries to uncover one last gift that The Joker left for her.
As she goes through these memories, she stays despondent and upset. However, it’s the ending that really reveals the sadness she feels in response to how The Joker views her.
The very last riddle leads her to a present. She flashes back to the times when she would open gifts from him and receive a pie to the face. That’s when it clicks in her mind that The Joker doesn’t even remember her birthday.
I genuinely felt sorry for Harley as she goes through this journey of memories.
Biggest Waste of Time
“The Life and Death of Harley Quinn” by Riley Rossmo (Writer and Artist)
Whenever a show or a movie has an episode or scene where it’s revealed at the end that it was just a dream, most people are disappointed. The stakes that they showcased were non-existent and any character growth someone may have had is destroyed.
In the case of this story, everything detailed in the panels was a bedtime story for Harley’s hyenas.
Normally, when it comes to her or any other characters where they have a fragile mental state, I am accepting of these dream scenarios as they give us a glimpse into their mindset and how they view the world.
Unfortunately, due to the art style that used a lot of red, and the strange organization of the panels, it was hard for me to even follow along. It actually hurt my eyes to try and read it.
So, imagine how disappointed I felt when this was just a bedtime story for her two hyenas.
While I know that these are one off stories, they all have the capability of being picked up and continued elsewhere if wanted. This is not the case with this one.
“Hypothetically Speaking” by Simon Spurrier (Writer) and Otto Schmidt (Artist)
It’s seen time and time again that people underestimate Harley Quinn due to her relationship with The Joker and her unique actions.
However, it’s important to remember that Harley was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. She does have a doctorate degree.
She uses this degree to her advantage as she analyzes the true weaknesses of superheroes and how they could be defeated. From ego (The Flash) to their self-sacrificing nature (Superman), Harley runs down what needs to be done, all while she has fun.
This was a fascinating read, and the twist at the end was fun.
“Sunshine Getaway” by Dani (Writer and Artist)
When reading any comic or graphic novel, if the artwork doesn’t immediately capture my interest, then it’s going to be a tough time for the plot of the story to keep me engaged.
Unfortunately, both the art and the plot worked against my enjoyment of it.
For the most part, the artwork seems incomplete and out of focus. This style of fuzzy line art also bled into the words.
When it comes to the plot, it focuses on Harley on the hunt for her two missing hyenas. Even though she took a vacation to take her mind off of her breakup with The Joker, it seems like trouble is still following her.
While this sounds interesting in theory, it just wasn’t. Her antagonist in the story was mostly whiny because Harley used him as a rebound, and everyone in the story was quickly taken out.
“Harleen: Red” by Stjepan Šejić (Writer & Artist)
The saying “saving the best for last” did not apply to this collection for me. The first story I read ended up being my favorite of them all. With its amazing artwork, and its captivating tale, I loved every moment of it.
The story centers around Harley as she is in Arkham. Every night, she calls out for Red, and those in charge are determined to figure out what she is talking about.
In this story, Harley is a bit more menacing in her insanity, but also wistful as she reflects on what the color red means to her.
*Chapter covers courtesy of Amazon.com