Future State - Harley Quinn #1
In a bold move that rocks Gotham City, the Magistrate has imprisoned Harley Quinn! The villain—once known as the Scarecrow, now a pawn of the Magistrate—taps into Harley’s knowledge of Gotham’s villains and the Black Mask Gang for his own dark purposes. Crane and his bosses think they have Harley Quinn defeated and her spirit broken, but they are sorely mistaken—and Harley will have her revenge. Written by rising star writer Stephanie Phillips and drawn by fan-favorite artist Simone Di Meo, the next era of Harley Quinn begins here!
DC’s latest line-wide event FUTURE STATE has arrived for Harley Quinn, finding the titular character in quite a precarious position as she is imprisoned and forced to work under Dr. Jonathan Crane. It’s a fresh take on the character supported by truly wonderful artwork that sets a memorable tone.
There is quite a lot happening in the DC Universe following the end of the Death Metal event, spurring us into the future for new tales of our favorite heroes (and otherwise). Harley Quinn is no different, but this issue is just a little more curious because it is a precursor to Harley’s upcoming ongoing series written also by Stephanie Phillips. So how does this new take on Harley feel? Well, it’s very good, that much is certain, but there are still a few areas of improvement. The characterization feels a little more reserved or dialed back, less whimsical and more interpretive. This vision of Harley plays much more to her psychiatric roots and intelligence rather than her whimsical penchant for violence.
And that’s okay. The story is actually predicated on her ability to understand people in all of their nuances. Phillips weaves a detective-style story seemingly torn straight from Silence of the Lambs except instead of a cannibalistic psychopath Hannibal Lecter working with Clarice Starling, we have Harley Quinn working with Jonathan Crane. It’s interesting, and sets up a story with wonderful potential to bring in multiple villains in Gotham without feeling forced, which both expands on the grand nature of the Future State event while also putting Harley at the center of an extensive story. Sure, the humor is lacking and general sense of whimsy that is so often associated with Harley, but this is a unique place to find the character in, working with a known villain to catch other villains. Her place in the DC Universe is always murky, but this story walks that thin line in a great way.
The real strength is in Simone DiMeo’s outstanding artwork. They have been rising in popularity lately with hits like We Only Find Them When They’re Dead and BOOM!’s Power Rangers series, but DiMeo’s work in Future State – Harley Quinn #1 shows DiMeo’s wildly intriguing potential in comics. The aesthetic is unlike anything else on shelves and adapted to suit Harley’s look with tact and obvious skill. This is a Harley Quinn like we have never seen before and I’m not so sure it would’ve been as successful without DiMeo’s execution, brought to life even more by Bonvillain’s always enjoyable colors and Peteri consistent lettering.
What’s interesting to me personally is how contained this story really is, considering it is part of a line-wide event. There isn’t much outside of the Magistrate’s taking over Gotham that gives context to the reason behind the story, but maybe that’s a good thing. For a Harley Quinn story, the creative team delivers a book that is entertaining, beautiful and strikingly curious. Hopefully Harley will be out of her restraints a little more in the second issue to see her at her full potential, but this is a strong start that will certainly leave readers excited for the next issue following a particularly dark cliffhanger.
For those looking to jump into reading Harley Quinn comics, look no further. This is what I would call a perfect jumping on point, giving us a look at who this character is following her last series written by Humphries. You don’t need to know much going into Future State – Harley Quinn #1 and I think it’s all the better for it. This comic is worth picking up, that much is for sure, and hopefully the best is yet to come!
Future State - Harley Quinn #1 is an enjoyably fresh take on the character supported by truly wonderful artwork that sets a memorable tone.
Future State – Harley Quinn #1: Do Ya Agree to My Terms?
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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