In which our doomed doctor makes a choice she can never take back-one that seals her dark fate and gives rise to one of the most legendary villains of all time!
The Harleen miniseries finishes with a bang in it’s third and final issue, delivering a powerful and emotion-filled story that represents the ultimate cautionary tale of DC’s most tragic relationship.
I’ve expressed my apprehension with this series’ willingness to once more dive into the dangerous waters that is the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker before. It’s a toxic and abusive relationship that put’s Harley in an incredibly dark place, costing years of her life and causing her to spiral into absolute madness. It’s taken a very long time to pull the character from those depths and establish her as a leading woman figure that got out of such a damaging relationship. Despite those feelings, I must admit, Harleen #3 handles the descent into toxicity with utmost respect and care.
The deliberate downfall was a tough one to swallow, not because of it’s artistic execution, but because of the themes explored and how powerfully they speak within the narrative. This issue was forced to pull a lot of the weight of Harley actually falling for the Joker and becoming the character we all know today, and it pulled it off magnificently. It doesn’t ask us to sympathize with the Joker or validate his treatment of her. Instead, it walks us through the psychological steps taken to confront the approaching reality of the decision to be with such a person.
That’s really been the highlight of this entire miniseries as well. The in-depth psychological exploration using Dr. Harleen Quinzel as a catalyst creates a much more relatable experience that makes her descent believable and more impactful. This issue works so well because of the intricate steps the previous issues took to get us to this point. It’s a carefully thought out story that gives an honest look into how such a relationship can even come to fruition.
As we watch the psychotically heartfelt moments occur from her first time sleeping with Joker to finding him during the Arkham breakout, we see the breaking down of Dr. Harleen Quinzel and the emergence of Harley Quinn. This transition is subtle, but remarkably effective. Other characters in Gotham are but footnotes to her origin story, putting all the focus on Harley and her increasing tunnel-vision for the Joker. It’s a story that is heartbreaking to watch unfold, but still somehow exciting by the time we see Harley Quinn fully realized in her classic jester suit. This conflicting feeling is compounded by the inclusion of the lucid Dr. Harleen Quinzel locked away in the recesses of her mind, struggling to reclaim sanity. In this multilayered character exploration, the series truly shines.
None of these powerful storytelling elements would have succeeded nearly as well without the truly impressive visuals from both Stjepan Sejic and Gabriela Downie. The entire series is absolutely beautiful and helps the story to really stand apart from everything else we’ve seen of the character. It’s difficult to find any complaints because it’s just that good.
Is this the story that the character needed to be told in this day? That’s for the reader to decide. However, if we are going to retrace the traumatic and toxic origins of Harley and Joker’s relationship, I believe this is the way to do it. With tact, delicacy and an understanding of the underlying elements of the character that contribute to her enduring legacy. This is the most complex origin story of Harley Quinn to date, so do yourself a favor and go pick up all three issues to a long binge session.
Harleen #3 is the ultimate cautionary tale of DC's most tragic couple. Is this the story that the character truly needed to be told right now? That's for the reader to decide. However, if we are going to retrace the traumatic and toxic origins of Harley and Joker's relationship, I believe this is the way to do it.
Harleen #3 (of 3): Even the Darkest Night Must End…
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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