Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #1
Resolutely defiant in the face of all of Arkham’s attempts to psychoanalyze her, Harley Quinn is suddenly compelled to reveal some of her most vulnerable thoughts - and hints of her future -- when confronted with the simplest of prompts: “What does the color red mean to you?” Another stunningly beautiful story from the world of Stjepan Sejic’s bestselling HARLEEN!
The dark and lustfully twisted world of HARLEEN returns in the debut issue of Harley Quinn Black + White + Red, the newest DC Digital First series and arguably the best of the entire lineup yet. Sejic has captured a remarkable vision of Harley Quinn that is allowed one more thrilling story in this series, capitalizing on the opportunity with exciting revelations and brilliant artwork.
Many fans were excited to see this series announced so suddenly and packed with great creative talent, while some may have been wary of yet another Harley Quinn title. However, kicking things off with a spectacular entry from Sejic and Downie was a uniquely smart decision. HARLEEN was one of the better stories featuring Dr. Harleen Quinzel in recent years and the world was just teeming with storytelling potential. All of the nuance, depth of character and beautiful tension shines in this issue, breathing new life into the story even if just for a brief time.
Its quite difficult to overstate just how good this issue is, and while setting the bar so high may not bode well for future teams if the momentum isn’t maintained, I truly love how Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #1 turned out. Sejic’s powerful and emotional artwork carries every panel and Downie delivers some concise and interesting letters. There are a few pages that are sure to impress with their visual execution alone, but it’s the story that will have fans actually cheering.
If you are caught up on HARLEEN, the last couple pages in this issue are likely to leave you rather speechless, and certainly excited. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor, check it out and beware of spoilers. Sejic follows up on that trauma-filled story here with an exploration of its impacts and Harley’s desire for something more. There is an immediately noticeable passion to Sejic’s work that translated in some dark ways with the relationship between Joker and Harley. That same passion delivers something else entirely with the introduction of Poison Ivy as she arrives to save Harley. It’s a well earned moment that turns this story into something grand and inspiring. It’s the type of storytelling that will have you telling anyone vaguely interested to read, trust me.
It’s not a perfect book though. Much of the first half of the issue is essentially recapping her toxic relationship with the Joker within this vision of the character. It’s familiar territory for both fans of HARLEEN and simply the character in general, so the extended time spent on this retelling felt like it could have been better utilized. It certainly pulls everything together in the end for a memorable story, but I would have liked to see less of a Joker influence after such a comprehensive focus in the original series. Still, it’s a minor complaint in an otherwise spectacular issue.
Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #1 is an excellent example of the type of quality storytelling that the DC Digital First lineup can offer. It brings something fresh to the table in a very exciting way, and provides a wonderful moment for fans of Harley and Ivy everywhere. While HARLEEN may not be required reading to understand the nuances of what’s happening in this issue, fans are sure to be impressed with the direction this story takes. It’s one that I’ll definitely be coming back to read and enjoy more than once!
All of the intriguing nuance, depth of character and beautiful tension the creative team delivered in HARLEEN shines in Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #1, breathing new life into the story even if just for a brief time, with exciting revelations and brilliant artwork.
Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #1: What Does Red Mean to You?
Writing - 9.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/10
Art - 10/10
Color - 10/10
Cover Art - 10/10
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