Detective Comics #23.2 – Harley Quinn #1 review
Matt Kindt (Author) Neil Googe (Art)
Some lovely artwork (and finishing the comic).
It's not Harley Quinn, stop fixing what's not broken DC.
Where shall I begin, I think I should start off with some form of a disclaimer. I am not a fan of the New 52 variant of Harley Quinn. Those of you who know me are well aware that I have a penchant for the original Quinn; that loveable psychotic jester. This characterisation that has been forced upon us, in my eyes is Hardley Quinn.
Before you go any further if you intend to read the comic, tread the rest lightly as it may contain spoilers; also if you haven’t read it and are a fan of the original Harley… I wouldn’t bother.
I’ll admit I had low expectations; however I had faith in Kindt’s work, but what did we get? We get a regurgitation of Suicide Squad #7! They decide to go down the origin route (again), but with some added details of how she pieced her “costume” together and the methods of psychoanalysis she used during her time as a psychiatrist at Arkham. This was somewhat different from what we read in Suicide Squad…
So DC, before I go any further, why do you feel the need to continuously change and adapt a perfectly formed origin story (and character) that we all experienced and loved within “Mad Love”? Her origin story had no flaws, was perfectly understandable for her psychosis and her character development. In the addition to her origin in Suicide Squad #7; whereby she fell into a vat of acid a blonde and climbing out with her perma-red and black split hair, now Harley chooses to dye her hair those colours prior to diving into an acid bath; which happens makes those colours set permanently…. Totally makes more sense DC…
There was little need to explain her origin as it was dealt with just over a year ago and the details that are added are no great revelation to her character development; which kind of made the comic a little bit redundant.
The artwork which is done by Neil Googe, is actually quite nice, it’s got a lovely expressive style, is quite cartoonish which you’d think would be perfect and fitting for a fun, loveable, and most of all comedic Harley Quinn. However, this comic lacks true Harley Quinn traits. There should always be a great deal of humour within Harley’s stories; look back at what Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created. What we see today in the New 52 is irredeemable; she’s a mere a shadow and, in my eyes, she cannot even be correlated to the same character anymore.
The Joker’s presence in Harleen’s life is barely even there in any part of the New 52. What happened to her gradual obsession with the Prince of Crime? It’s non-existent. Harleen became Harley because she succumbs to the Joker, she allows her obsession with him to consume her. Her mere existence is purely for his own amusement. So within this comic, Harley takes a very unusual, some would even argue unorthodox, approach to psychology when dealing with the Arkham Inmates. She decides to disguise herself as an inmate, as this will apparently make her understand them better; in order help them. The Joker is even giving free time in the asylum yard around other inmates (which really does not seem like privileges he’d be granted). However, it’s during this time Harley is able to approach him, this all seemed rather unnecessary and I found this “origin” story all a bit insulting to the original birth of her character.
Shortly after this we get that brand new information about how she gets her “costume”; which let’s be honest it’s widely hated. It’s a costume that has certainly over-sexualised the character, and the ironic aspect is a part of the costume came from a prostitute. Once she has gathered her costume together, this is where we’d expect to see some character development between her and the Joker right?? WRONG! These days seem to be long behind us within the world of Quinn, she no longer has her “pudding”.
This comic makes me question whether Harley and Joker even had a relationship at all; this has been completely missed. Where is the history between them? Harley has become numb, she has no purpose within her world now, she has no Joker and is no longer part of the squad; she is suffering from disassociation. The comical side of her is gone, the character we see now is far from the same villain we’ve all read about countless of times; and fell in love with in Batman: The Animated Series.
This character is dark and violent, and at the end of this comic seems to actually be killing countless numbers of children, why?? She’s lost purpose, she appears to have given up. There are a few panels where you get that glimmer of the cheerful character we once knew, whilst she’s handing out these explosives to children disguised as gameboys – but that’s all we get a slight glimmer of the Harley we all previously knew before the New 52. For me personally, I did not enjoy this, the changes of origin again, the appearance of the character, her lack of character development. It’s just not the same anymore. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini got it right, so why change that?