Harley Quinn #1 Review: A Fabulous Fresh Start for This Beloved DC Comics Character

A favorite character from the very moment she debuted, Harley Quinn began as a supporting character who is far better served as the star of her own story. So, when the previous Harley Quinn title concluded last year and the character shifted back into that supporting role in DC Comics' main line it was bittersweet. Harley had come such a long way across those pages, dealing with personal loss and embracing her own sense of purpose and self. Now Harley is back in a new Harley Quinn #1, and it is both a triumphant return for the often-zany character and an impressive next chapter for a more mature and self-assured Harley—a Harley ready to face her past and embark upon a bright future.

In Harley Quinn #1, Harley returns to Gotham to get a fresh start at the worst possible time with the city left in a very different state following the Joker War. Right at the start she finds her attempts to make amends aren't well-received, which in turn works well with her efforts to become a member of the Batfamily—a suspicious Batman is always a delight when paired with Harley Quinn. It's a complicated balancing act, but writer Stephanie Phillips handles both the story and the characterization of Harley Quinn with expert ease. Phillips' Harley is one that is funny and very much recognizable to long-time fans of the character, but also possesses a maturity that makes Harley Quinn #1a perfect place to get acquainted with the anti-heroine. Phillips' Harley is no caricature and has the substance and wit to feel an elevated version of her original iteration created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm.

harley quinn 1 dc comics
(Photo: DC Comics)

What is a bit surprising here in considering this fresh yet familiar version of Harley Quinn is Riley Rossmo's art. Rossmo has a very distinctive, almost surreal, style that isn't always a great fit to the comic at hand. There are exaggerations and distortions that have not served past stories well, but in the case of Harley Quinn #1, Rossmo's art is a perfect match. It makes Phillips' take on Harley a bit more grounded while also giving the book a rich, kinetic feel, especially during fight sequences. Tying it all together are Ivan Plascencia's colors which are an absolute delight and Deron Bennett's letters. All of these talented players come together very well in the pages of Harley Quinn.

Harley Quinn #1 is a fantastic launching point for the newest chapter featuring this beloved DC Comics character. While some readers may find the issue's time spent establishing Harley as she is now distracting, this rich reintroduction to the character is a much-needed, well-crafted, and absolutely refreshing in words, art, and everything that connects them. It is a truly great issue and one that welcomes long-time Harley Quinn fans and prepares to win over plenty of new ones.

Published by DC Comics

On March 23, 2021

Written by Stephanie Phillips

Art by Riley Rossmo

Colors by Ivan Plascencia

Letters by Deron Bennett

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Cover by Riley Rossmo