Harleen #2 – Stepan Sejic, Writer/Artist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Harleen #2, which continues Stepan Sejic’s retelling of the origin of Harley Quinn, delves deeper and darker into the early days of her infatuation with the Joker, and it does a lot of things right in the process. Primary among them is that it’s clear Sejic doesn’t view this as a love story – it’s a story of someone sinking into mental illness, but that mental illness takes the form of an affair.
As Harleen Quinzel becomes more and more enmeshed with Joker, she starts to lose control of other parts of her life. She stops sleeping well, she becomes more dependent on alcohol, and she becomes dangerously reckless with her professional life. She even stops taking the care she needs with her other patients, which leads to my favorite scene of the issue, where she gets called out by her OTHER supervillain SO – Poison Ivy, who she has more genuine chemistry with in one scene than she does with Joker in forty. That’s not to say the Joker segments aren’t good, though – they are, but they’re haunting.
The scenes with just Joker and Harley in his cell are excellent, as we see him break down her defenses one by one and watch her make every bad decision she possibly can. But Harleen #2 does try to do a little too much, particularly in the ongoing subplot involving Two-Face. Not only do we see him get scarred – in very graphic fashion – this issue, but we see him evolve into his supervillain personality in record time. His Two-Face personality here is so over the top to almost be cartoonish, and the attempt on his life also brings rise to a vigilante gang of rogue police officers who are killing the criminals Batman and the GCPD won’t.
The series has a lot on its mind, and segments with Batman and Gordon are exceptional. The boom in Harley comics has led to a lot of interesting takes – just in the last few months, we’ve had Harley as a mentally ill doctor here, an obsessed profiler, and a teenage rebel. They all have their strengths and weak points, but this is a gorgeous and highly creepy take on the classic Harley.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.