Harleen #3 – Stepan Sejic, Writer/Artist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: I wanted to issue a content warning for Harleen #3 that it contains extremely disturbing scenes of sexual and emotional abuse suffered by Harleen, so much so that I couldn’t get through more than a few pages at a time. Especially a Content Warning for sexual assault survivors. For a review, all I can say is that if you do write this kind of story, recreating every element of the abusive relationship is not the way to go.
Now, onto Ray’s review.
Ray: Harleen #3, Stepan Sejic’s final chapter in the evolution of Harley Quinn is a dark, disturbing dive into madness that shows us the origins of not one but two DC villains. It’s a jarring read because it is so different than any Harley comic we’ve seen recently.
This is essentially the story of Mad Love from the animated series, only told through the filter of Black Label. Lots of sex, lots of twisted intimacy, and an eventual explosion of violence in the place that will become Harley’s home. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Harley this…weak, for lack of a better word. The first issue made clear that this was Harley looking back on her past self with horror, but that seems to have been lost a bit as the series went on. We’re fully immersed in Harley’s mind as she surrenders to Joker, and it’s like watching a train-wreck in slow motion. That’s not to say this is a bad book – it’s brilliantly drawn, and the writing is strong enough that it’s hard to look away even as every brain cell is telling you this is going to end horribly.
I do think this is probably the weakest issue of the three, because Harley has fully descended into madness and it can be hard to read. Watching her twisted sex games with the Joker and her bizarre fantasies about him is a depressing read, only made better by the fact that we know she’s going to get past this. Sejic does better when he’s working with other villains. His Two-Face is terrifying, his psychosis made far more visible in the style of a “companion” urging him on to make twisted decisions. Sejic recently teased that he would be doing an Ivy-centric follow-up to this mini titled “Isley”, and based on the few pages we get of her here, that should be brilliant. She and Harley still have more chemistry than Harley does with Joker. The explosion of carnage that ends the book is tense, dramatic, and gorgeous but also slightly predictable. It’s a testament to Sejic’s talent that this book – which could have been a complete mess in lesser hands – is as compelling as it is.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.