Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn #1 – Katana Collins, Sean Murphy, Writers; Matteo Scalera, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The White Knight universe is one of DC’s most popular and most controversial alternate universes, and it concluded its second act a few months ago with an explosive finish that saw Bruce Wayne essentially destroy the legacy of Batman to stop Azrael and expose his identity, going to prison. That left Gotham in the hands of the people who helped him—including a reformed Harley Quinn, who said goodbye to Jack Napier and retired to raise her twins. A flashback indicates that Harley actually knew Jack before he was ever Joker, when he was a petty criminal. I personally can’t say I’m a fan of knowing exactly who Joker is, but the creative team sells us on Jack’s charm. Now, Harley seems mostly stable—except for some odd murderous instincts when she steps on a toy soldier—and she’s hesitant to jeopardize that, even when a new serial killer in Gotham is targeting old film stars and Duke Thomas asks for her help to investigate it.
Series creator Sean Murphy is involved on the plot here, but he’s turned script duties over to his wife Katana Collins and art duties over to Black Science co-creator Matteo Scalera. Surprisingly, both do a good job of mimicking the style of the first two miniseries, to the point where on a first read you might not even notice that anything’s changed. After being encouraged by an imprisoned Bruce Wayne, Harley eventually does enter the fray and join the case with the help of a visiting FBI agent who personally requested her (I don’t trust him), and quickly identifies a key suspect in the case. This first issue is laid back but a little rushed in how quickly Harley gets back into the game, and the last scene feels forced. Still, this Harley has a vintage Dini/Timm-verse feel. She’s less crazy and violent than some versions, but prone to obsession and mood swings. I don’t think this first issue is quite as polished as the two minis before it, but fans of the universe will enjoy it.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.