Review – Future State: Harley Quinn #1 – The Laughing Detective

Comic Books DC This Week
Future State: Harley Quinn #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Future State: Harley Quinn #1 – Stephanie Phillips, Writer; Simone Dimeo, Artist; Tamra Bonvillain, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: The world is upside down in Future State’s Gotham titles, and nowhere is that more evident than in Harley’s spotlight. Stephanie Phillips, the new regular writer on the character, gets the chance to set her tone for the character, and I think she does a great job of distinguishing herself from the past creative teams. Her Harley is chaotic and mixes a sense of heroism with a taste for ultraviolence, yes—but she’s also brilliant. This is one of the best uses of Harley’s background as a psychiatrist I’ve seen in a while. The story opens with her being captured by the Magistrate’s officers and taken to prison, where she’s given an opportunity to get out by a fellow ex-villain—Jonathan Crane, now serving as the Magistrate’s officer and claiming to be cured of his own psychosis. He can give Harley a position and a much more comfortable captivity—if she helps him track down their fellow Gotham rogues.

Harley gone wild. Via DC Comics.

The good news is, Harley may be the most well-equipped person for the job, because she can analyze a criminal like no one else. The first two targets on her list are Professor Pyg and Firefly, and it’s really compelling watching how she gets under their skin and figures out the perfect way to lure them out of hiding and into captivity. But this isn’t a dark and gritty take on the character, like the Black Label series Criminal Sanity. There’s fewer hijinks, but Harley and Crane are constantly snarking at each other and they have a fun dynamic that feels a little like a crime procedural about the straight-laced cop and the offbeat cop—only both of them are a little off. The ending leads into the return of Black Mask as the next target, and the character’s debut scene at the end of the issue is genuinely chilling. I don’t know what Phillips’ take on Harley would be in the main series, but this is a compelling start with a great underused angle.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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