Harvey Dent said it best: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Writer/Artist Stjepan Sejic (Sunstone, Witchblade) crafts together an intelligent, well written, and profound origin for one of DC’s most iconic antiheroes, Harley Quinn. It’s a compelling story that adds heart, wits, and the right kind of depth to Harleen Quinzel. It’s truly a remarkable work with some breathtaking visuals that’s definitely worth checking out.
Harleen #1 is an illuminating take on Harleen Quinzel and her slow transition from a psychiatrist to the Joker’s partner in crime. The book looks to humanize the explorations of a villain. This trend is not really a surprise, as the upcoming Todd Philips film Joker looks to take the same approach. The book is narrated by Harley and starts with her trying to get grant funding to do research on the permanent deterioration of empathy in the mind, which she believes is what leads to someone becoming a sociopath.
It’s a decent story that puts the human condition under the microscope and asks, are we really good people? In a weird way, it reminded me of two things: first, an old episode of Tales From the Crypt called “Maniac at Large,” about a woman who’s running from something she ultimately becomes. Second, the movie The Artist, where we watch two lives entwined with one another in a way that’s evocative of the toxic romance of Harley and the Joker.
The Illustrations of Stjepan Sejic
The art is fresh, inspirational to look at and fits the plot perfectly. Sejic’s art style to me is a combination of Sean Murphy mixed with old school video games like King of Fighters. One of my favorite pages involves the Joker holding a gun to Harley’s face and in the background, we see Harley’s life decisions in tiny panels — it is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Besides that, Sejic really captures the heart and soul of the character through each page.
Harleen #1 is definitely entertaining enough to make it worthy of picking up. The plot and dialogue are pretty solid. You will be mesmerized by the illustrations in this book so you’ve been warned. Do yourself a favor and add it to your collection.