Series Title: (Harleen #1-3)
Author: Stjepan Šejić
Publication Date: February 11th 2020
Publisher: DC Black Label
Genre / Themes: Graphic Novel, Superhero, Mature
Dr. Harleen Quinzel has a theory: mental illness is a survival mechanism. As she seeks to help the broken souls of Gotham City piece together their sanity she will become the one thing she fears the most: one of them. A bold new retelling of the tragic origin of Harley Quinn told through the eyes of the only person who knows her better than anyone: Harleen.
A young psychiatrist with a potential cure for the madness that haunts Gotham City, Dr. Harleen Quinzel must prove her revolutionary theory to a skeptical establishment by delving into the disturbed minds of Arkham Asylum’s deadliest inmates. But the more time she spends with her criminally insane subjects, the closer she is drawn to one patient in particular–and the further she falls away from reality.The birth of legendary antihero Harley Quinn and the shocking origins of her twisted romance with the Joker are revealed in Harleen, a stunning new tale of love and obsession written and illustrated by renowned comics storyteller Stjepan Šejic (Aquaman: Underworld, Sunstone).
Collects Harleen #1-3
FIVE PERFECTLY DERANGED HARLEY STARS!
Ahhh. The toxic of toxic love affairs. The Joker-Harley romance.
For the longest time, that’s what I thought. I knew the Joker was a narcissistic psychopath who will do anything, use anyone, kill anyone, to get what he wants. He has zero empathy towards other people and has zero remorse for hurting people. But was he really just that? Was he really just this person we all knew he was?
WHAT WAS HARLEEN ABOUT?
This was about Harleen Quinzel, the psychiatrist. This wasn’t about the Harley Quinn we are all familiar with. This was about Harleen before her adventures with Mr. Jay. The story followed Harleen as she tried her very best to succeed in her chosen field, to be able to prove that she was more than her past and that she was more than just a pretty face.
She crossed paths with the Joker unexpectedly and that encounter was the catalyst of who she would eventually become.
WHAT WAS THE BEST THING ABOUT HARLEEN?
The best part about this was the fact that we are seeing two people, the Batman and the Joker, through the eyes of someone else. We normally see the Joker through Batman’s perspective, but we now caught a glimpse of him from another individual. For Batman, the Joker was a threat to society that needed to be put away but for Harleen, did she thought of the Joker the same way?
Since Harleen was the Joker’s psychiatrist, you do see some of their sessions and the questions of madness was raised during one of them. Could an extremely terrible experience push someone completely over the edge that they go totally crazy? Examples were shown to prove this point which again raises another question, can we blame these individuals for their actions or the environment they live in that made them into who they were?
This kind of reminds me of The Killing Joke, “All it takes is one bad day.”
WAS THERE ANYTHING IT COULD HAVE DONE BETTER?
None that I can think of. In fact, I wanted more.
WHAT WERE THE OTHER THINGS TO NOTE HERE?
- It humanizes the Joker in a way. He was still a deranged soul, don’t get me wrong, but in a way, he didn’t seem completely like that. I got to see something else I don’t think I’ve ever seen from him yet. I think there was a point here where he was had been his genuine self. I liked seeing that.
- The art work is gorgeous! I mean just look at that!
- The story wasn’t too long or too short. There wasn’t a lot of fluff on here which was great.
- This iteration of the Joker was quite charming, I absolutely dig it in a non-romantic way. It’s such a scary thing for someone to be completely charming and dangerous at the same time.
- I thought the story was able to flesh out Harley out. We were able to know who she was as a person, what her past was, what motivates her, what scares her. It was surprising to get so much out of the story for just 200 pages.
- The relationship between the Joker and Harley was done pretty well. For those who have read some of the Joker/Harley stories, you’d know that their relationship quite is a toxic one, something that no one should aspiring to have. Harleen, though, showed us a possibility that the Joker might actually be capable of really caring for someone. It was implied but it was never really confirmed throughout the story which was a nice touch to it.
WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS?
I liked how the story ended, but now I’m only wishing there’s more. I want to know more about the misadventures of these two misfit lovers who found love in a very hopeless Gotham City. It would be interesting to know how Harleen, now Harley Quinn at this point, moves forward from here. I want to know if her ideals back then, or what she was trying to accomplish, still the same thing as when she decided to join the Joker. I wish there were more volumes for us to read.