Harley Quinn #0: A Bizarre Starting Point
I have to say, if you’re going to introduce a new ongoing series involving a character like Harley Quinn, then Harley Quinn #0 is the place to do it. Originally conceived by Paul Dini for Batman: The Animated Series as the “Girlfriend” of the Joker, Quinn has long since taken on a life of her own. She’s beloved by writers, artists, and especially cosplayers. After a few failed stints in team books, finally Lady Quinn is getting her own title. Issue #0 is not the start of the actual story arc – as I said, this issue is a bizarre starting point.
Essentially, comics latest dynamic duo of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmotti script twenty two pages of Harley wandering from one scene to another while a multitude of artists bring her to life. The original cover, handled Conner and Paul Mounts, gives us a sexy Harley Quinn, outfitted in small and tight Roller Derby outfit. The opening pages, penciled by Conner, show Harley in a candy store, being drawn into the world of her new comic series by the narrative voices of Conner and Palmotti. From there, each page is a new incarnation of the punk rock siren.
Becky Cloonan steps up first, casting Harley as the singer of band. Next is Tony S. Daniel, who makes Quinn a Godzilla-sized fembot, followed by Stefane’s 'Harley On The High Seas' adventure. Old school veteran Dan Panosian brings Harley to an office setting, while icon Walt Simonson has her as a badass ninja. Jim Lee & Scott Williams are next, casting Harley against Batman. The Joker’s main squeeze then jumps to Bruce Timm, who gives her the old school animated series vibe. Charlie Adlard of Walking Dead fame puts Harley in a teen angst setting – one that’s in color.
Following on those footsteps is Adam Hughes, then Art Baltazar’s kid-friendly style. Tradd Moore sticks Harley into a scene from Thelma & Louise, while Dave Johnson gives her the noir Hollywood treatment. Former Suicide Squad artist Jeremy Roberts gets his shot, followed by beautiful work from Sam Kieth and Darwyn Cooke. Conner and Palmotti, who set up the actual story arc Harley Quinn will follow, round out Harley Quinn #0. While nothing here makes sense, issue #0 is a blast to read and glorious to look at.
The best work for me comes from Becky Cloonan, Walt Simonson, Dan Panosian, Sam Keith and Darwyn Cooke. Everything here is solid, but those are the sections that leapt off the page and into my brain. I give full kudos to Conner & Palmotti’s script and the shots they take at DC. Whether about Jim Lee’s prices, Adam Hughes' inability to make a schedule, the sexism at DC, or the self-deprecating ribs about the low sales of Palmiotti's All-Star Western and Batwing, they hit the nail on the head.
I know the Harley Quinn book won’t be this odd, but issue #0 has hooked me into reading what comes next.
(3 Script, 5 Art)