Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Charles Adlard, Art Baltazar, Becky Cloonan, Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Tony S. Daniel, Sam Kieth, Bruce Timm, Jim Lee, Stephane Roux, Tradd Moore, Chad Hardin, Adam Hughes, Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian, Jeremy Roberts, Walter Simonson
Publisher: DC Comics?
Release Date: November 20, 2013
“How cool would it be to have my own comic book?” Harley Quinn muses in the opening pages of Harley Quinn #0, the inaugural issue of her brand-new solo series. Her query is instantly answered by the disembodied voices — visualized by blue and green-rimmed text boxes— of issue writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (or, as Harley puts it, “one of the guys that does cowboy stuff and the chick that draws girls with big [thankful interruption here]—”). The next 20 pages, which feature 17 different artists offering up their interpretation of the character, are spent not so much breaking the fourth wall as slamming through it with a comically oversized sledgehammer before making a gargantuan bonfire with the busted pieces.
Although certain moments will play a bit too “inside baseball” for the casual fan, Harley Quinn #0 is a cornucopia of riches for any comic book nerd in the know, highlighting the best of what today’s great artists bring to the table while parodying their frustrating quirks. All manner of styles are here — from the ragged, yet cool, Harley-as-rock-star concept by Fabulous Killjoys artist Becky Cloonan to the sleek Tony S. Daniel contribution that positions Harley as a giant Godzilla-sized terror, to the child-friendly illustrations of Art Baltazar that drops a horrified Harley in the middle of a chipper Teen Titans gathering.
Fans of Batman: The Animated Series, the ‘90s show from which Harley was birthed, will get a kick out of Bruce Timm’s section, which depicts Harley in her original costume design while still sneaking in a bit of adults-only material.
What’s more, the artists are not afraid to address frequent criticisms of their work via Harley’s meta-commentary. For instance, Walt Simonson draws Harley as a stylized samurai-esque warrior only to leave the panel background completely blank. Likewise, Jim Lee’s segment at first looks to be a perfectly normal fight with Batman, until Harley points out that the images shown are merely “reprints” that have been digitally altered. Other artists come and go with Harley asking, “I love the way this guy makes me look but can he keep a monthly schedule?” Even co-writer Palmiotti, takes a good-natured jab at himself with Harley commenting about the less-than-stellar sales of All-Star Western and Batwing.
The one downside to this near-pornographic level of self-referential humor is that one really can’t get a grasp on what a typical issue of Harley Quinn will be like. Yet, if the purpose of the issue was to demonstrate that Palmiotti and Conner have a proper understanding of the crazed sense of humor associated with the character, then it’s an unqualified success. Moreover, the book’s final look, courtesy of main series Chad Hardin, has a modern grittiness to it. And surely, what better way to introduce a Harley Quinn solo series than with an issue that’s as loopy and fun as the lady herself?