Harley's got a new home at Coney Island to get to, so she's packed up all her belongings on a motorcycle, and has sped off to New York with the stuffed beaver that talks to her in her head... Yep. On her way into the city, Harely liberates a poor wiener dog from his hipster owner, and ends up getting attacked by an assassin out to kill her. Doesn't go well for the assassin, because Harley takes her hammer and sends his head flying into the river.
Harley rolls up to her new home, quite delighted at the site of the building. Outside, she meets
The next morning Danz-I MEAN BIG TONY, meets Harley outside with some Brooklyn hospitality, coffee, a bagel, and the wanted section of the newspaper, meanwhile, because Harley won't sit still, a would be sniper misses their chance at offing her.
So Harley goes on the hunt for a job, putting on makeup and a wig to make her look normal at an interview for a therapist position... which will probably go well, and then later that night, she finds herself a weekend job when it becomes clear that she's a natural fit for roller derby.
Later, Harley is relaxing on the roof of her new home, talking finacials with her stuffed beaver, when the failed sniper from earlier tries to sneak up on her with a katana. Luckily, Big "I'm not Glenn Danzig" Tony, shows up, and is packing heat, saving Harley's life. Shocked that it was the second attempt on her life in the last couple of days, Harley searches the corpse to find a wanted poser, meaning someone has put a hit out on Harley's head.
Okay, this may be over the heads of a lot of readers, but Big Tony is fucking great. I'm a big Misfits, Samhain and Danzig fan, so Big Tony's likeness is just funny. But niche references aside, man this book is fun! Like The Palmiotti, Gray and Conner Power Girl or maybe more recently, Stephanie Brown's time as Batgirl, this book fills a much needed gap in DC's line of seemingly endless dark, super serious titles. Not to say that this serious titles are all bad, or you can't take some enjoyment out of a grim character (I mean... look at this site), but whenever something like this book comes around, and it's done well, it's like a breath of fresh air.
All that said, there's one element that makes Harley stand out from Power Girl or Stephanie Brown... and that's the fact she's fucking crazy. Let's not forget Harley is talking to a stuffed beaver and decapitates a dude with a blunt object, which Stephanie Brown definitely didn't do. There's a dark sense of humor surrounding this book, that really works well and makes it stand out that much more.
Finally, Chad Hardin's art was gorgeous. I've said it before, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect when he was selected as the artist, but Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner said he nailed it, so I was optimistic. That optimism paid off quite well, because Hardin's art is fun, dynamic and a little manic all at the same time. What I enjoyed most was the fact that Hardin really had Harley emote well. Too often comic artists fall short in having their characters convey more than three sets of emotions on their face, but not Hardin. From pure maniacal glee, to "I just watched that Sara McLachlan ASPCA commercials" sadness, Hardin conveys all those emotions perfectly on Harley's face. This is something I think Amanda Conner does particularly well when she illustrates something, so with her not drawing the title, I'm really glad they got someone who could do that almost, if not equally as well.
Not sure if I dig Harley being that crazy to the point where she talks to a stuffed beaver, but oh well. Also, she uses her real name in that interview for a therapist position, and one would think that might be a red flag on a background check or something, but let's not take that too seriously.
The Bottom Line:
This title launched with a great gimmick in the #0 issue, but it was easy to wonder where the series would go without all the A-list artists and Harley talking directly to her writers. Wonder no more, as with this first issue, it's safe to say that Harley Quinn is set to become one of DC's funnest series in years. If perhaps you felt alienated by how Harley was handled in the New 52 in books like Suicide Squad, you'd probably enjoy the hell out of this title, as it's a major return to form for Harley, who is goofy, lovable and just the right amount of crazy. Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Chad Hardin are definitely on to something here.