Suicide Squad’s bad girl reborn
released OUT NOW! Publisher dC Comics
Writers amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti Artist Chad Hardin
Riding Suicide Squad’s success wave (yes, it might have received bad reviews, but plenty of people saw that movie), issue one of Harley Quinn had an astonishing 400,000 advance orders before it hit shelves. So, what with DC recently giving Harley a risky Margot Robbiematching makeover, it’s lucky the comic is so good – its first three issues are arguably the best of the Rebirth rebrand.
The book’s got a tough job to do, as the comic version of Quinn is radically different to the movie take, and surprisingly complicated. In the New 52 universe, she lives in Coney Island with a large cast of weirdo friends, and has a (sweet) relationship with Poison Ivy. Surprisingly, despite the opportunity for a full reboot, Rebirth’s Harley keeps all of those elements, presenting an elaborate “previously on”-style explanation, before gradually moving into a new set-up.
The plot is typically wacky, with a cow-befriending alien accidentally (and hilariously) punishing the meat-eaters of Coney Island via zombies, and Harley having to turn hero to protect her friends. It’s not the most original high-concept we’ve ever wide-eyed chuckled at, but writers Conner and Palmiotti fit so many fantastic elements into that framework, we shouldn’t be too begrudging with praise.
Issue one is an exposition-heavy issue, but it’s done so smartly and with such a strong sense of fun that long-term fans won’t mind, and new readers will become instantly addicted. They’re rewarded with an action-packed second issue (containing a killer cliffhanger), and a super-satisfying third issue final chapter for the opening arc, making this the best complete story in the Rebirth universe so far.
Character work is strong. Despite 2016’s fairly radical visual makeover, Harley’s vivid/layered personality is untouched. She remains a bad girl with a huge heart and a funny-bone of steel; edgy, sweet and ridiculously entertaining. And one of the best elements of the New 52 take, Harley’s relationship with Poison Ivy, isn’t just retained for Rebirth, it’s improved upon, with these three issues containing series-high sweet moments.
Quinn’s (relatively new) love interest, Red Tool (yes, that’s a deliberate play on Deadpool) is also included, and he’s good fun, but if the DCEU are looking for someone to shove into Suicide Squad 2, we’d take this book’s version of Ivy any day of the week.
Funny, action-stuffed, with gorgeous art and beautiful character moments, this is an essential purchase – whether you liked Suicide Squad or not. Sam Ashurst
Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini was partly inspired by his friend Arlene Sorkin playing a jester in soap Days Of Our Lives.
The best story in the Rebirth universe so far
Must be noisy for the downstairs neighbours.