Thoughts on Harley Quinn #1 – “Die Laughing Part 1: Afterbirth!”

Harley Quinn #1

Joker’s number one lady is back in her relaunched series in Harley Quinn #1.

This review is a repost from my old website.

Harley Quinn #1

Harley Quinn #1 Cover“Die Laughing Part 1: Afterbirth!”
Writers: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Chad Hardin
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Cover Price: $2.99
Story Pages: 20

Release Date: August 3, 2016

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Collected in: Harley Quinn v1: Die Laughing

“Die Laughing” part one! Welcome back to Harley Quinn’s crazy world on Coney Island…now get ready to wave goodbye, because everyone there just might get eaten alive! Harley’s gotta protect her neighborhood against an all-out zombie apocalypse! Break out the chainsaws, everybody!

It has been a big week for Harley Quinn since she has made her live action, big-screen debut in Suicide Squad (played by Margot Robbie).  In addition to that she is appearing in Suicide Squad Rebirth #1, and her own series is being relaunched.  Although Harley Quinn #1 is technically the beginning of a new title this really is just a straight continuation of her previous series, and as such is not quite as new-reader friendly as it could be.  Still, DC wants to capitalize as much as possible on their new movie, and Rebirth is a great excuse to hype up one of their premiere characters.

Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti make the most of the situation to treat this issue as a proper introduction to our protagonist and her army of secondary characters.  Since Harley Quinn first launched a few years back her supporting cast has ballooned rapidly, and mostly with new characters rather than existing, familiar icons.  There is a lot to absorb here, and I am not convinced that it necessarily pulls off everything it needs to, but at least it gets basic character introductions out of the way.  Whether or not every single character needed an introduction is a different matter entirely.

After introductions are out of the way the main plot begins, which revolves around zombies.  Their origin in this case comes from an alien who lands on Earth and mistakes cows as the dominant life form.  He follows them into a meat processing plant and becomes sausage, which turns people into zombies after they eat him.  Once they establish that the issue turns into a running fight so Harley and her crew can try to escape.  As you might expect there is blood, action and people (mostly Harley) doing stupid things.

For me Harley Quinn #1 is a mixed bag, but one that I think will result in better payoffs down the road.  The transition from introducing the whole supporting cast to focusing on just a select few is necessary, but jarring.  Why even introduce the other character if they aren’t going to do anything this issue?  I think the intro sequence could have been better spent giving us more background on the characters we actually need to know about — mostly Red Tool, whom I have never heard of —  instead of characters who aren’t currently important.

Who is Red Tool (other than being an obvious parody of Marvel’s Deadpool)?  Why is he obsessed (stalkerishly so) with Harley?  I couldn’t tell you from this issue alone.  Also, some more information about her apparent sidekick, Tony, would be useful.  I am certain that people who have read the previous volume of Harley Quinn will already know these answers, but the point of a relaunch is to bring in new readers who won’t know these things.

The issue of Harley’s supporting cast’s status aside the rest of the issue is fairly solid, although a bit light on the laughs.  I particularly liked the opening with Harley and Poison Ivy parting ways for the time being.  They make a great pseudo-couple and I hope Ivy’s departure from the title is short-lived.  As mentioned above the actual fighting/running sequence with the zombies is quite good, and it has a few chuckle-moments in it between Harley and Red Tool.  I never truly laughed out loud at the issue, but there is enough to keep it going.  I am expecting it to step up its game with issue two now that the necessities are out of the way.

All things considered Harley Quinn #1 is a successful first issue, but with its fair share of flaws.  I think people who come home from watching Suicide Squad will find enough to like with this to push forward with future issues, and maybe they’ll even be convinced to check out some of the trades of the previous Harley series.  Either way, if you are curious about Harley Quinn you could do worse than starting here.

Harley Quinn #1

$2.99
Harley Quinn #1
80

Final Score

8/10

    Pros

    • The jokes are solid
    • The Ivy/Harley relationship is cute

    Cons

    • Not a good transition from previous title to this one
    • Overwhelming number of supporting characters