Harley Quinn #1 – Afterbirth is enjoyable kickoff to new series

Afterbirth is a winning new storyline for Harley Quinn

Positioned as Suicide Squad’s breakout character — with a solo movie in the works — Harley Quinn will be a household name. Beyond just the scores of Batman comic book and TV fans. For her Rebirth kickoff storyline Afterbirth, Harley finds herself in a crazily entertaining predicament.

Harley Quinn issue 1 Afterbirth page 3

Like Wolverine, Deadpool, Lobo and other mega-popular characters, you don’t have to necessarily read her solo comic to get a dose of Harley. The big challenge for writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti is convincing readers that their take is worth the monthly investment. Afterbirth is a promising start.

Another challenge is the Harley featured in her solo title is very different from the version in other books. Those titles portray her more like the movie incarnation, which might be more appealing to newcomers from the film.

The first half of the issue is overwhelming. Harley hangs with her BFF Poison Ivy for a day at the spa before introducing her title’s cast. This mostly sane take on Harley is initially jarring, but it makes sense in the big picture.

Harley doesn’t need to be the comic relief in her own title. Connor and Palmiotti dial her zaniness down while allowing the plot to help fill the gaps. The threat Harley and her pals end up encountering is a fun take on an overdone pop culture trope. It was more than a little absurd, but was executed in such a fun manner it’s hard to complain.

Artist Chad Hardin’s work is fantastic and an ideal fit for the lighthearted take on Harley. There’s a high-end cartoonish quality to Hardin’s style bolstered by Alex Sinclair’s bright color arrangements. Hardin stops short of making Harley and Ivy pin-ups, but he definitely draws attractive female characters.

DC is going to continue positioning Harley as a major player. While the verdict on the movie version is still out, the comic front remains thoroughly entertaining.

Rating: 8 out of 10