HARLEEN #2 Review

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SYNOPSIS: Despite the strongest objections from every possible authority-including district attorney Harvey Dent-Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s found herself with free access to every inmate in Arkham Asylum, where she desperately pursues a revolutionary and highly controversial cure to the insanity of Gotham. But her work with the city’s super-criminals quickly muddies the waters of good and evil, and in the deepest, darkest padded rooms of Arkham, even the words of a mad clown start making sense!

Harley Quinn is an interesting character and has been receiving a lot of attention the past few years. Some could argue there’s a fear of overexposure. Don’t worry, you won’t find that in Stjepan Sejic’s Black Label book HARLEEN.

This is good stuff.

Last month’s issue kicked off with a quick backstory of the character, and how she was first introduced to The Joker. The issue planted many seeds and has taken its time in letting them flourish. Writer/artist Sejic continues this month, with more Joker, more Gotham, and more dreams.

What I am enjoying the most with this book is how it’s simply taking its time. We have a unique format to take a mature journey in seeing how Harleen becomes Harley, and it’s taking each step slowly. As the reader, we get to see how the Clown Prince is slowly manipulating her, causing her to drink more, struggle to sleep, and bend some rules (secretly) to go visit him after hours (but someone knows she was there). By the book’s end, we believe she’s crossed a line, even if she thinks she’s in charge.

A bonus from Sejic is also in the world-building. I was surprised to see as many characters last month as I did, and he delivers yet again. This time, we expand on District Attorney Harvey Dent, in a way I didn’t think would play as important a role here. It works, it’s true to the character, and I’m eager to see how many more of Gotham’s “monsters” have a true impact on Harleen’s transition into Harley.

RELATED: HARLEEN #1 Review by Ryan Lower

Of course, the art is the real standout here. Every panel is enlarged to fit this format, and it’s gorgeous. There’s a moody coloring to every page, enhancing both the light and dark elements of this story. While we follow the main character and her psychological journey, there’s a disturbing undertone that we can’t shake. Knowing where this book ends isn’t spoiling anything. It’s her trip there that’s getting more fascinating with every page.

Another chapter and another success for HARLEEN. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end up next issue, but I doubt everyone will be smiling about it. – Ryan Lower

GRADE: A

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Representing the Midwest, Ryan has been a BOF fan since 2003, and started contributing to the site in 2017. He is the host of “The Batman Book Club” podcast. Ryan has written reviews for comics, animated movies and TV series. He has also appeared on BOF podcasts and Social Hours for Batman discussions, reviews, and interviews. Thanks to BOF, he was able to meet and have a one-on-one discussion with his favorite artist, Lee Bermejo. Follow him on Twitter @lower_ryan.