Monday, 18 January 2016

Harley Quinn Vol 1: Hot In The City by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti

Harley Quinn Vol 1: Hot In The City by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti is the first collection of "New 52" Harley Quinn comics which, I believe, included a redesign of the character. I'm not as familiar with DC oeuvre as I am with Marvel, but my understanding is that Harley Quinn started out as a Batman villain and now gets to be the protagonist of her own stories. I'm sure I'm skipping a lot of details there. This particular book was recommended to me as a good place to start with regards to Harley Quinn.

Fresh from BATMAN: DEATH OF THE FAMILY and SUICIDE SQUAD, Harley Quinn returns to her first solo series in the New 52! The writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti (ALL STAR WESTERN) and Amanda Conner (BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE) unleashed Harley on an unsuspecting DC Universe, as she encounters various heroes and villains ... and leaves no one unscathed in her wake!

The best way I can think of to describe Harley Quinn is "Harley Quinn is your problematic fave." Or my problematic fave, at least. There is much about her basic character to raise an eyebrow at, starting with the fact that she is "crazy", skipping over the violence, and ending with her full-body bleach job.

In general this is a light-hearted comic. Harley Quinn's main aim in life, as far as I can see, is to have fun once the basic necessities are taken care of. This volume opens with her inheriting a building on Coney Island and needing to raise some money to maintain it. In pursuit of this she takes a job on a roller-derby team and as a therapist (which, as Dr Quinn, she is actually trained to do). She also gets involved with a large number of rescue pets and torturers (not simultaneously).

My favourite parts of this comic were those featuring Harley's best friend, Poison Ivy. Ivy has actual superpowers — unlike Harley — relating to plants and generally helps out with or is an accomplice to Harley's shenanigans. My other favourite aspect of this comic was the way in which Harley (and co) were not sexualised in the artwork. Harley has a tendency to wear skimpy clothes (see cover), but they are always her choice and she was not posed in any icky ways. Yay for the artists!

Ultimately, I think this Harley Quinn comic is designed to be entertaining so long as you don't think too hard about it. It is very violent, which might put some people off, and while it is "joke" violence, in a way, it is still pretty graphic. I plan to keep reading this series for the time being, and ignoring the part of my mind that points out all the problematic elements.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, DC Comics
Series: Vol 1 of "New 52" run of Harley Quinn, contains issues #0–8 of the ongoing series
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: non-Amazon online book shop

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