Harley Quinn #0 is one of the nuttiest comics I’ve ever read. It’s a massive fourth-wall breaking extravaganza bulging at the seams with in-jokes and references, lobbed with effortless aplomb from writers Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti. Acting also as the disembodied narrators/characters of the tale, Connor and Palmiotti aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves or their employer as well, resulting in some panels that must have just squeaked by DC editorial. An astounding seventeen different artists are let loose on Harley Quinn, though given the direction of this inaugural issue, it’s more appropriate to say that Harley is the one being let loose, and the art changes at her every whim.
As a result, the narrative of Harley Quinn #0 is all over the place. Although this is a book about Harley “searching” for the artist to write her very own self-titled monthly comic series, the quips and jabs from Connor and Palmiotti are meant to have fun with the current indifference for the character in the comic-reading commonwealth. Harley’s revealing outfits–a disdain among purists of the Batman: The Animated Series TV show–are raked across the coals in several pages as is her over-sexualization, tied together in one fantastic send-up from artist Bruce Timm, that recreates a sequence from his “Mad Love” comic. Deep cuts are abound as Harley moves through artists like bullets in the clips of her machine guns, and not even Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and famed artist, is safe from the friendly fire spit out by Connor and Palmiotti. If there’s one criticism to lob at the manic structure of Harley Quinn #0, it’s that the issue is so off-the-wall that it doesn’t leave us with a clear direction for the series heading forward.
Of course, the “search” for the Harley Quinn artist was ruined a few months ago when DC announced that Chad Hardin would become the series’ regular artist and in fact, there’s an ill-placed promotion for Harley Quinn #1 just before the end of this issue where Harley makes her choice. Yet just looking at all these different artists give their one-page interpretation of a once-beloved character reminds us how fun Harley Quinn can be. Whether she’s complaining about the lack of blood in the cartoon landscape of her Art Baltazar page, or noticing a reprinted sequence as she tangles with Batman in Jim Lee’s contribution, Harley is energetic and bubbling with vivacity. It’s not entirely a return to the Harley that would rather scheme with her Mister J than shop at Hot Topic, but what Connor, Palmiotti, and their accompanying artists have done is made reading about Harley a real blast again.
GNN Comics Grade: MINT (9.5/10)