Maybe it’s the stylish way the Joker combs his hair. Maybe there’s something sexy about having a gun pointed in your face. Whatever the case, good girls always seem to fall for the bad guy, especially in comics and movies. That’s just one of many great points writer/artist Stjepan Sejic gets across in the latest issue of the DC Black Label series in Harleen #2. All this time Harley thought the monsters of Gotham were locked up in Arkham, but is she having regrets?
Book two of this three-part series finds Dr. Quinzel continuing her attempt to have a breakthrough with the clown prince of crime. She’s determined to prove whether or not he feels any type of remorse for a lot of his past transgressions. This would help further her research and hence prove that deterioration of empathy in the mind leads to someone becoming a sociopath. But what we bear witness to instead is her growing infatuation with the Joker mixed with Harley’s own impatience and frustrations.
Sejic finds a perfect balance of relevant current events like internal law enforcement battles with the monsters that exist inside and outside of an insane asylum. Since 1995’s Witchblade, Sejic has accumulated solid expertise with how to tell a captivating story through his magnificent illustrations and understanding of relationships between two individuals. The relationship Sejic develops between Harley and Joker captures the same great chemistry that made Clarice Stirling and Hannibal Lecter so great — minus the cannibalism, with a bigger focus on romance. One of the biggest takeaways from this issue is how Joker makes Harley realize that the monsters that exist within Gotham aren’t just the men and women locked up in a cell.
Harleen #2 is an intimate examination of how human beings sometimes bottle up their true personas and how a few steps in the wrong direction, like police striking out on their own terms against criminals, can release a person’s real behavior. The Joker sums it up best when he says, “Hands twitching while they dream of violence, shivering with barely suppressed rage, brimming with righteous indignation…Smiling politely as they imagine savage things.” From there, Sejic takes us on a brilliant journey of self-discovery where Harley starts to realize she’s falling in love with the Joker and losing her own humanity at the same time.
Harvey Dent, better known as Two-Face, joins this issue and his origins are exploited as well to further prove Joker’s point about the monsters within Gotham. Spoiler alert if you didn’t know already, but Harvey is brutally scarred on the left side of his face by crime boss Sal Maroni, proving Joker’s early point to Harley about people smiling politely as they imagine savage things. Sejic’s use of the people of Gotham is not only a great touch for the story he’s telling, but also a wake-up call for the real world as well. The writing for the second issue is very solid and well done to say the least.
Most of this issue emphasizes the growing anger inside of Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Complementing that rage beautifully is the topsy turvy edge that Sejic adds to just about every page of this book. From the spiraling staircase to the gorgeous panel of Harley taking a drink with Gotham’s top tier villains dancing over her every thought, Sejic makes sure that the art highlights Harley’s stress level and how she feels imprisoned in her own pursuit of sanity.
Harleen #2 is an entertaining head trip that prepares you for Harley’s complete transformation into Daddy’s Little Monster. The dialogue continues to be great and the art remains phenomenal. As this is a three-part series you can easily catch up if you haven’t read the first two issues. Be sure to add this gem to your list the next time you’re at the comic shop or download it today.
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