In a somewhat shocking move, Harley Quinn is likely the most interesting character to come out of the Sean Murphy Batman series White Night. Based on where the story ended in the series, she’s also the main character to use going forward. This week, Katana Collins and Matteo Scalera are picking up where Murphy left off as Harley Quinn is a single mother with two young twins, Batman is in jail, and a new threat emerges in Gotham. Will she become the hero Gotham needs?
Considering White Knight was one of the top DC Comics read in April, many readers are going to enjoy newly revealed details in this Elseworlds tale. Set in an alternate universe, Murphy took some bold steps to advance the Batman story, like killing Commissioner Gordon and revealing Batman isn’t even a Wayne. This story reveals how Harley and Joker met. It’s another wrinkle in the universe that sets it apart from the mainline books and changes things just enough to make them seem new and interesting. I’m not sure fans will love the fact Harley is revealed to have been a stripper, but it’s certainly a bold choice!
This issue also carries forward familiar faces from the previous series while setting up an exciting new direction for Harley. Alone, but without the baggage of Batman and Joker by her side, this is the first time the series can truly focus on Harley and move her story forward. Admittedly she was sorely underused in White Knight, so it’s nice to see Collins explore the character and her psyche. There are some interesting wrinkles introduced that will likely build towards much louder moments for the character, which is exciting.
Aside from the scene pictured below, this first issue is mostly setup and decidedly lacks action. The cliffhanger suggests things may open up, but it’s a slower pace that hasn’t been the norm in the previous series.
As art goes, Scalera captures a similar vibe as Murphy which casts much of the scenes in low light with shadows at the corners. Even inside in the strip club scene, colorist Dave Stewart utilizes light pinks and dark shadows that create seedy darkness to the book. Much of the book involves characters standing around talking, but it’s never boring thanks to opportune cutaways and good movement in close-ups and mid-shots.
This isn’t new reader-friendly, though if you’re a Harley Quinn fan you’ll be all-in for this narrative. Knowing who Duke is, or the crazy idea of Batman being jailed and how he got there, is going to help exponentially to understand and enjoy this book. This issue does some work to catch us up on how we got here, though, and I suspect Harley Quinn fans are going to love it — especially after it opens up after this issue on its story arc.
Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn is a good first issue that Harley Quinn fans can’t miss. It’s a defining new story arc for Harley Quinn that feels all-new and untethered from the main continuity. It’s exciting to see a new take on the character, though this issue can’t escape the baggage of previous story arcs. That said, if you’ve enjoyed Sean Murphy’s Elseworlds Batman you’ll love this new direction.
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