As a newbie to comic books, my knowledge of Harley Quinn stems from her appearances in pop culture and video games. I know Harley as the delightfully insane companion to the Joker with her own sense of sick, twisted humor. I see her on t-shirts, posters, and fanart. Nerds talk about her all the time, and she’s a big focus on all the upcoming Suicide Squad trailers. Even the non-comic fan knows of her unique character. This basic understanding of Harley’s complex personality worked in my favor when I picked this issue up.
There are two covers available: one that reflects actual reality, and one that reflects the reality which Harley has created in her own mind (you spend equal time in both).
So begins her story…
We find Harley in her apartment, feeling bored and beaten up over being a super-villain, when a knock on the door offers her a new outlook on life. She realizes her new direction is to become a psychiatrist to the super-villains. Immediately she gets to work with her first unwilling patient, The Man-Bat. Things don’t quite go as planned and Harley is rendered unconscious, but not before a mysterious figure rescues her from incarceration. This is when the artwork shifts to a child-like art style to emphasize that this is all going on in her mind. She wakes up in a quaint psychiatrist’s office where she begins to see super-villains ranging from Killer Moth to The Toymaker. However, like every professional super-villain, she gets bored doing the right thing and goes back to her insane ways. The final twist creates a set up for the Suicide Squad in film and future comics.
The disproportionate items confined within each panel (no out-of-panel drawings here) frame just how wild, yet constricting Harley’s story is. The artists, split between panels 1 – 10, 11-20, and 21-30, split Harley’s world between reality (drawn by Jim Lee) and her mind (drawn by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway). By having her mind drawn in childish themes, the comic emphasizes her insanity without saying a word. The large items and big heads make her imagination almost seem cute. However, the writer, Rob Williams, interjects reminders that what she’s doing isn’t cute, but psychotic. Then, to help drive the point, the artwork changes and we’re back to the same insane world that the story started in.
The overall joke is the irony of a super-villain psychiatrist treating other super-villains with the hope of curing them. No matter how hard Harley tries, she can’t be anything other than bad. The Joker knows this (with his brief appearance), the audience knows it, and Harley eventually knows it. However, it’s still fun to play along with the idea, especially since it’s an April Fool’s Special.
I give this issue 4 out of 5 giant hammers.