What kind of person falls madly in love with The Joker? And what does she do when the whole world gets turned upside down? Your Major Spoilers review of Convergence: Harley Quinn #1 awaits!
Previously in Convergence: Harley Quinn: Before coming to Arkham Asylum, Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a brilliant young psychologist and/or psychiatrist, depending on the story. After coming to Arkham Asylum, she was The Joker’s would-be paramour and mistress of slapstick, Harley Quinn. But what if she were to suddenly come to her senses? This is a tale set in Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City…
We open with Harley in the middle of a caper, robbing a museum of bejeweled skeletons with her pet hyenas, in her traditional multi-panel full tights harlequin outfit, triggering a nice burst of nostalgia. But, before she can abscond, the dome covers Gotham, and her special abilities suddenly cut out, leaving her flat on her back next to a police officer she just assaulted. Cut forward one year, and Harleen Quinzel is a mostly-sane, mostly-mundane woman, checking in with her therapist and shacking up with that injured cop. Much as I felt during Convergence: Justice League, it feels like we are being given a little bit of the characters we used to know and love before those characters are changed at their most basic levels into something else, which doesn’t really seem like it would please either new or old readers. When Telos, the guardian of the cities, drops the dome and announces that battle will now commence, the citizens of Gotham are stunned to find that Harley has been chosen as their champion, to battle classic funny animal Captain Carrot. Unsure and a little terrified of what that means, Poison Ivy and Catwoman rush out to find their old pal…
There’s a quiet undercurrent in this issue that I am a little bit uneasy with, as Harley’s manias and silliness are played straight as symptoms of mental illness, and when Ivy arrives to put her back in her villainess frame-of-mind, there are some serious unpleasant connotations in play. Mostly though, this is a straight-forward issue full of nothing but setup, with a theoretical expectation that the real story will take place next issue and in the main Convergence title. Artwise, Phil Winslade’s work feels somewhat inconsistent to me. Harley herself looks wonderful, especially a manic panel where she gleefully whispers that she’s not allowed caffeine while trying to steal a cup of coffee, but Catwoman is uniformly stiff and weird, and many of the incidental characters have strange and sketchy facial expressions. The last page reveal is very well-done, but Harley’s mad slasher smile is terrifying for reasons that don’t feel entirely intentional. I’m also troubled by the lack of background provided to tie these first week issues together, as I’m unsure if the three stories I’ve read so far are all in the same Gotham City or not, a flaw that makes the reading of the first-week Convergence titles more than a little bit frustrating.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FEELS A BIT INCOMPLETE
In short, this issue feels like it’s missing something, as though the DNA of the story isn’t quite complete. It is nice to see the Gotham City Sirens back together, if only briefly, and I found this to be a slightly more coherent read that either Convergence #1 or Convergence:Justice League #1, and there are charming bits of character to be had. All in all, Convergence: Harley Quinn #1 has too little plot for my tastes, but still manages to be a slightly-above-average issue even with its flaws, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. The idea of Harley Quinn fighting a literal cartoon animal is one that has me excited for what happens next, regardless of any problems I might have with this issue…[taq_review][signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]