Harleen
Dr. Harleen Quinzel has a theory: mental illness is a survival mechanism. As she seeks to help the broken souls of Gotham City piece together their sanity she will become the one thing she fears the most: one of them. A bold new retelling of the tragic origin of Harley Quinn told through the eyes of the only person who knows her better than anyone: Harleen.A young psychiatrist with a potential cure for the madness that haunts Gotham City, Dr. Harleen Quinzel must prove her revolutionary theory to a skeptical establishment by delving into the disturbed minds of Arkham Asylum's deadliest inmates. But the more time she spends with her criminally insane subjects, the closer she is drawn to one patient in particular--and the further she falls away from reality.The birth of legendary antihero Harley Quinn and the shocking origins of her twisted romance with the Joker are revealed in Harleen, a stunning new tale of love and obsession written and illustrated by renowned comics storyteller Stjepan Šejic (Aquaman: Underworld, Sunstone).Collects Harleen #1-3

Harleen Details

TitleHarleen
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 11th, 2020
PublisherDC Black Label
ISBN-139781779501110
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Comics, Graphic Novels, Superheroes, Dc Comics, Batman, Graphic Novels Comics

Harleen Review

  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not a huge Harley Quinn fan. I like her well enough as a character, but I usually cringe when someone who doesn't read comics tells me that she's their favorite, because they're usually just some ding-dong who wants an excuse to wear booty shorts and pigtails as a Halloween costume.Nope, I picked this up because I saw the name Stjepan Šejić. His art is beyond phenomenal, so it wouldn't have mattered who the hell this was about, I would have immediately grabbed it. I knew this was going to I'm not a huge Harley Quinn fan. I like her well enough as a character, but I usually cringe when someone who doesn't read comics tells me that she's their favorite, because they're usually just some ding-dong who wants an excuse to wear booty shorts and pigtails as a Halloween costume.Nope, I picked this up because I saw the name Stjepan Šejić. His art is beyond phenomenal, so it wouldn't have mattered who the hell this was about, I would have immediately grabbed it. I knew this was going to be easy on the eyeballs, so the million-dollar question for me then became, could he write something that was worth a shit? And the short answer is a resounding YES.So the main problem I've always had with Harley is that she was an oversexualized idiot with zero powers, who shouldn't have been in the same room with characters like Wonder Woman, much less depicted as being able to hold her own with them. She had a mallet.A. Mallet. Getthefuckoutofherewiththat.I also didn't like the way she was becoming so popular with female fans (especially younger ones) while being depicted as a psychopath in a dangerously abusive relationship.I know that writers and producers have been actively working to fix that and I appreciate how she's now (mostly) an anti-hero who has made a clean break from Mistah J.I'm just saying that her previous persona bothered me. Well, if I'm being completely honest, it was also the fact that she was basically a less funny Deadpool. Slapstick humor + big tits isn't really something that has me rolling with laughter. Not judging. To each his own and all that...There's also the question of how someone like Dr. Harleen Qunizel finds someone like the Joker attractive to start with. I mean, Harley is an educated, attractive woman. The Joker is an incarcerated mental patient. I'm not saying it could never happen, I just needed a decent explanation of how it could happen. And Šejić does an admirable job doing just that.Instead of a skinny psycho with viridescent hair, & mime-skin, who sits around cackling at his own Dad Jokes, he's portrayed as a chisel-featured manipulator with a dark sense of humor. And Harley is an intelligent but isolated young woman who isn't quite as self-assured as she needs to be, caught in a cycle of night terrors, sleep deprivation, and alcohol. <--with a good bit of poor decision making thrown in for good measure.It was fascinating to me when I realized that I was getting sucked in the same way Harley did. I could see all the signs (he held a gun to her head, killed people, and is now in a fucking asylum for, god's sake!), and yet...he was legitimately charming. Who doesn't want to reform the bad boy? Wait. No. Stop. This guy is seriously dangerous.It was a weird head trip.You end up really liking her. And you end up understanding why she likes him. But what I really liked was that their relationship was never glorified. As the narrator of her own story, she realizes what her mistakes were and takes the reader along for a very interesting ride. And you're never quite sure whether he loves her in his own twisted way or whether he's using her for some reason. I'm fine with that. Abusers can love their victims - doesn't make what they do less horrible.I don't know if there's more to come, but if not, this is a fantastic self-contained origin story.Highly Recommended.
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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    I feel sorry for Harley but this book is fanfreakingtastic and the joker was hot 🤣😂And the art is amaze balls!! I recommend owning the hardback! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    Oh... OhHoly. Shit.Sorry, I try not to curse in much in reviews, but I really don't know how else to respond to this. Stjepan Sejic has created not only one of the best comics I've ever read set in the DC universe, but one of the best psychological takes on the characters. This won't be a review. I can't review this. I can only gush over it. Harleen is a retelling of Harley Quinn's origin story. It is printed under DC's Black Label line (essentially an R rated line that can use more Oh... Oh…Holy. Shit.Sorry, I try not to curse in much in reviews, but I really don't know how else to respond to this. Stjepan Sejic has created not only one of the best comics I've ever read set in the DC universe, but one of the best psychological takes on the characters. This won't be a review. I can't review this. I can only gush over it. Harleen is a retelling of Harley Quinn's origin story. It is printed under DC's Black Label line (essentially an R rated line that can use more traditional characters) and it... shows. This is not one to let the kids read. Not only is it quite violent in places, and with more than the... um... implication of the relationship between Joker and Harley, it is also a very darkly psychological piece. Many of the best storylines involving Harley Quinn are the ones that mix comedy with tragedy (after all, her name's sake, the original Harlequin can be interpreted as a tragic character in many of the stories he's featured in). She's a character who is in the definite toxic relationship in comic history, and the best stories with her point towards the tragedy that she's gotten herself into.Harleen does this wonderfully. The story itself is amazing, the artwork superb, and every single frame tells the story from multiple layers. Some of the symbolism is obvious, but even then it is told with an ironic sense of whimsy (the moment where the images makes parallel between the Joker's lies and the story of little red riding hood was both amusing and clever). Even the page layouts... they are all perfect. I don't use that word lightly. Seriously, look at this: While Harley is obviously the focus of this story, I would be remiss not to mention that Sejic does justice to all of Batman's Rogues Gallery that he can fit within his narrative. We get to spend a decent amount of time with them, after all, Dr. Quinzel did spend quite a bit of time with them before Joker fully got to her. If I have any complaints about the book at all, it's that I wish we could have seen them a bit more.It goes without saying that I highly recommend this one. It stands as easily one of my all time favorite comics now. All I will add is that the physical hardcover release is also a stunner. This is a story with layers, and as my first two pictures show, the dust jacket and the physical book itself present that very idea. While the book is chuckle worthy in some sections, Sejic never forgets that the story he is presenting is a tragedy, and behind every smile, there is another deeper emotion. 5/5 stars
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  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    I have not yet read any of Stjepan Šejić's Sunstone series, as none of the libraries in my system dared to put it on their shelves. What do I know about it? It's a F/F romance which begins with an assumption that two women can get together for a little BDSM play and just walk away (someone told me that "Sunstone" is the "safe word" they choose in their "play"). Sounds like fun, a little bit naughty? I just ordered the first volume, we'll see.So I picked up Šejić's Harleen, which is the title of I have not yet read any of Stjepan Šejić's Sunstone series, as none of the libraries in my system dared to put it on their shelves. What do I know about it? It's a F/F romance which begins with an assumption that two women can get together for a little BDSM play and just walk away (someone told me that "Sunstone" is the "safe word" they choose in their "play"). Sounds like fun, a little bit naughty? I just ordered the first volume, we'll see.So I picked up Šejić's Harleen, which is the title of a book about Dr. Harleen Quinn, a psychologist that posits that much mental illness is a survival mechanism, who is committed to healing all of the lost souls of Gotham. I won't write a long review here because I read the first two reviews of the book here by friends Gabrielle and Tim that were wonderful, so if you want to know more you should read them and then try to resist this book. Try, go ahead!So the skinny on this book is that this is a version of the origin story of Harley Quinn, how she went from sweet smart good girl to become Joker's lover for some time. Along the way she becomes Dr, Quinn, and in the process of her work the (gorgeous) Harleen runs into (equally gorgeous?!) Joker, whom she is determined to heal, but if you know Harley, you know that instead of healing him, he drives her to madness. But the process of getting to that madness takes us back to at least some intimations of Sunstone and the sweet yet increasingly dark relationship into which Joker draws her. Sunstone would seem to begin (a little?) darkly sexy and gets sweet; Harleen begins light and sweet and gets darker. The cover is beautifully scary, but there's a lot of romance along the way. This is SO good and so sexy and creepy and gorgeously illustrated that you have to at least see it. Stunning hardcover production, with each panel successfully seductive--can you imagine Joker and Harley as dreamy/hot?--and we get to find in the appendices about the five year process Šejić went through to produce this book, a journey into madness where we come to appreciate how it is Harleen might have become Harley, how she might have been seduced by this attractive and smart homicidal maniac. At mid-February, this is my favorite comic of the year for sure.
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  • Gabrielle
    January 1, 1970
    Happy Valentines Day, Puddin'!"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. On that road I saw a pale man... and he smiled at me."Thanks to Todd Philips Joker, my obsession with my beloved Mr. J has gotten seriously out of control in late 2019. I even started watching Gotham and fell head over heels for the Valeska twins (because two Jokers are better than one and I love me a ginger with a wicked grin!). So, needless to say, I was waiting for my copy of Harleen to be delivered with bathed Happy Valentines Day, Puddin'!"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. On that road I saw a pale man... and he smiled at me."Thanks to Todd Philips’ “Joker”, my obsession with my beloved Mr. J has gotten seriously out of control in late 2019. I even started watching “Gotham” and fell head over heels for the Valeska twins (because two Jokers are better than one… and I love me a ginger with a wicked grin!). So, needless to say, I was waiting for my copy of “Harleen” to be delivered with bathed breath. And let me tell you, this book does for Harley what Todd Philips did for Joker: it makes her human.Heavily inspired by the classic “Mad Love” origin story, Stjepan Šejic took the character of Harley Quinn (or rather, Dr. Harleen Quinzel) and re-imagined her slow descent into madness and criminality as seen through her own eyes. So in some ways, it is the old familiar story, but in other ways, it’s a brand new one. Šejic’s artwork is incredibly gorgeous and crisp - and it’s about time someone drew up a sexy Joker for the freaks like me who are out there! In their novelization (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan tried to flesh out Harley’s background to help the reader understand how an otherwise smart girl could have succumbed to the emotional manipulation the Joker inflicted on her – and they succeeded, but only up to a point. Šejic takes things a little further in “Harleen”; he makes it all several shades darker, a lot less cartoonish, and it’s perfect - in a heartbreaking sort of way.Dr. Quinzel’s approach to mental illness is unusual: she believes criminally insane people develop such behaviors as survival mechanisms – to the amusement of her colleagues and the medical community in general. There isn’t much room for compassion in psychiatry, apparently, but despite the establishment’s skepticism, she is given a grant from Wayne Enterprises and is permitted to study some of the “patients” incarcerated at Arkham Asylum. And sooner or later, that means speaking to the Joker, the notorious criminal who she had a traumatic experience with in the past. As he puts it himself, the Joker may be crazy, but he's not stupid, so when an emotionally isolated woman who genuinely wants to help him steps into his cross-hair, he "allows" her to help - though not quite the way she thought she'd be helping.Besides the classic tale of "girl falls for the wrong guy and can't get away", there's a lot of interesting elements in this comic, mainly the idea of people's dark side, staying just out of sight under a respectable face and demeanor. This is not new territory when it comes to Joker stories either; the famous "Killing Joke" (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) is all about that idea that it only takes one bad day to push a normal person into absolute lunacy, not to mention the idea that Batman isn't exactly sane either, but I enjoyed the way Šejic approached it.Very importantly, the abusive nature of the relationship between Harley and the Joker is never glamorized in "Harleen": if anything, its always very unsettling, as Harley is pushed into a desperate place where the only hand extended towards her belongs to someone who almost killed her… You see both the horror and the tragic inevitability of her fall. I joke a lot about having the hots for Jeremiah Valeska (and I do; I need help!), but making abusive dynamics like the Joker and Harley’s look romantic is a really, really bad idea – so I appreciate that Šejic made his Harley both aware of how wrong her situation is, while also showing that she feels powerless to escape it.This is my kind of graphic novel (and possibly the best Batman universe graphic novel I've ever read): nuanced, gritty, gorgeously illustrated, with a fun and challenging story about a flawed but very human character. Every fan of Harley and the Joker needs this on their shelf. All the stars and then some! More like this, please, Mr. Šejic!Also, the dust jacket makes the hardcover omnibus edition worth every penny: (https://www.instagram.com/p/B8dtloqgpcK/)
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  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not much of a fan of superheroes and supervillains to be honest. Yeah, I watched a few Batman and Superman movies as well as the entire Marvel run thus far but after a certain point, enough is enough for me. Especially since there are sooo many different origin stories out there and I prefer one per character.Anyway, this is another origin story, namely that of Harley Quinn aka Harlequin. She started out as a doctor, a therapist who wanted to help Gotham's worst criminals. She ended up being I'm not much of a fan of superheroes and supervillains to be honest. Yeah, I watched a few Batman and Superman movies as well as the entire Marvel run thus far but after a certain point, enough is enough for me. Especially since there are sooo many different origin stories out there and I prefer one per character.Anyway, this is another origin story, namely that of Harley Quinn aka Harlequin. She started out as a doctor, a therapist who wanted to help Gotham's worst criminals. She ended up being the Joker's girlfriend (of sorts). This is her own account of how she transitioned from one to the other.So yes, in a twisted way, this is a love story:In between, we get a very interesting look at both sides of the spectrum: the one saying that criminals of a certain caliber can't change / can't be rehabilitated and the one making a case for not locking them away forever but letting them back into a normal life even.Personally, I know which side of the coin my opinion falls but that is neither here nor there.Apart from the aforementioned love story, we also get to see some of Gotham's most notorious criminals and even the origin story of Two-Face:It's sexy and tragic and also profound. Mostly though? Look at that art! Yes, it was the reason I decided to read this after all despite all my reservations (that and the fact that it's a short comicbook). The colours, the details, the style ... it's all utterly gorgeous and that alone makes it worth reading this.
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  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    Such gorgeous art! I mean, seriously, I never would have expected something of this quality out of a Batman (sorry, Harley and Joker) comic. But its true. Not only the artwork is gorgeous, but it is easily the MOST gorgeous aspect of this graphic novel. The story is quite solid as well. Very solid. It happens to be a very realistic, psychologically sound, origin story of Harley. A quasi-love story.Well, actually, it IS rather romantic. It only ENDS in a murder. The rest of it is rather sweet and Such gorgeous art! I mean, seriously, I never would have expected something of this quality out of a Batman (sorry, Harley and Joker) comic. But it’s true. Not only the artwork is gorgeous, but it is easily the MOST gorgeous aspect of this graphic novel. The story is quite solid as well. Very solid. It happens to be a very realistic, psychologically sound, origin story of Harley. A quasi-love story.Well, actually, it IS rather romantic. It only ENDS in a murder. The rest of it is rather sweet and manipulative and it shows both of our protagonists in a very interesting light.I totally recommend it.But did anyone else see that Precinct was misspelled on the building?Ah, well, even the Mona Lisa has flaws.MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! GET ME OUT OF HERE!
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  • L. McCoy
    January 1, 1970
    Holy fuck! Yep, I actually ended up giving a Harley Quinn series a 5-star rating!Whats it about?Dr. Harleen Quinnzel has issues. The scientific community looks down on her, she has low self esteem and even PTSD after nearly being killed by Joker. She thinks things are getting better when she gets funding for some potentially ground breaking mental health research... but to do it she has to deal with her new patients at Arkham and that only makes things worse as she descends into madness.Why it Holy fuck! Yep, I actually ended up giving a Harley Quinn series a 5-star rating!What’s it about?Dr. Harleen Quinnzel has issues. The scientific community looks down on her, she has low self esteem and even PTSD after nearly being killed by Joker. She thinks things are getting better when she gets funding for some potentially ground breaking mental health research... but to do it she has to deal with her new patients at Arkham and that only makes things worse as she descends into madness.Why it gets 5 stars:This story is interesting. It’s Harley Quinn’s origin story done in a gritty way that goes inside the character’s mind with a few interesting changes too. It’s the kinda dark story the character deserves.The artwork is perfect! I know I just raved about how great Sejic’s art is a few weeks ago in my review for Sunstone Book One but...It is so damn good! It suits the tone perfectly and looks absolutely wonderful.The characters are great. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of our favorite Gotham characters are here (not just Harley and Joker) and the way they’re done here is different yet still true to the characters and I love that.This book is very intense throughout.There are a few moments in this book that are darkly humorous.The storytelling here is perfect. It makes the way readers see how the main character thinks work even better.I surprisingly sorta enjoyed the (arguable) romance element. While obviously not a healthy or even truly loving relationship it is an interesting part of the story that is done well here.There’s a slight horror element to this and it’s fantastic!The ending is great!Mixed thoughts:The predictability. Some of it is different, some of it is the same. It’s like (view spoiler)[ Sejic changed a few things up but we sorta get the same overall result. (hide spoiler)]Overall:Okay, I’m glad I didn’t give up on Black Label!Stjepan Sejic is to Harley Quinn who Todd Phillips is to Joker. Anyone who follows me knows that I mean that 100% as a compliment. This is a great psychological tale that puts readers in the mind of the character. It’s so different yet familiar at the same time. With a fantastic story, amazing artwork, a very intense tone with unique versions of our favorite Gotham City characters and more I gotta say I loved this! Between this and Sunstone you can 100% consider me a fan of Stjepan Sejic!Highly recommended!5/5
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  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "My storys the one where the girl dances with the devil, and he takes her with him on a long road to hell."Harley Quinn was always the character that interested me the most. Shes smart and knew exactly what she wanted but she was also this psychotic badass who didnt let anything stop her. Lets not forget about her two lovely side pieces. Harleen delves deeper into the life of Dr. Quinzel and how she became a Doctor at one of the most intense Asylums in Gotham. She had major plans to see what "My story’s the one where the girl dances with the devil, and he takes her with him on a long road to hell."Harley Quinn was always the character that interested me the most. She’s smart and knew exactly what she wanted but she was also this psychotic badass who didn’t let anything stop her. Let’s not forget about her two lovely side pieces. Harleen delves deeper into the life of Dr. Quinzel and how she became a Doctor at one of the most intense Asylums in Gotham. She had major plans to see what made those patients tick and how to save them from destroying themselves. That is until she meets the Joker and he changes her life. This graphic novel was amazing. The storyline was well pieced together with no gaps of tedious drivel. It held my interest all the way through. The art was spectacular. I was blown away by the beauty of it. Everything about this was astonishing and this is the best graphic novel I’ve read about Harley Quinn.
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  • Beth The Vampire
    January 1, 1970
    Recently, I have been interested in the psychology of the villain.With the release of the movie Joker, this topic has come to the forefront. Now, this character is a murderous psychopath, his motivations are often unknown, and he has so many backstories its hard to know which one may be real, if any. But the movie doesnt ask you to empathise with the Joker, but simply to understand him and watch his story unfold. What could create such a monster? Is it trauma, society, or something deeper? Recently, I have been interested in the psychology of the villain.With the release of the movie Joker, this topic has come to the forefront. Now, this character is a murderous psychopath, his motivations are often unknown, and he has so many backstories it’s hard to know which one may be real, if any. But the movie doesn’t ask you to empathise with the Joker, but simply to understand him and watch his story unfold. What could create such a ‘monster?’ Is it trauma, society, or something deeper? Something scarier; something inside us all.The same questions, to a lesser extent, were raised around Marvel’s supervillain, Thanos. Some people (and there is a thread on Reddit regarding this very topic) believed that he may have had the right idea to eliminate half of the population of the universe. He spoke of balance, and this would be indiscriminate, those left behind would survive and have the means to. Even Captain America noticed the whales in the seas and the cleaner water since ‘the snap,’ although he could never really believe it was the right thing to do. But why do some of us associate more with Thanos?Why do some people have Joker tattoos, and that’s seen as cool, when a Charles Manson tattoo is seen as grotesque? Is it the Joker’s style? His character? Does it have less impact because he is fictional?This bring us to Harleen Frances Quinzell. She was created originally (over 25 years ago) as a villain; the Joker’s girlfriend and sidekick. She has stolen, terrorised, murdered. Some would say she was under the Joker’s control, trapped inside a physically and emotionally violent relationship. Others would suggest she made her own choices. After her popularity soared, she was turned into more of an anti-hero. She fought beside Batman, even helped take down the Joker. She fights for the rights of animals, helps children and the downtrodden, and she is kind to her friends.Full disclaimer: I adore Harley. I have all the merch. And when I say all the merch, I mean ALL the merch. I have a portrait of Harley Quinn tattooed across half of my back. I’m counting down the days until Birds of Prey and hope to hell it’s better than Suicide Squad. Although the sequel to SS is shaping up to be wayyyyyy better (thank you James Gunn).This leads me (finally) to a review of Harleen, Book One of Three, which is essentially a re-telling of her origin story. And I loved it. The reader is granted a look into the psychology of the one-time criminal psychologist, knowing how she turns out, and being allowed to deep dive into how it all happened. The art is fantastic, some of the images, such as Harley walking into Arkham Asylum for the first time and her shadow a glimpse into her villainous future, are absolute perfection. The whole tone of the graphic novel’s colour sets the scene for what’s to come. The crimson voiceover from Harley of the future looks back on her past, and questions whether everything that happened was fate or choice.It is Harley’s story through her eyes; how she sees the Joker, the impact he has on her every waking and sleeping moment, how scared she is of him. Harley says herself it is a tale akin to Beauty and the Beast, but the girl is supposed to be able to change the beast, and the beast is supposed to love the girl. This is a much darker tale, and there is a lot further we have to fall down the rabbit hole.The psychology of the villain; it’s an interesting perspective. And one that is looking to give an extended life to an already compelling character who may or may not be okay to adore as much as I do. But I’ll do it anyway.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Messed. Up. Poor Harley. Poor, poor Harley. 5, violent and depressing, stars.
  • Chelsea 🏳️‍🌈
    January 1, 1970
    Hard to rate because Ive made it clear that I abhor Harley/Joker as a pairing. Its unhealthy, its definitely not #relationshipgoals and it was never good for Harley (mentally, self esteem wise, etc). That being said, I honestly dont believe this book is exalting the relationship at all. In fact, it makes it very very clear that the Joker manipulated her and, however quickly she fell into his trap, she wants to escape it. The art is absolutely gorgeous. Im always extremely appreciative of when Hard to rate because I’ve made it clear that I abhor Harley/Joker as a pairing. It’s unhealthy, it’s definitely not #relationshipgoals and it was never good for Harley (mentally, self esteem wise, etc). That being said, I honestly don’t believe this book is exalting the relationship at all. In fact, it makes it very very clear that the Joker manipulated her and, however quickly she fell into his trap, she wants to escape it. The art is absolutely gorgeous. I’m always extremely appreciative of when writers give focus to Harley’s past as a mental health professional (this book was honestly 90% focused on that). Ivy appears a few times, radiant and wise as ever. (Did they ever give the go ahead for Seijic to do a Harley/Ivy series? Because I need that in my life). Bruce appears a few times and I actually liked his appearances. This wasn’t so much about the fundamental question: can criminals truly be rehabilitated? It’s a question that has been asked since the beginning of time and often explored in various and entertaining ways in DC comics. Gotham and Arkham have made the psych nerd in me cringe with violations of human rights and complete disregard for mental illnesses. It’s been said that Batman finds beatings to be the easiest way of dealing with the mentally ill. There have been conflicting versions of him in different comics: the one (as evidenced here) that sincerely cares about finding them treatment and the one that doesn’t care and just wants them to suffer. It’s a great way to show Harley’s good intentions that she begins this journey trying to prove here is hope for a cure. And an interesting twist that the best test subject (the Joker) is the reason that research will probably never be finished. So, it’s a tough recommend. If you’re like me and you hate seeing things that show the “lovey dovey” bits between Harley and the Joker, stay far away. But if you’d like a well told version of the story that’s beautifully drawn and certainly never glorifies that relationship, this is definitely for you.
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  • Quentin Wallace
    January 1, 1970
    This surpassed all of my expectations and is by far the best series of the DC Black Label imprint up to this point. This did for Harley Quinn what the Joker movie did for the Joker, which is basically give us a definitive origin story. Of course the movie isn't really "in continuity", and I'm not sure where this stands in DC continuity either, but to me this was the definitive origin.We see Harley Quinn when she first goes to Arkham Asylum in an attempt to "save" the psychotic criminals there, This surpassed all of my expectations and is by far the best series of the DC Black Label imprint up to this point. This did for Harley Quinn what the Joker movie did for the Joker, which is basically give us a definitive origin story. Of course the movie isn't really "in continuity", and I'm not sure where this stands in DC continuity either, but to me this was the definitive origin.We see Harley Quinn when she first goes to Arkham Asylum in an attempt to "save" the psychotic criminals there, and in the process meets the Joker and the rest is history. I thought the art made the Joker look a little too pretty, but I think the idea is we were seeing him as Harley sees him which is more a romantic harlequin than a killer clown.Harvey Dent also has a somewhat reworked origin in this story as well, and really, it was perfect. Another hidden gem in the story I wasn't expecting.If you are a fan of Harley Quinn or the Joker, I can't recommend this highly enough. I was a little disappointed with Black Label until now, but if they can come anywhere close to this quality in the future I'll be reading the entire line.
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  • Kara
    January 1, 1970
    An AMAZING version of Harley Quinn's origin. The text and the illustrations are both top notch, and, better yet, compliment each other wonderfully. There are a lot of pictures of two different faces split and placed side by side to show two different emotions to the same event while there is lots of talk about the divide between sanity and insanity - mostly while Joker and his earnest doctor are on two sides of a piece of bullet proof glass. And Two-Face's origin is mixed in as well, for even An AMAZING version of Harley Quinn's origin. The text and the illustrations are both top notch, and, better yet, compliment each other wonderfully. There are a lot of pictures of two different faces split and placed side by side to show two different emotions to the same event while there is lots of talk about the divide between sanity and insanity - mostly while Joker and his earnest doctor are on two sides of a piece of bullet proof glass. And Two-Face's origin is mixed in as well, for even more themes on duality.The Joker may talk a lot about One Bad Day, but Harley shows how it is a very long path downwards (good intentions and the road to hell are mentioned a few times) and that path is made up of many bad days filled with insomnia, nightmares, alcohol, violence raging all around, and too many people giving up rather than trying harder.But the best part of the story was how Šejić acknowledges Harley is a grown women with a healthy sexual appetite - but does not turn her into a sexualized creature who is just there to twerk for the male gaze. Her clothes are practical, professional, appropriate for the given situation, and when we get to full insanity, he sticks to the traditional body stocking, and none of the thong and tight crop top outfits so many others have stuffed her into, regardless if that makes sense for the weather or event. Hands down, one of the best villain origin stories I've seen in a long time.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    "My story's the one where the girl dances with the devil, and he takes her with him on a long road to hell." I'm pretty sure Harleen is going to end up being one of my favorite books of 2020. Harley is my favorite character, and while I was excited for this book, I did wonder if there was more to add to her origin story. Stjepan Sejic does an amazing job at giving her character and story more layers than most writers do, and I really appreciated it. This is the book that Harley deserves. I loved "My story's the one where the girl dances with the devil, and he takes her with him on a long road to hell." I'm pretty sure Harleen is going to end up being one of my favorite books of 2020. Harley is my favorite character, and while I was excited for this book, I did wonder if there was more to add to her origin story. Stjepan Sejic does an amazing job at giving her character and story more layers than most writers do, and I really appreciated it. This is the book that Harley deserves. I loved the artwork, writing, and story. Making the Joker be attractive, charming, and (still) manipulative made much more sense with Harley's story. I thought the character was very well-done, and even though he had some updates for the story, he was still Joker. This is the best Harley origin I've read and I want more. I'm not sure if there will be more, but I really hope so. Harleen was much more emotional and thought-provoking than I expected, and I highly recommend checking it out.
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  • Billy Jepma
    January 1, 1970
    Woah.I wasnt sure what this mature origin story for Harley Quinn would look like, and was even less sure of its ability to deliver a compelling story that didnt glamorize the kind of violence and tragedy that (should) define it. But...against the odds, Stjepan Šejić really did something great here. Harleen doesnt *not* glamorize Harleys originŠejićs signature style is inherently sexybut it doesnt shy away from how twisted it is either. Even when Harleen illustrates the Jokers seductive Woah.I wasn’t sure what this “mature” origin story for Harley Quinn would look like, and was even less sure of its ability to deliver a compelling story that didn’t glamorize the kind of violence and tragedy that (should) define it. But...against the odds, Stjepan Šejić really did something great here. “Harleen” doesn’t *not* glamorize Harley’s origin—Šejić’s signature style is inherently “sexy”—but it doesn’t shy away from how twisted it is either. Even when “Harleen” illustrates the Joker’s seductive qualities, and Harley’s gradual willingness to entertain it, with obviously sexual overtones, it never lets you forget that what you’re seeing isn’t romantic—it’s terrifying. It paints a portrait of someone who is out of control and in desperate need of a lifeline, and then forces you to confront what could happen when the only person offering that lifeline is a monster. It’s unsettling and horribly effective.The characterization of the whole cast is great, necessarily so, and I loved how deliberately Šejić plotted out Harleen’s descent into becoming the violent Harley Quinn we’re used to. The plot has the air of inevitable tragedy to it, as it should, but Šejić writes each moment with Harleen in a way that simultaneously emphasizes her reluctance to succumb to the void opening up within her *and* her growing frustration at her inability to conquer that void on her own. It’s a methodical approach and it really sells her transformation as being something believable. Yes, falling in love with the Joker is a horrifying concept, but by the time the climax comes around, you can empathize with Harley’s decisions *just enough* to see why the story had to end that way.It also helps that Šejić’s art is nothing short of spectacular. His facial expressions are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and his layouts somehow manage to offer both stunning splash pages and claustrophobic tension in equal measures. There’s not a single image in these pages that isn’t flawless.Šejić’s script is strong, and the way he includes a riveting Two-Face origin story alongside Harley’s was an awesome surprise I didn’t expect. But it’s obviously his artwork that catapults “Harleen” into another level. Even when some of his dialogue or plotting falls a bit short, or feels just a bit too rushed (primarily in the final pages of the story), his art fills in the gaps and more than makes up for whatever minor issues I had.It would’ve been easy for me to dislike this, especially since the Joker/Harley dynamic is one fraught with easily problematic undertones. But Stjepan Šejić surprised me and delivered a fiercely compelling, painfully tragic narrative that turned an inevitable, often overdone story into something that felt remarkably fresh, nuanced, and haunting. This is absolutely a series I’m going to add to my bookshelf.
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  • Mindi
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, so this is something special. You can just feel it as the story goes on, and the illustrations become more and more stunning, and the story just continues to get better and better. This is the origin story that I have a feeling a lot of Harley fans have been waiting for. I know I have. And I'm now anxiously awaiting the next book to arrive. If you are a fan of Harley Quinn, you definitely need to read this one ASAP.
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  • Albert
    January 1, 1970
    Harleen by Stjepan Sejic is the latest in the line of Black Label comics from DC, following on the heels of Batman: Damned and Superman: Year One, and for the most part I have been underwhelmed by the Black Label line. But with Harleen they seemed to have upped their game quite a bit.Harleen Quinzell is trying to figure out what to do with her life when she has the thought that what she really likes to do, and seems to be quite good at it, is listen to her friends problems. So she embarks on Harleen by Stjepan Sejic is the latest in the line of Black Label comics from DC, following on the heels of Batman: Damned and Superman: Year One, and for the most part I have been underwhelmed by the Black Label line. But with Harleen they seemed to have upped their game quite a bit.Harleen Quinzell is trying to figure out what to do with her life when she has the thought that what she really likes to do, and seems to be quite good at it, is listen to her friends problems. So she embarks on studying to become a Psychiatrist specializing in the criminally insane. Though her reputation is tainted by a tryst with one of her professors, she none the less lands a grant from none other than Lucious Fox of Wayne Enterprises, to further her theories by studying the prisoners at Arkham Asylum. Thwarted by Harvey Dent, who feels that the criminals at Arkham are getting a free ride and need to be at Blackgate, Harleen none the less presses on. Until she meets the one criminal she has been obsessed with all along, the Joker.But what no one knows is this is not the first time the two have met. There was a night, during a failed robbery, that the Joker first met Harleen Quinzell and spared her life. Since that night she has not stopped dreaming of him. But were they dreams or nightmares? Now, alone with the clown, Harleen looks to prove the truth behind her theories. But is she really in control or is he?Granted, there is not really anything new in this book about the origin of Harley Quinn that hasn't been written before over the years, but the story and artwork are superb. More emphasis is placed on Harleen Quinzell, her hopes, her insecurities and her ambitions than what had been written before. The reader can follow along and see the progression of the character that leads her to becoming the blind and obsessed sidekick of the most insane criminal in Gotham.I have not really heard of Stjepan Sejic before this but if this is the story and artwork he can deliver, than this is a comic book writer to take note of.A good and fun read.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Love makes you do crazy thingsI haven't read a lot of recent DC comics, but after seeing teaser images released by Stjepan Šejić via social media I had to read it. The art is superb . The story is great. These are versions of Harley Quinn and The Joker that I'd love to see more of. Harley's origin feels right and the bevy of Gotham's Finest (including The Batman) who make appearances fit right into the story.Bravo to all concerned for making this happen. Very highly recommended.
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  • Ryan Stewart
    January 1, 1970
    OK, please give Stjepan Sejic more Black Label books.... like, yesterday. I love pretty much everything about this book. The art is absolutely incredible and the way Sejic is able to convey emotions and thoughts through facial expressions and body language is VERY hard to do in comics, and he just did it better than I think I've ever seen. The dialogue isn't perfect, but it's very good, and I appreciate how long this book takes to get where it's going; it feels more earned and believable by the OK, please give Stjepan Sejic more Black Label books.... like, yesterday. I love pretty much everything about this book. The art is absolutely incredible and the way Sejic is able to convey emotions and thoughts through facial expressions and body language is VERY hard to do in comics, and he just did it better than I think I've ever seen. The dialogue isn't perfect, but it's very good, and I appreciate how long this book takes to get where it's going; it feels more earned and believable by the end. You can almost see why Harley falls for "Mr. Jay." In an era of comics where dark multiverse gods throw planets at each other and the world is ending on every other page, it's a huge breath of fresh air to sit back and enjoy a thoughtful, slow-burn read that dives into the psychology and humanity of the characters. My favorite book of the year so far
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  • Heather V ~The Other Heather~
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, so I originally left a placeholder here (see below) for a longer review, but I realize now that, aside from shameless fangirling, I only had one major thing to add, which was this panel:Tell me that's not the most breathtaking thing you've seen today. Go on, I'll wait.HARLEEN is veritably stuffed full of panels and splashes like this one. Dr. Quinzel's shadow is used to excellent effect more than once, and there are countless other little details left all over the place for fans to sink Okay, so I originally left a placeholder here (see below) for a longer review, but I realize now that, aside from shameless fangirling, I only had one major thing to add, which was this panel:Tell me that's not the most breathtaking thing you've seen today. Go on, I'll wait.HARLEEN is veritably stuffed full of panels and splashes like this one. Dr. Quinzel's shadow is used to excellent effect more than once, and there are countless other little details left all over the place for fans to sink their teeth into. It makes the book into a rare bird indeed: one that will satisfy longtime Harley lovers like me, and one that can serve as a great way to introduce a newcomer to the character. Joker fans will enjoy seeing him from another perspective, too. Šejić - whose earlier SUNSTONE had my Ladies' Comic Book Club fanning ourselves when we read it a couple of years back - has truly done it all with this one, and I cannot wait until book two comes out. Outside of Brubaker/Phillips, I can't remember the last time I was this excited to see what a creator gives us next. Because, really......did I mention it's breathtaking?My earlier, truncated placeholder:More thorough review to come, but for now: this is a gorgeous, glorious book. Possibly my favourite introduction to one of my longtime favourite characters. Šejić has me hooked once again, and HARLEEN is most definitely the jewel in the crown of DC's Black Label.Related (because Šejić is awesome):
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  • TJ
    January 1, 1970
    This is basically a grittier, more realistic version of Mad Love. Its one of the best graphic novels Ive read lately, and even possibly my new favorite Batman comic. (Sorry, Dark Knight Returns and Killing Joke!) Harley was just such a real character, and her decent into her feelings for Joker was so believable. And... I never thought Id be on board for any sort of Joker/Harley relationship because its so abusive, but I found myself drawn to their chemistry in this book. It also fleshed out a This is basically a grittier, more realistic version of Mad Love. It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve read lately, and even possibly my new favorite Batman comic. (Sorry, Dark Knight Returns and Killing Joke!) Harley was just such a real character, and her decent into her feelings for Joker was so believable. And... I never thought I’d be on board for any sort of Joker/Harley relationship because it’s so abusive, but I found myself drawn to their chemistry in this book. It also fleshed out a version of Two-Face, which was a pleasant surprise; and Poison Ivy had a couple standout moments. And the art! This is some of the best art I’ve ever seen in comics; this book is a masterpiece. If you’re a fan of Batman villains and enjoyed the Dark Knight films’ more realistic take on their lore, check this book out. I found it incredible! 5/5 stars and a new favorite graphic novel.
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  • Taylor Madden
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing, amazing, and you guessed it....amazing!Between the beautiful writing and artwork, I had to force myself to space out my reading because I didnt want it to end. Quality-wise, Id say its toe-to-toe with Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass with its slightly different take on a classic origin story. As a huge Harley Quinn fan, I loved getting to spend more time with Harleen Quinzel, since we only get small peeps of her in the comic books.Reading through Harleens slow descent into madness was Amazing, amazing, and you guessed it....amazing!Between the beautiful writing and artwork, I had to force myself to space out my reading because I didn’t want it to end. Quality-wise, I’d say it’s toe-to-toe with Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass with its slightly different take on a classic origin story. As a huge Harley Quinn fan, I loved getting to spend more time with Harleen Quinzel, since we only get small peeps of her in the comic books.Reading through Harleen’s slow descent into madness was captivating and somewhat surprising, even though I was fully aware of the turn her life would take. This graphic novel helped me get to know the woman that preceded the chaotic, charming harlequin we all know and love — even making me root for her to go down the right path and complete her research, impossible as that may be. Harleen is truly a must-read, whether you’re a casual consumer of DC material or a die-hard fanatic like me!Rating: 5/5 stars
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    HOLY MOLY!!! Fantastic story and art! I happened to see this faced out at my local bookstore and came back a second time in a day because I was so intrigued. Stepan Sejic did the story and art and Im BLOWN AWAY by both! I will definitely be following his work! Definitely one to purchase! HOLY MOLY!!! Fantastic story and art! I happened to see this faced out at my local bookstore and came back a second time in a day because I was so intrigued. Stepan Sejic did the story and art and I’m BLOWN AWAY by both! I will definitely be following his work! Definitely one to purchase!
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  • Oneirosophos
    January 1, 1970
    That was...unbelievably bad!Stjepan Sejic is an epic artist, but this Telltaleverse-inspired origin of Harley Quinn is bad. Another bad entry in Black Label, avoid unless you want a painfull borefest full of endless badly written monologues...The only good part happens in the ending, where stuff finally happens and Stjepan draws wonderfully Ivy, but it is too late...
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  • CF Dracarys
    January 1, 1970
    This is by far my favorite take on the Joker and Harley Quinn and my favorite graphic novel. The psychology of it! The ART! ITS SO BEAUTIFULLY DONE. I need Margot Robbie to make a origin Harley Quinn story based off this. And I pray that Stjepan blesses me with me more issues of Harleen. FLAWLESS
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  • Malum
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent Harley Quinn origin story with mostly gorgeous art. It loses a star because I absolutely HATED how Joker was drawn. He looked like an underwear model or a Twilight movie reject.
  • Γιώργος Μπελαούρης
    January 1, 1970
    epic new introbeautiful art
  • Chris Greensmith
    January 1, 1970
    "It made a sad kind of sense that in the end, I gravitated to the one person who actually seemed to need me...the one person who maybe even liked me...the person who twice held my life in his hands. The first time he gave me nightmares...the second time...well, the second time he gave me some very different kinds of dreams..." A good little origin for Harley Quinn here, very enjoyable, this DC Black Label shiz is good...
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  • Mary Bronson
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was such a great take on the Harley Quinn story. I'm happy with the art style and just how the series is going to go. How Harley Quinn at first wanted to help the criminals and find out why some have no empathy. Also showing how Harleen first met The Joker and how he haunted her dreams for months. Can not wait for the next issue to come out.
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