Harley’s Crew | Book Club Wks 29 - 32 Harleen 1-3

Can’t wait to see what you thought @TheGirlWonder12! Welcome back, btw! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes::purple_heart:

Also, :raised_hands:

giphy

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Glad to be back with the crew! :harley_smilehqtas: :hearts:

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Book 2, just a genius series. Love the big things, and the little touches of detail.
The work/friend relationship between Harley and the guard. This is a small thing, but really fills out her world. He’s trying to look out for her, just hope he doesn’t pay a price for it in book 3.

This so reminded me of @darkstarz talking about this mirroring the romance comics. A sick twisted romance comic, but a romance comic.

Sometimes, foreshadowing is nice

Harley tragically falling into a trap of Joker’s making or her own?

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That is one of many scenes that reminded me of romance comics. They are all in the same vein but the vibe is definitely there. This even borrows from Sejic’s own Sunstone which is a slice of life/romance story in a mature setting but there are definitely hints of that here in Harleen, stuff like Mr. Jay saying he has a safe word among other scenes. While this is there, it also plays into the psychological aspect of Harleen and Mr. Jay’s relationship. It is obviously abusive, she recognizes it for what it is but the temptation is too good. I really think Sejic did a great job in the delicate balancing act in those regards.

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Book 3.
Normally, I wouldn’t take a series a book at time to talk about even one with 66 page counts, but there’s so much to unwrap here and I wanted to give my initial reactions after reading. This book may take its form from romance, but it is a full-blown Shakespearean tragedy. Our heroine sees her own demise in front of her, fully aware that her own actions are helping drive her to it. And, yet she not only cannot turn from that path, she seems to accelerate towards her end. The ending, in a way, attempts to absolve her of the ultimate guilt. But, that’s only because Bruce thinks he needs to take on the blame for others. And, as I type that I think Harley’s in an abusive relationship and I’m a $*#@ to place blame on her for it. Anyway.

Oh, Mr. Bronson we hardly knew ye. I saw your end coming, just not the agent of the ending. But it makes perfect sense, an event strong enough to snap Harley’s final hold on her sanity and restraint.

Nice parallel between Harley and Harvey. I like this version of Two-Face. He should be driven in someway by his past as a prosecutor.

Every once in a while in modern comics you have to marvel at the colorist.

These books showed more restraint with Ivy than I would have been able to muster. Just the very slightest touch of what’s to come. Also, like everyone in the book except Jim Gordon, holy smokes Ivy is hot.

A tangent coming next

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Refrigeration and Comic Books: So, Mr. Bronson’s primary function in Harleen is to die and to do so at Harley’s hand driving her further into Joker’s world. There’s nice touches before that as he tries to befriend and protect Harley in a nice non-creepy way. Seems like he’s actually a decent guy that doesn’t want to see Arkham destroy this young woman like it does everyone else. But really, he just needs to die. So, has he been refrigerated? Simone had a point, particularly in the story that gives this trope its name, but the fact is characters are introduced just so the can die for our hero/anti-hero and have been doing so since Patroclus had to die so Achilles could turn into a raving maniac and defeat Hector. What of the Waynes or Krypton? What matters, at least to me, is does the story work? Is this death worthy of the story? Has the character, even as minor as Mr. Bronson, been given enough depth and life that their death should impact our hero/anti-hero or is it just gratuitous gore to justify the hero’s revenge? Kyle’s girlfriend, seems the latter to me, Mr. Bronson the former.

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I just finished Book One and one thing keeps gnawing at me, What would have happened if she met Bruce Wayne about funding her project? Could he have been an overwhelming influence, negating the attraction of The Joker or was it destiny that drew them together? :thinking:

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This trilogy is an incredible origin story and right off the bat I’m going to say that I wish there was MORE. Right now I believe the plans for a continuation are canceled and/or in limbo, which makes me a sad panda.

Book One: My favorite thing about this is that it starts off with Harley’s narrative after she’s already figured out the Joker is irredeemable and a bad person. She’s absolutely self-aware, and looking back on past events to tell the story. That’s why it reads as a cautionary tale. We, the reader, already know how it ends. The story she’s telling is how it begins, and it looks a bit different from what we’ve seen before in other HQ origins!

Stjepan Šejić’s characterization of Dr. Quinzel is the most intelligent we’ve ever seen her. She earned her degree here. She has amazingly good intentions, she really wants to make a difference and help people. Compared to Paul Dini’s original characterization, where she slept with her professors to get her grades, Šejić uses that as an example of people misunderstanding and belittling Harley. One more hurdle she has to overcome before she’s recognized and validated as a psychiatrist.


I just love this visual. And I can imagine seeing this play out against the smoke as if it were a movie. Šejić’s illustration is very impressive to me. That night not only gave Harley her first connection with Joker, I think watching other citizens cheer at the bloodshed ultimately put her more on his side. She already feels isolated from her peers, the law is practically useless, and Gotham’s only effective authoritarian basically punishes people without any empathy.

Again subverting Paul Dini’s origin, when Harleen watches the tapes of Joker’s previous interviews she realizes that he’s changed every origin he tells them. Instead of her being taken by his lies, she witnesses “the real Joker” and that his madness philosophy is pretty close to her research hypothesis. Again drawing parallels and connections between them.

Not to mention she is constantly under extreme sleep deprivation, stress, abusing pills and alcohol at this point. Don’t try it yourself!

Along with Dr Strange, Harleen’s scientific colleagues, her peers, and District Attorney Harvey Dent, they’ve all been nay-sayers trying to shoot down her research, and by extension herself. We know that Harley greatly desires acceptance, affirmation, and love. Every slight (or outright hostility) against her makes her more resilient. There is no stopping her, and essentially she’s on a collision course. She’s blinded herself. But I love how this book sets up all the dominoes and shows you how they’re about to fall. Šejić’s Joker is certainly more “honest” in his outright admission that he delights in creative lies and theatricality. I like it.

More to come from books two and three, to be continued.

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Aaaand we’re back!

Book Two: Now we’re getting into that “Gotham is a character” phenomenon that others have mentioned and I completely believe. The city has its crucial personifications that we’re all greatly familiar with. It’s a crime-ridden, forever dark and foreboding place. Our hopeful characters (Batman, Harleen, Gordon) are relatively alone in the midst of overwhelming evidence that Gotham can’t be saved. Harleen has already witnessed the degradation of normal citizens into blood-thirsty onlookers. Now the police, who are supposed to be lawful, are turning to violent vigilante justice because of the inefficacy of their laws.

Joker presents a compelling argument which is really the basis of his nihilistic personality. The reason why Gotham needs Batman is because he is not a representation of lawful justice. He works outside the law, and breaks the “hero” rules to establish his own vigilante justice. Just a party-pooper, amirite? But of course J has always been waiting for Batman to break his “no killing” rule, he’d like nothing more than to see the breakdown of Gotham’s protector.

The one thing J is successfully doing to draw Harley in, is that he’s letting her think she understands him, which is what she wants to do. Dropping a few breadcrumbs for her to follow. I think she interests him and he’s curious about what he can eventually get from her. As a narcissist, he’ll take over anything clown-related as it points back to himself. I also think he’s attracted to the idea of turning anything “good” or sane into something evil, or insane. And Harley currently doesn’t realize he’s playing this game. The red riding hood imagery is very fitting. Once Harley convinces herself that the Joker needs her, it’s pretty much all over for her sanity. Nice knowing ya.

Also I have to mention since the focus shifts to Harvey Two-Face quite a bit in this book, I love his descent into madness at the press conference. The unhinged, erratic lettering as he rants in front of the statue of Blind Justice is very effective. She’s his patron saint, after all, she represents the impartiality of true justice. Two-Face owes his entire persona to the random probability of a coin toss.

Anyway, toxic hugs for everyone :hugs: I’ll see you tomorrow for book three.

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Didn’t realize HQ slept her way to a degree originally. While I’m sure it was intended to be funny at the time, it comes across as creepy now. Just shows how the character practically forced her way to growth beyond her creator’s depiction.

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Yeah, definitely. That origin can be found in Mad Love, comic book version only. Although Paul Dini (or Bruce Timm, not sure who was responsible for that imagery) decided to go that route, they did always illustrate that Harley was much more intelligent and cunning than people took her for. Dini originated probably the most villainous version, but I think her resourcefulness and ambition really shine. And, of course, they did balance it out with her heart.

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Book Three. Getting deeper into the mad fantasy Joker is creating to get Harleen on his side… dare I say she’s gone far down the rabbit hole already. As a fan of Alice In Wonderland as well, I’m happy to see that imagery included.

Love these two panels:


A great villain wholeheartedly believes in their cause, and Two-Face is vehemently certain he’s doing the right thing. He might have a point if not for the fact that they’re fine with killing people for the reasons they decide are acceptable.

So, Harley admits to herself that she’s fallen in love with the Joker. Her ambitious research goals seem to be shifting. Instead of researching the death of his empathy, she wants to help him change. She convinced herself that he isn’t a theatrical, devious person who admittedly loves to lie and commit hilarious crimes. She now views him as a poor soul reaching out for help, that nobody else was able to see. It’s interesting that all the Joker did to bring this about was to give her a few tidbits of information about himself that didn’t seem overtly disingenuous. Because, we remember from the earlier books, he used to tell extreme and farfetched stories. He made the change seem sincere in comparison.

At this point we see that Harleen isn’t willing to listen to anyone who might be trying to turn her away from him. She becomes super protective and shuts everyone else out. Batman wasn’t really able to get a word in edgewise about why he was trying to question J in Arkham. Batman probably should have noticed what was going on here I think, “world’s greatest detective” and all. Harley is being very obvious that she isn’t impartial, and she isn’t shy about showing her feelings. If Batman could’ve spared a few bat-minutes to research their sessions he could’ve found out they always turn the cameras off. That may be slightly suspicious.

The cautionary tale comes back around in the end. She spent so much energy and destroyed her life trying to help someone who didn’t want to be helped. Harleen wanted to be loved and needed so much that she blinded herself to reality and projected those things onto the Joker. The panel with all of her choices flashing back as she pulls the trigger is beautifully done. The ending is hopeful, despite our mistakes there will always be a way out, and a better choice.

Now… sequel, please, Šejić? :pray:

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It is sad that this is in limbo but I do think it is only a long hiatus and not gone forever. There is silver lining in knowing Sejic is about to drop Fine Print on the world. You can check out the preview on his twitter.

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Hey @Harleys-Crew
For this round of reading, we’re gonna continue on with Harleen. You know the drill: From 3/15 to 3/28, read at your leisure and drop by right here with your thoughts, favorite panels, etc, when you’re ready!
:diamonds::black_heart: See ya soon!

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which book are we on?

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Hah, and here I power re-read the issues to get ready for it yesterday. :sweat_smile:

All three issues.

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ok thanks! I’ve been meaning to read these anyways so I’m pretty excited!

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I hope you enjoy them! This was the first time I read them and I enjoyed them a lot.

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Hey @Jurisdiction! We’re reading all 3 :+1: Take all the time you need.

@Jay_Kay Oh noooo! I knew there were some people who wanted to participate, so opted for the extension. This gives you plenty of time! :face_with_hand_over_mouth::purple_heart:

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Huzzah, more time! :partying_face:

'Cuz…I’ve only flipped through #1 so far.

sighs

I’ll read Harleen, I will. Really.

I’m reading Future State: Harley Quinn right now, so that counts for something in the annals of Harley-based minis, yeah?

Bueller? Bueller?

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