Story and Art Stjepan Sejic
Letters Gabriela Downie
Cover and Variant Cover Stjepan Sejic
What a weighty book! I have to admit that I’ve been a big fan of these new DC Black Label books, the large format, large page count and lack of advertisements is simply fantastic. The longer page count worked incredibly well having a single mind creating the story printed into the interiors of this issue. The experience of reading this was a unique one, it was long and enjoyable, with good narrative, and treated our beloved Harley with the respect she deserves.
The more in depth and slightly different take on Harley Quinn’s origin, as written by Stjepan Sejic, was very engrossing. I felt like I was watching a movie in my mind while enjoying the words and art. Mr. Sejic’s presentation of the past choices and earlier times in Harley’s life made me feel bad for her younger self and helped to shed more light on my understanding of her as a character. I felt myself feeling concern for her and got an ominous feeling of watching something terrible that’s about to happen and having no way to stop it.
One of my favorite parts of the book, and a great example of what can happen when the story and art are guided by one hand, was after Harley decided that it was time for her to speak with Joker in pursuit of her research project. As she’s working her way through all the videotaped interviews with Joker, watching them, she gets to one final tape labeled “The Real Joker,” in this last tape, the lies and games that Joker tells and plays for his doctors slip, and his real personality shows through for a brief minute. While I read that part I knew that Mr. Sejic had written those scenes with a very good idea of how he wanted to illustrate them. Great work.
Another thing that I felt Mr. Sejic pulled off adroitly through the combination of his writing and art was giving the reader a real sense of despair and the lack of hope that all who are residents of, or work for, Arkham Asylum, surely must feel.
The art in this book was strong, and is the result of a person with talent and skill. This surely must be the result of many hours spent hammering away in front of a metaphorical forge, it shows. The cover of this first issue is very good, specifically, and a great example of Mr. Sejic at his best. The look in Harley’s eyes as she gazes at you, stroking her chin, manic glee pouring out from her eyes, has to be one of the best Harley portraits ever done. Could you imagine standing before a woman who was looking at you like that? After looking at this cover long enough, I think I can.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I read this book, whether it would be a comedy, or tragedy, funny or sad, never occurred to me, or even if I would like it. After this issue I still can’t say I know where this story is going, but I can say that I like watching it get there and I want to read the next two books.
It’s inherent to the character of Harley that things are going to go bad for her, in all likelihood, but Stjepan Sejic is doing such a good job of making me feel her pain that I’m crossing my fingers and hoping he takes it easy on Harley.
On your way into an interview with a human monster, get this book and give it to him so he can…