Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1 Is the Perfect Companion to the Film


Story by
Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner
Art by
Amanda Conner
Colors by
Paul Mounts
Letters by
John J. Hill
Cover by
Alex Sinclair, Amanda Conner, Derrick Chew
DC Comics

With Birds of Prey putting a decidedly more adult-oriented cinematic spin on classic comic book characters like Black Canary and Harley Quinn, DC Black Label -- the publisher's mature audience imprint -- has launched a new miniseries similarly unafraid of traditional content restrictions. Reuniting the fan-favorite creative team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, who previously helmed the New 52-era Harley Quinn ongoing series, Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey, goes for broke with its zany humor and bloody violence... once it gets going.

The opening issue of the new miniseries has Harley hit a bit of a personal rock bottom, following a falling out with longtime friend and occasional paramour Poison Ivy. As Harley continues to scrape by from her dangerously low-rent apartment in Brooklyn, several surprise DC Universe guest stars pop by in an attempt to cheer her back up before she is drawn into an explosively wacky new adventure that leads her on a collision course with the Birds of Prey.

In many ways, this new miniseries feels like a direct continuation of Conner and Palmiotti's New 52 series -- including several familiar faces from the previous title -- which is sure to delight fans of the popular run that helped inform Harley's place in the wider DCU. This is undoubtedly aided by Conner on art, joined with colorist Paul Mounts, with Conner even returning to render another DC icon that she has had a fair bit of experience with in the past that appears in a support capacity. Conner and Palmiotti's sense of humor is much the same from the previous series, packing every panel with blink-and-you-miss-it sight gags, Harley's hyper-verbal dialogue and admittedly wacky proceedings.

Of course, being published as part of DC Black Label this time around, this means that the content can run more risque than its predecessor and does, with Conner and Palmiotti ramping up the maturity of the subject matter as the issue progresses. The language gradually grows more profane and the jokes themselves become increasingly more suggestive. There was always an undercurrent of innuendo in the creative team's previous run with Harley, and once the action sequences inevitably kick into gear, all hell breaks loose as Conner and Palmiotti take full advantage of the possibilities of the greater creative freedom they've been afforded.

Having said all this, there is a surprising amount of setup and exposition before the story really gathers pace, perhaps more noticeable because of the increased page count than a standard monthly issue. This isn't to say that the jokes still aren't flying fast and furious but it is a largely dialogue-heavy affair as Harley catches up readers on what she's been up to since Conner and Palmiotti had last written her ongoing adventures. Fortunately, this approach does make this opening issue more accessible to those that may not have read the previous volume but it does move at a noticeably deliberate pace.

A fun reminder of how great Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's run was on their previous Harley Quinn series, both narratively and visually, this new miniseries also offers a chance to see how influential their work was on informing the tone and humor in the recent DC Extended Universe film.

Conner was born to draw Harley Quinn and her seedy yet hilarious world, with genuinely thrilling action sequences and plenty of colorful characters to keep the visuals as lively as ever. With things only looking to escalate as the Birds of Prey are drawn deeper into Harley's antics, this story is sure to be something special as the creative team returns for a full-tilt boogie with Harley, complete with all the raunchy humor and brutal violence that comes with the character.

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