REVIEW: ‘Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1

Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1 is published by DC Comics as a digital-first, with story and art by Stjepan Sejic and letters by Gabriela Downie. Harley finds herself, once again, in the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. She is currently taking questions from a new doctor. What is this doctor’s particular interest in Harley? And what significance does the color red hold?

Sejic is a veteran when it comes to writing Harley Quinn. With the recent fantastic  Harleen series under his belt, he’s shown that he understands this character and what makes her tick. This remains true for Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1. Sejic sets aside the often overused zaniness that Harley is known for, instead of focusing on some of her deeper elements.

Perhaps my favorite thing about what Sejic does with Harley is how he fully embraces her intelligence. While authors often have Harley throw out off the cuff medical diagnosis to people, these usually feel more flippant than an actual acknowledgment of her experience and training. Sejic fully embraces just how knowledgeable Harley is. Identifying which tests a doctor is exposing her to, she clearly knows how psychology works.

Even with her deep understanding of methodology, Harley still isn’t immune to its impact. Her journey down memory lane and what triggers it feels extremely authentic. What simple aspect of existence can trigger in us, how it can conjure memory and elicit an emotional response in us is thoroughly explored.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red

The emphasis on psychology and memory is further augmented by Sejic’s art. The linework is exactly what you would expect of his instantly recognizable style. The broad range of emotion Harley is always bouncing between is handled wonderfully in Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1. Whether shocked, enraptured or enraged the emotions of Harley are always pushed front and center of every panel.

These emotional themes are further enhanced by Sejic’s choice to keep the entirety of this story in black and white. With the exception of the color red. While this emphasis on red isn’t a new technique, it is striking here. One of the hallmarks of comic books is bright, over the top coloring. This is doubly true for Harley. With artists often trying to increase the aura of chaos Harley is known for ostentatious color use. The tempering of color further reigns in Harley.

The other visual element that stands out is the recurring placement of the red, white, and black diamonds that show up throughout the story. Its presence intensifies when Harley is remembering moments where she is less stable and reinforces where Harley is in her emotions.

Lastly is the lettering work. Downie does a solid job of presenting the text for this story. They keep the presentation placed well within the panels and always the story to be followed easily.

When all is said and done I really liked Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1. I find myself thoroughly intrigued by where this story will go from her.

Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1 Is available now digitally.

‘Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red,’ Issue #1
4.5

TL;DR

When all is said and done I really liked Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red #1. I find myself thoroughly intrigued by where this story will go from her.