04th May2021

‘Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey: The Hunt for Harley’ Graphic Novel Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti | Art by Amanda Conner | Published by DC Black Label | Format: Hardback, 144 pp

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti―the duo who redefined Harley Quinn for the modern era―return to DC Comics, under the Vertigo-replacing DC Black Label, to put an exclamation point on their legendary run (which began back in 2013) with this hardcover collection which includes Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey #1-4, along with a short story from Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #12. The story goes something like this…

Harley Quinn has avoided Gotham City ever since she broke up with the Joker and found a home, and a kind of family, in Coney Island. But when she gets an offer she can’t refuse, she has no choice but to slip back into the city as quietly as she can, hoping to be gone before anyone―especially her ex―learns she’s there to steal Joker’s legendary cache of loot. But for Harley, ‘as quietly as she can’ is plenty loud and before she can say ‘Holee bounty hunters, Batman,’ the Joker’s sicced every super-villain in the city on her pretty ombré head―and the only people tough enough (or crazy enough) to come to her defense are Black Canary, Huntress, Renee Montoya, and Cassandra Cain… the Birds of Prey!

Let’s be honest, not everyone out there will be familiar with Harley Quinn from the comic books. Many fans of the character are fans because of the way she looks; her appearances in the DCEU; and more recently the well-regarded animated series. So where to start with Harley Quinn in comics? You could do a lot worse than the DC Black Label book Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey… Why? Well, this book feels very much like an amalgam of the Birds of Prey from the titular movie AND the hilariosu escapades as seen in the animated series. In fact, despite a few changes in terms of Harley’s team mates, the plot of this book could easily be translated into a story arc in the show!

The good thing about DC Black Label is the fact the books don’t have to conform to the traditional comic medium; in fact a number of these books are printed in an over-sized “magazine ” size and here the over-sized hardcover format really makes the artwork pop – the bright colours translate well to the page and the action is big and bold on the page. Speaking of art, this book looks absolutely stunning… I don’t think there’s anyone who can draw Harley Quinn as good as Amanda Conner, her art style just suits the character to a tee; for me when you say talk about Harley Quinn in comics I instantly think of Amanda Conner’s art. Of course with Conner’s art comes a story by Jimmy Palmiotti. And what a story! A madcap crime caper that brings out everything thats good about DC comics, without focusing on any of the “trinity”; balancing fun, action, horror and a lot, a LOT, of laughs (including poking fun at DC books and characters) this is a swift read that breezes through its story without skimping on detail – there’s plenty of character development and interaction here without ever making the book feel wordy – a feat in itself!

If you’ve got someone in your life who’s a huge fan of the Harley Quinn animated series this would make for a perfect entry in comics for them.

***** 5/5

Harley Quinn & the Birds of Prey: The Hunt for Harley is out now from DC Comics/DC Black Label.

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