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FUTURE STATE: HARLEY QUINN Quinn #1 Review

Neil reviews DC Comics FUTURE STATE: HARLEY QUINN #1. The book is in stores and on digital now. Neil calls this book “one hell of an entry point” to the Future State initiative.

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Future State: Harley Quinn #1 (DC Comics)
Future State: Harley Quinn #1 cover art by Derrick Chew

Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is available to purchase now on digital and in print from DC Comics. The issue is written by Stephanie Phillips with artwork & inks by Simone Di Meo. Colours are by Tamra Bonvillain.

Cover art is by Derrick Chew.

Synopsis

In a bold move that rocks Gotham City, the Magistrate has imprisoned Harley Quinn! The villain once known as the Scarecrow, now a pawn of the Magistrate, taps into Harley’s knowledge of Gotham’s villains and the Black Mask Gang for his own dark purposes. Crane and his bosses think they have Harley Quinn defeated and her spirit broken, but they are sorely mistaken-and Harley will have her revenge. Written by rising star writer Stephanie Phillips and drawn by fan-favorite artist Simone Di Meo, the next era of Harley Quinn begins here!

Review

My first foray in to the world of DC Comics Future State had to be none-other than Harley Quinn. Those expecting a huge, anarchic Harley story might want to alter their expectations a little as Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is instead an excellent psychological study of the character.

Writer Stephanie Phillips (Devil Within, The Immortal Hulk) hits the ground running with an interesting premise: our Maiden of Mischief is captured by the prevailing law enforcement in future Gotham. Once in chains she’s interrogated and put to work by a supposedly reformed Jonathan Crane.

From one psychologist to another the dialogue between the two is incredibly insightful. Crane picks apart Harley’s character poking fun at her history, her prior mental state and – of course – her relationship with Joker. It’s not quite character assassination but does look at the state of her mental health from a rather provocative manner. Meanwhile Harley is typically acerbic. She spits barbs at him and this facade of sanity which he now wears.

The back-and-forth between the two takes up most of the middle of the book. It’s measured and keeps tight pacing with razor-sharp focus. Phillips drops in nuggets of information which also flesh out the Future State world of Gotham without hesitation. We learn that someone (or something) called The Magistrate arrived in Gotham, removed Batman and outlawed masked vigilantes. This is not the playing field we’re used to Super Friends…

We learn that Crane needs Quinn to help him bag some of Gotham’s weirdest and worst, staring with Professor Pyg. His capture comes at the half-way mark in the book. Swift justice from Quinn before returning to the back-and-forth to help round out their conversation and launch the reader in to the action.

Yes, there is still some action here. Whilst capturing Pyg is fair brief there are more villains to take down and these sequences are more expansive. Crane sends Harley out to capture Garfield Lynns aka Firefly. Taking him down is our action set-piece for the issue. It’s beautifully setup and executed thanks for Simone Di Meo’s outstanding artwork. More on that in a mo.

The book rounds out with a tantalising tease that might tug at the heartstrings of Birds of Prey fans. It seems Harley’s next target is none other than Black Mask!

Overall, Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is low key but in the best way possible. Rather than throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, Phillips instead teases out a slow burner with masterful pacing. Her storytelling is impactful and really drills down in to the heart of the character and her intelligence which is so-often overlooked.

As for Simone Di Meo’s artwork. I’ve loved his work on Power Rangers and at BOOM! Studios. Bringing his sharp-angled sensibility to DC and to Harley is beyond stunning. There’s a Batman Beyond Neo-noir-esque look the atmosphere for future Gotham and it looks great. Harley’s new look isn’t fully explored on the page but what we see is reminiscent of her character but also new and exciting.

Verdict

Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is one hell of an entry point in to the Future State initiative. Razor sharp dialogue, stunning visuals. This book as it all


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