Harleen Book Three Review

by Olivier Roth on December 18, 2019

Story and Art: Stjepan Šejić

Letters: Gabriela Downie

Published by: DC Black Label


With the publication of the final book in this DC Black Label series by Stjepan Šejić, I can honestly say, this has been one of the most refreshing look back at an origin story in recent memory. Šejić has given us an excellent look at how Dr. Harleen Quinzel could become the Princess of Crime Harley Quinn - and even though we know what is about to happen, it’s no less stressful that there is nothing we, as an outside observer and reader, can do about it. And I believe that is the beauty of this series: Šejić, over the course of three, 60 page books, has made me care about Dr. Quinzel and made me feel for her and her descent into the madness that is the Joker. 


Like the two previous books, Šejić uses a first-person narration of Harley explaining to the reader how she became Harley Quinn, and how, as a psychologist, she should have seen all the warning signs that the Joker, her Mr. Jay, was manipulating her all along during their sessions. 


The framing device used in this book is the descent into madness of Two-Face as he and his new Executioner henchmen (police officers disenfranchised with the criminal justice system) devise a plan to break out all the inmates of Arkham Asylum to force Gotham to confront its inability to deal properly with their criminal element. As it was foreshadowed in Book One, it is during this breakout that both Two-Face and Harleen Quinzel become murderers. 


Previous to this, we see the final stages of the indoctrination of Dr. Quinzel by the manipulations of the Joker. Even though I’m not a psychologist, you can tell that Dr. Quinzel is breaking ALL the rules of doctor/patient decorum with the Joker as she continues to try and rehabilitate him, even going as far as stating she is the only person who can do it. However, as we come to learn throughout the book, and for those already familiar with her origin, already knew, this has all been a long con by the Joker. We’ve been warned throughout the series that Joker is a master manipulator, none more apparent than what he does to Dr. Quinzel. 


The coda of the series perfectly sums it up as we have Batman and Alfred conversing on the events of that night and how the Joker was able to do it. Šejić dropped a few clues in the previous two books and through this conversation, you see how Joker was able to perfect his manipulation. It’s a very sad tale, and one that you truly wish had a different ending. 


Šejić’s art throughout, is, as always, magnificent. He continually showcases his deft hand at digital drawing (if you’ve never seen him work, you can check him out on YouTube). He’s still one of my favorites when it comes to facial expressions and having characters show their emotions. Throughout you can see both the passion that Dr. Quinzel has, but also how she is slowly descending into madness. The best page of the whole book, and what really feels like the best encapsulation of the character as a whole is the final page. I won’t spoil what it is, but it’s an image that will stick with me for a long time. 

Our Score:


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