Future State’s first week continues as we take a look at what Harley Quinn’s status quo is in this possible future of the DC Universe. I haven’t read any of Harley Quinn’s solo comics up to this point. The character’s solo adventures have never interested me. That is until now with the creative team that DC Comics has lined up for Future State: Harley Quinn. Stephanie Phillips has impressed me with all the work she has done for DC Comics, with her Superman: Man Of Tomorrow issue being one of my favorite comics of 2020. Artist Simone Di Meo has also delivered plenty of impressive looking comic books through his work on BOOM! Studios’ Power Rangers comic books. With both Phillips and Di Meo on Future State: Harley Quinn there was no way I would pass up the chance to read this mini-series. Let’s see how things start out with Future State: Harley Quinn#1.
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Simone Di Meo
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in Gotham City, Harley Quinn battles a number of Magistrate soldiers. Eventually the Magistrate decide to send heavily armored robots to take down Harley Quinn.
Later, an injured Harley Quinn is brought to one of the Magistrate’s holding cells where Dr. Jonathan Crane comes to meet her. Dr. Crane reveals that he has joined the Magistrate, putting his life as Scarecrow behind him after seeing all the work they did to take out Batman and outlawing masks.
After some tense words Dr. Crane offers Harley Quinn a chance to work for the Magistrate as they need help with capturing other targets the organization has deemed extremely dangerous. The first of these targets is Professor Pyg, who has been kidnapping and returning Magistrate soldiers as Dollotrons.
Harley Quinn at first rejects the offer but after thinking about it gets Dr. Crane to agree to let her free if she works with Magistrate. Dr. Crane agrees since the Magistrate never actually deemed her a threat.
Harley Quinn then tells Dr. Crane about how Professor Pyg is a perfectionist as he believes what he is doing is creating art. With that in mind she says the Magistrate should promote their own versions of Dollotrons to the public. This would end up driving Professor Pyg nuts and put him place to be captured.
Some time later, Dr. Crane brings Harley Quinn the mask Professor Pyg wore as proof that her plan worked. Dr. Crane then orders for Harley Quinn’s restraints to be taken off. As that happens Dr. Crane reminds Harley Quinn what will happen if she turns against the Magistrate. Harley Quinn is fine with that as lone as Dr. Crane keeps to his promises.
Dr. Crane then reveals the next target the Magistrate need help with taking down is Firefly. Harley Quinn quickly comes up with a plan to use Firefly’s need to burn down things from his past to fake the reopening of St. Evangelina Orphanage that Garfield Lynn was from. Once Firefly gets to the fake reopening Harley Quinn suggests having cops there to combat him using firefighters equipment.
This plan is shown to work, impressing Dr. Crane once again. Dr. Crane then brings the next target that he says is the main course to the appetizers that Professor Pyg and Firefly were.
Elsewhere, at a convenience store, a guy in a Black Mask mask robs the cash register. When he goes back outside the guy is knocked out.
The guy then wakes up to find himself being threaten by the real Black Mask, who is pissed someone would use his mask as a toy for petty crimes. Black Mask makes an example out of the guy and immediately kills him. Black Mask then reminds his gang to never forget why they wear his mask. End of issue.
The Good: One of the things that makes all the Batman comic books in the Future State direction work so well is that they are all taking place around the same time. Having all these Future State Batman Family stories coinciding with one another helps build out the world of Gotham City in this timeline. Future State: Harley Quinn #1 was another strong example of that.
Like other Future State comic books, Harley Quinn #1 drops us right into the action with our lead character already in the middle of dealing with the current state of Gotham City. Stephanie Phillips hits the ground running by giving us Harley Quinn versus the Magistrate right away. There was no waiting around for this to happen.
Getting right into it gave us another opportunity to see how overwhelmingly powerful the Magistrate are. This is an organization that has all the power they need to maintain control in Gotham City. Whether its through heavily armed soldiers or robots, the Magistrate are a force to be reckon with.
Adding in how Jonathan Crane, the former Scarecrow, is working for the organization was a good way to work in classic villain into the organization. It adds more credibility to the Magistrate that they were actually able to turn one of Batman’s villains to work for them. This provides more incite into how the Magistrate takeover of Gotham City wasn’t just one that used physical power. All that was done without having to outright saying it. All of it is implied, allowing the reader to think of how Gotham City got to this state.
With all of the established Harley Quinn was positioned as a perfect foil and ally for the Magistrate to recruit to their side. Phillips does a great job giving us enough details about this version of Harley Quinn that shows that she has been through a lot in the time in between the present DC Universe and where we find her in the Future State timeline. Even when she finds her own, unique way of getting on Jonathan Crane and the Magistrate’s nerves this isn’t the normal Harley Quinn. She is much more measured and controlled in the way she acts and talks throughout Future State: Harley Quinn #1. It all hints at her going through a lot in the years we haven’t seen of her life up to the first page of this issue.
This works well into how the Magistrate intention for recruiting Harley Quinn to their group is to use her background as a psychiatrist to capture the Batman villains who still haven’t fallen in line with their regime. Harley Quinn proves that this was the right move by them as she quickly comes up with creative ways to capture both Professor Pyg and Firefly. In the process, it establishes how Harley Quinn’s understanding of how a person’s mind works may actually make her a threat the Magistrate don’t expect.
Setting this part of Harley Quinn’s character up made the fact that Black Mask is the big target that the Magistrate have been working her up to even more intriguing. Phillips quickly shows us how Black Mask is still a big threat in Gotham City even with how Magistrate took over. Black Mask comes across as even more deadly now that he has his whole Black Mask Gang. What kind of plan Harley Quinn comes up with to deal with Black Mask will be interesting to see play out.
Simone Di Meo artwork throughout Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is stunning. This more than any other Future State comic book does feel like we are in a future world. Di Meo’s artwork reminds me a lot of the vibe of Gotham City from the Batman Beyond show. Tamra Bonvillain’s coloring adds to that with the vibrant color palette she uses for Di Meo’s pencil. It all combines to have the artwork by Di Meo and Bonvillain to further elevate the story Phillips tells through her writing.
The Bad: Even with Jonathan Crane joining their ranks the Magistrate are a faceless organization. All we are getting is a lot of talk of how they have taken complete control of Gotham City. At some point it would be nice to see how Gotham City as a whole reacts to the Magistrate’s control. That would add greater depth to what Batman, Harley Quinn, and others are up against.
Overall: Future State: Harley Quinn #1 hits the ground running and does not stop on its way to delivering a fun reading experience. Stephanie Phillips does a great job delivering on a sense that Harley Quinn has gone through a lot since we last saw her without losing the core of what makes the character engaging. Simone Di Meo also knocks it out of the park delivering artwork that makes this entire comic book future vibe to it from character design to Gotham City itself.
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