Activism, Community, and Harlequins REVIEWING Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

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I've got another DC YA graphic novel to talk about, but this one stars my favorite DC character.  

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Author: Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh, and Carlos M. Mangual
Year: 2019
Genre: YA Graphic Novel


Outspoken, rebellious, and eccentric fifteen-year-old Harleen Quinzel has five dollars to her name when she's sent to live in Gotham City. Harleen has battled a lot of hard situations as a kid, but her fortune turns when Gotham's finest drag queen, Mama, takes her in. And at first it seems like Harleen has finally found a place to grow into her most "true true," with new best friend Ivy at Gotham High. But then Harley's fortune takes another turn when Mama's drag cabaret becomes the next victim in the wave of gentrification that's taking over the neighborhood. 

Now Harleen is mad. In turning her anger into action, she is faced with two choices: join Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join The Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time.


As a big fan of Harley Quinn, I was super excited to give this book a shot. Harley is a character with a bit of duplicity right now. She was introduced as a villain, but in recent comics has been turning over a new leaf. She's becoming a hero. She has also - thankfully - become more independent, separating from her abusive relationship with the Joker. This book has a lot of opportunities to do great things and a lot of room to fail...

Thankfully, this graphic novel stays to the positive side of that spectrum. In this book, Harley is a teenage girl sent to live with her grandmother. Her mother has gotten work on a cruise ship and is out of communication when Harleen finds out her grandmother passed away. This places her in Gotham with nowhere to stay. However, her grandmother's tenant is really nice and lets her stay in the old apartment, while looking out for her. This is Mama, the drag queen mentioned in the synopsis. Harley ends up hanging out with Mama and the members of the drag cabaret, who welcome her and give her a home. They also have her go to school, where she befriends Ivy. 

Ivy and Harley are an intriguing pair of friends, since Harley is very whimsical and Ivy is very serious. Harley begins helping Ivy with some activism at school and they continue from there, fighting against the snobby behavior of rich boy, John Kane. Overall the story is rather straightforward. Harley is trying to find out who she is and where she fits in her new life, while getting into lots of trouble. This is one of the best parts of this graphic novel. 

Harley has been a character who is endearing, while being troublesome. She borders on annoying, but she's also hilarious. Additionally, she teeters between being evil and wanting to be good. Often it is her influences that shift up who she is. In this story, she gets both positive and negative influences, but ultimately SHE chooses what she wants to do. For a long time, Harley has been defined by her relationship to the Joker, not for who SHE is or wants to be. New stories, including this one, are giving her the chance to make her own choices and dictate her own path. Harley is great in this book, learning about her new world, and getting to explore on her own. There are flashbacks and new adventures, giving a well-rounded picture of who she is in THIS particular iteration of her story. It's different from the usual origin, but it's definitely intriguing. Every reader might not like some of the subject matter, but Gotham has always been a city with many facets that doesn't shy away from sharing its bright and dark corners. 

I liked this one and found it to be fun. It isn't my top favorite DC YA graphic novel, nor is it my top favorite Harley Quinn story, but it's a good time. I give Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass a Lone Star review of ✯✯✯ stars. It's not my top favorite YA graphic novel, but it's a solid read and it's especially good as a fresh start for Harley. I've enjoyed seeing DC's new twists on the character. Thanks for joining me for today's review here at The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books to your computer screen and even put in my two cents about them! See you at the next review!