About the Book

Title: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Published: 2019
Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Cover Story: Title Forward
BFF Charm: Caution
Talky Talk: Unexpected
Arty Art: Too Real
Bonus Factors: Drag Queens, Activism
Relationship Status: Tentative Friends

Cover Story: Title Forward

This cover leans heavily on the title, with only a little bit of art in the way of Harley gleefully celebrating what seems to be her recent bashing of the second part of the title. Although it’s far less comic-y than the other covers in the DC Ink line, I really like how well this one ties in with Harley’s character. (And the black, white, and red color scheme is so classic!)

The Deal:

Harleen “Harley” Quinn has arrived in Gotham City to stay for an indeterminate amount of time with her grandmother while her mom’s working on a cruise. Only, it’s not her grandmother who Harley finds at the address she was given; instead, it’s a drag queen named Mama who owns the drag club on the first floor of the building.

Mama gives Harley a temporary home, and Harley sets out to find herself some friends—in the form of Ivy Du-Barry, a fellow Gotham High student—and avoid the “boogers”—specifically a mysterious and dangerous individual who goes by “Joker.”

BFF Charm: Caution

BFF charm wrapped in yellow "Caution" tape

Although the Harley in Breaking Glass is not the Harley I’m familiar with from cartoons, movies, and comics—i.e., pretty dang crazy and often a total villain—she’s still not entirely the most stable of individuals. But she’s got a good heart and a pretty distinct vision of what’s right and wrong, even if she sometimes goes about doing right in a very not so legal kind of way. I’m too much of a rule breaker to be friends with her, given her proclivities, but she’s definitely the kind of young woman I’d envy and appreciate from afar.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

There’s something appealing about Joker, specifically his total disregard for the rules. But Harley doesn’t completely buy into what he’s selling, and she’s much too smart to follow him blindly. (Also, the mask he wears is SUPER CREEPY and total nightmare fuel. NOT SWOONY in any way.)

Talky Talk: Unexpected

Harley’s one of those surprisingly nuanced and complicated characters who grew out of the very flat, trope-ish character she was when she was first introduced. (In Batman: The Animated Series, if you were curious.) Since her early days, she’s become much more interesting—but not entirely good. Breaking Glass is a much different origin story than has been told before, but Tamaki does an excellent job of making this Harley her own character while incorporating aspects of the wacky one who’s more familiar. The book’s Harley is trying to figure herself out while being asked to be certain things to society, and Tamaki mixes her identity struggles nicely with a larger plot that revolves around gentrification. I never really thought I’d care much about Harley, but Tamaki’s made me want to know more.

Arty Art: Too Real

I was unfamiliar with Pugh’s art before reading Breaking Glass, and I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to seek it out in the future. It’s honestly a little unsettling, which works in this case? Harley’s an unsettling character, and this story isn’t cute or fluffy. Nor is Gotham a cute and fluffy place, in any depiction, ever. So even though I’m not a huge fan of the art, it works really well in this book.

Bonus Factor: Drag Queens

Harley soon finds herself a family amongst the drag queens who perform at Mama’s club. They’re wonderful. (I don’t completely understand Daniel/Hello Dali’s mask, but I just went with it.) (I get the art reference, but the mask is … strange.) (Which, yes, I get that Dali was strange and the combination of Hello Dolly and Salvador Dali is funny …) (OK, so maybe I get it. I just don’t love the mask.)

Bonus Factor: Activism

Ivy and her family are activists who, amongst other things, fight for keeping their neighborhood a neighborhood instead of another high-rise building that Gotham doesn’t really need. It’s a believable alternative origin tale for Ivy, who’s still very good with plants.

Relationship Status: Tentative Friends

I’m a goody two-shoes, Book, and fully able to admit that. Our lives are very different, but I recognize and appreciate that you’re willing to go the extra mile for the good of your friends and family. I’m just not sure I’m ever going to be able to be your equal, or even your sidekick. Maybe we can just hang at lunch?

Literary Matchmaking

Supergirl: Being Super

Mariko Tamaki’s no stranger to stories about young DC heroines; check out Supergirl: Being Super written by her with art by Joëlle Jones.

Teen Titans: Raven (Teen Titans #1)

The previous book in DC’s young adult line, Teen Titans: Raven, by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo, also gives a new life to a young woman who could easily turn to the dark side.

This One Summer

Tamaki also wrote a non-DC graphic novel with her cousin Jillian called This One Summer.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from DC Ink, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.