Review – Harley Quinn: Reckoning

“When Harleen Quinzel scores an internship in a psych lab at Gotham University, she’s more than ecstatic; she’s desperate to make a Big Scientific Discovery that will land her a full-ride college scholarship and get her away from her abusive father. But when Harleen witnesses the way women are treated across STEM departments–and experiences harassment herself–she decides that revenge and justice are more important than her own dreams. 

Harleen finds her place in an intoxicating vigilante girl gang called the Reckoning, who creates chaos to inspire change. And when Harleen falls for another girl in the gang, it finally seems like she’s found her true passions. But what starts off as pranks and mischief quickly turns deadly as one of the gang members is found murdered–and a terrifying conspiracy is uncovered that puts the life Harleen has worked so hard for at stake. Will she choose her future–or will she choose revenge?

In this refreshingly feminist spin on the story of our favorite villainess, Harley Quinn: Reckoning traces Harleen’s journey from precocious, revenge-obsessed teenage girl to a hardcore justice-seeker on her way to becoming the most captivating Super Villain of all time. This is one story that you won’t be able to put down.”

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Written by Rachael Allen – or should I say, Dr. Rachael Allen, an actual neuroscientist, Harley Quinn: Reckoning is the first book in a trilogy of DC Icons books that will be exploring an aspect of Harleen many of us love and want to finally have some backstory for – the young Harleen, before she’s become a doctor, while she’s developing into the Dr. Quinzel that ultimately becomes the Maiden of Mischief, Harley Quinn. But this book serves two purposes: not only giving us a look at this time in Harleen’s life and history, but also confronting real life issues for women in the field of science. Including things based on things that have actually happened.

There’s so much I love about this book. It feels like a good balance of a lot of various Harleys. You can feel the different inspirations and an appreciation for her character and just how brilliant Harleen is. When respect is given to our girl, I’m always happy. I love getting to see how hard she worked to get to where she is, her fierce loyalty to her girl gang, and her determination. But along with all of that, we get glimpses of the Harley Quinn to come – the slightly more unhinged side of her. The side that leads her toward the Joker.

I’m not sure how controversial of an opinion this is, but I think this is one of the best representations of Harley’s sexuality. Her relationships aren’t weighted either way, which is an important representation of bisexuality. But along with that, Harleen is also shown with a consistent string of relationship problems and difficulties with connecting in healthy ways to others. Which again, really helps set up what we all know is coming.

Similarly, her fixation on the Joker from a scientific point of view blends with her other, more unhinged side, and gives us a point of view that really makes sense for why Harleen is drawn to him.

Aside from all that, there’s so many little treats throughout the book for fans that know their Harley references. A few in particular made me pretty happy, and I’m sure they’ll really steal the hearts of other readers.

I love seeing this Harleen as a champion for women, especially her fellow women of science. It’s inspiring and hopefully helps bring some attention to some of the things women in the field experience.

Definitely grab Harley Quinn: Reckoning and get excited, because Harley Quinn: Ravenous comes out in 2023!

-Angel

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