Rummanah Aasi
Description: With just five dollars and a knapsack to her name, fifteen-year-old Harleen Quinzel is sent to live in Gotham City. She's not worried, though--she's battled a lot of hard situations as a kid, and knows her determination and outspokenness will carry her through life in the most dangerous city in the world. And when Gotham's finest drag queen, Mama, takes her in, it seems like Harley has finally found a place to grow into her most 'true true' with new best friend Ivy at Gotham High. But when Mama's drag cabaret becomes the next victim in the wave of gentrification that's taking over the neighborhood, Harley's fortune takes another turn. Now Harleen is mad. In turning her anger into action, she is faced with two choices: Join activist Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or team up with her anarchist friend Jack, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time.

Review: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass takes on gentrification in its anti-heroine origin story. In this version Harley is a bubbly and outgoing teen that actually has a moral compass. When she is sent to live with her grandmother in Gotham City, she discovers her grandmother has died, but apartment manager Mama, a white, gay man who also manages the local drag queen bar, lets her stay. Harley finds her place among a colorful “mutiny of queens” and makes a new best friend, Ivy Du-Barry also known as Poison Ivy. Harley is introduced to the concept of gentrification and activism as the two form protests against the high school film club, who refuses to include movies directed by women and people of color. Gentrification hits home for Harley when Mama receives news of an impending eviction and crosses paths with the Joker.
  Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is a fast, fun read. The text pops just like Harley's personality. I liked the juxtaposition between activism and chaos that Harley and Joker are known for in the DC universe. I also enjoyed learning more about Harley's background in flashbacks, shaded in orange. The diverse cast of characters is a huge plus and welcomed. While I appreciated the discussion of the impact of gentrification, it did come across as a bit heavy handed. I also did not care for the Joker and his real identity is a bit anti-climatic. The illustrations by Pugh are fantastic and really make this graphic novel come alive. When characters are truly in their element, their trademark colors are used: a red and black scheme for Harley, shades of green for Ivy, and the Joker’s purple. Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is a nuanced, social conscious graphic novel that will not have a hard time finding an audience.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language and some strong violence. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle
3 Responses
  1. It’s nice to see that this is more than a graphic novel meant to entertain even if the gentrification gets a little heavy handed. I want to see the bright colorful illustrations.

  2. Too bad this one wasn't a hit. I do like the idea that the artist used color schemes for each character though.

  3. Greg Says:

    This sounds pretty good! Glad you enjoyed it even if the gentrification stuff came across a little heavy- handed. It's a fine line with graphic novels sometimes I think- how to tell a story with a message but not go overboard. This one definitely looks like it's worth a look!

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