Sunday, December 17, 2017

Review: The Ascendance of Harley Quinn by Shelley E Barba & Joy M Perrin

Title: The Ascendance of Harley Quinn: Essays on DC's Enigmatic Villain
Editors: Shelley E Barba & Joy M Perrin
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 2nd 2017
Source: McFarland & Company

Book Description:

 Since her first appearance in 1992, Harley Quinn--eccentric sidekick to the Joker--has captured the attention of readers like few new characters have in eight decades of Batman comics. Her bubbly yet malicious persona has earned her a loyal and growing fan base as she has crossed over into television, theater, video games, and film. In this collection of new essays, contributors explore her various iterations, focusing on her origin and contexts, the implications of her abusive relationship with the Joker, her relationships with other characters, her representations across media, and the philosophic basis of her character.



To sound like that person we all hate: I liked Harley Quinn before it was cool.

Now that that's out of the way, I was so excited to see a book of people talking about one of my favorite comic book/cartoon characters. The cover art is cute, and the premise of essays from different authors about this character along with her symbolism and philosophies. I was expecting something akin to the "The Philosophy of (insert pop culture reference here)" books that I read a few of in college. But, I was left a bit disappointed.

I found the essays to be a bit monotone and repetitive. While I know the blurb says this book is comprised of essays, I expected well written, well researched, short opinion pieces. And some of them were! But others felt like reading high school essays that were given as an assignment, with arguments that aren't completely supported, or with background information written as though it were a History of DC text book.

Like I said, there were some essays that were strong and really interesting. But others just weren't. I suppose that's the risk you take when reading an essay collection or anthology.

It's worth reading if you're a huge fan of Harley Quinn, DC, or comics. But if you're not, or if you're looking for a deeper philosophical-type examination of Harley, this might not be super helpful for you.

I was given a copy in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I would definitely give this book a read. I also loved Harley before it was cool, and I'm always interested in reading more books that focus on her.