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Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

by Mariko Tamaki

Other authors: Steve Pugh (Illustrator)

Series: Harley Quinn

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1285160,750 (3.91)14
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 gets mad. She decides to turn her anger into action and is faced with two choices: join activist Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join her anarchist friend Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time. From Eisner Award and Caldecott Honor-winning author Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Steve Pugh comes a coming-of-age story about choices, consequences, and how a weird kid from Gotham goes about defining her world for herself.… (more)
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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
This is really entertaining and feels like a wonderful pair for the recent Birds of Prey movie. It has Ivy, Harley, the Joker and other comic book characters but even if you don't know any of them it lays out the story in a way that's very easy to get into. It's also funny and feminist and they all feel like actual teens. 10/10 would def read more. ( )
  bookbrig | Aug 5, 2020 |
Harleen Quinzel is the brash, unlikely heroine of her own folk tale. Shades of Batman (The Joker appears) and set in mythical Gotham, Harleen lands in Gotham only to find her grandmother dead and gone and her apartment inhabited by a motley crew of gays / transients / homeless. Harleen finds herself fighting for her friends (hilariously earnest Ivy) and surrogate family (incl. grand 'queen' Mama... an aging transsexaul.) They face eviction by Kane, Inc. in a sweeping neighborhood renewal / gentrification movement. Harleen (harlequin, get it?) is not a deep thinker (the world, to her consists of "angels" and "demons" and the worst thing is to be a "booger." What she lacks in articulation, she makes up for with energy and determination. the book ends on a cliff-hanger as Harleen prepares to face off with The Joker. Terrific art, engrossing; plot, healthy dose of politics and social consciousness = a great graphic novel. ( )
  mjspear | Jan 13, 2020 |
Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh’s Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass reinterprets Harley Quinn as a high school girl living in Gotham in the modern day. The concept resembles Jeffrey Thomas’s cancelled animated series, Gotham High, though Tamaki avoids the urge to force cameos of familiar characters, instead telling her own story. Using the income inequality of a major city like Gotham and the power structures that reinforce it as a backdrop, Tamaki focuses on Harley Quinn finding a group of misfits to call family and the struggles they go though just to find some joy in a world that seeks to grind them down. Along the way she meets Ivy, who introduces Harley to ways she can challenge the status quo, though Quinn naturally makes those ideas her own. The spoiled sons of the wealthy demonstrate all the sociopathic tendencies one would expect from children who have never had to face the consequences of their actions, with John Kane, heir to the Kane fortune and Millennium Enterprises, leading the bunch. Tamaki plays with the concept of performative identity in the story. Harley discovers her own as the story progresses, learning from drag queens how to express her bubbly personality through flamboyance. If she and her friends are expressing their inner joy to the world, people like the Kanes use a mask of joy to hide their soullessness. As Tamaki writes, “Harleen’s mother said to watch out for anyone who can’t smile with their eyes” (pg. 64). In nearly every scene, artist Steve Pugh perfectly depicts the Kanes’ smiles more like rictus grins than anything friendly. Through Ivy, Tamaki sums up the timeliness of the book’s message. Facing the eviction of her entire neighborhood to pave the way for luxury condos, Ivy says, “This is not just about Mama. Or you. Or me. It’s not just about Gotham. It’s everywhere. It’s corporations before communities. It’s a system that protects the rich, fucks the poor. That keeps the powerful, powerful and the oppressed, oppressed. It always has. It always will” (pg. 92). This comes through in Pugh’s art, which brilliantly uses color to set the mood. His depiction of characters is dynamic and lifelike while his color washes evoke emotion in a way more traditional coloring might not. DC markets their DC Ink line of graphic novels to young adults and Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass shows that, like other current YA fiction, they’re not shying away from addressing serious topics. Tamaki and Pugh write honestly about issues that teens will understand and they don’t try to sugarcoat the hard facts. Their book uses Quinn to tell a story that’s both faithful to her character and relevant to readers, further demonstrating the power of graphic novels. ( )
1 vote DarthDeverell | Sep 15, 2019 |
And I'd give it another couple of stars if I could. Can I have the next book now? Please? Teen Harleen is now my favorite. ( )
  clrichm | Aug 20, 2019 |
I've never really been a fan of Harley Quinn. I get how she is appealing as a side character, good for a laugh, but the books she headlines are usually as lifeless and dull as this one.

Here we have a revamped Elseworlds-style origin story that has Harleen Quinzel becoming Harley in high school when she gets involved with a community activist named Ivy and a local business owner whose drag queen venue is being crushed by evil real estate developers. And there's a weak ass version of Joker (definitely not your father's Joker, kids) running around doing a whole lot of nothing with a very easily guessed secret identity.

It's a shame this mediocrity of a story is draped over some of Steve Pugh's most gorgeous art ever.

Reviewed from an Advance Reader's Copy. ( )
  villemezbrown | May 4, 2019 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mariko Tamakiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pugh, SteveIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Listen up, 'cuz I'm going to tell you this really great story and you're gonna love it.
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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 gets mad. She decides to turn her anger into action and is faced with two choices: join activist Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join her anarchist friend Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time. From Eisner Award and Caldecott Honor-winning author Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Steve Pugh comes a coming-of-age story about choices, consequences, and how a weird kid from Gotham goes about defining her world for herself.

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