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Young Harley Quinn raises hell in Gotham for DC INK's Breaking Glass graphic novel

By Jeff Spry

Unless you've been habitating on a remote asteroid outside our galaxy, you're probably aware of the extreme popularity of DC's sassy bombshell villainess Harley Quinn and her rowdy exploits scattered across comics, graphic novels, movies, TV, and video games.

To further entrench Daddy's Lil Monster in the pop culture psyche, DC Comics' young adult division DC INK is primed to introduce readers to Harleen's early years in Gotham City with the latest in its captivating series of all-ages graphic novels, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive 8-page peek into its absorbing adolescent world.


Written by Eisner Award and Caldecott Honor-winning author Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) and accompanied by intense art from Eisner Award-nominated creator Steve Pugh, Breaking Glass charges into comic shops and bookstores on Sept. 3. It's a shattering coming-of-age story about tough choices, unintended consequences, and how one strange kid from Gotham goes about defining her complex world on her own terms.

The storyline opens as 15-year-old Harleen Quinzel is sent to reside in Gotham City, armed with only five dollars and a knapsack to her name. She's defiant and not worried, as she's battled many challenging and difficult situations as a kid, and knows the limits of her determination, betting that outspokenness will carry her through life in the most dangerous metropolis in the world. When Gotham's most infamous drag queen, Mama, takes her under her wing, it appears Harley has finally found a place to mature into her best self alongside her good pal Ivy at Gotham High.

But when Mama's colorful drag cabaret becomes the next victim in an ugly wave of gentrification taking over the neighborhood, Harley gets angry. She decides to transform her rage into action and is faced with two choices: join her activist friend Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a finer place, or join her insane buddy Joker, who intends to destroy Gotham one corporation at a time. 

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“I really wanted Harley to feel like a teenager," Tamaki tells SYFY WIRE. "Like this super amazing girl who chews gum in gym class and messes with the bunsen burner lighters in chemistry, who has the weirdest sense of humor and will take a bat to a car window for her best friend."

Tamaki's goal was to tell a story about the choice to be a hero, about the overall complexities of doing the right thing versus the easy thing or the thing you want to do, and make it feel like a Young Adult story.

“You can expect some Harley Quinn, some Harley Quinn-esque dialogue, some drag queens, a lot of Gotham, and some film trivia to boot," she adds. "I hope readers come away from this thinking about different superhero stories; I hope it inspires people to do their own take on the heroes and villains they grew up with. Steve [Pugh] was the only person I could picture doing this comic with. I had him in my brain from the very start of this project, so seeing what he did in this comic is an actual dream come true.”

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“Mariko is awesome!" Pugh tells SYFY WIRE. "We only recently got to talk to each other, but I kinda knew she’d be great from her writing. The script was really vivid, and I was never left to guess what the scene was really saying, yet there was always room to improvise detail and character moments.

"Harley starts off as this dynamic ball of clothes, she’s basically wearing everything she owns when she arrives in Gotham. Over the course of the story she magpies stuff here and there, building up her looks, finding her style and taking a few wrong turns!”

Now take a swing at our exclusive look inside DC INK's Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass in the gallery below, then chime in and tell us if you'll take a ride in Harley's turf when this energetic graphic novel arrives on Sept. 3.