Review – Harley Quinn #2: Strange Doings in Gotham

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Harley Quinn #2 variant cover,via DC Comics.

Harley Quinn #2 – Stephanie Phillips, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: Stephanie Phillips is asking a very interesting question with this new run—what does it actually mean to reform? The POV characters are Harley, of course, and her new companion Kevin. This schlubby former Joker henchman seemed like a harmless goon with only a brief history as a criminal last issue, but this issue casts some doubt on that—putting him at the scene of a truly horrific crime during the madness of Joker War. The banter between the two of them is a lot of fun and adds some of the humor that this title usually has, but there’s a darker edge over the whole affair than Harley usually has, and it seems to be the first solo run on the character interested in reckoning with her history as a supervillain. The plot even shows that Gotham may not be as ready to forgive her as Batman is, which should add an interesting dynamic—how much abuse is Harley ready to take before her worst instincts come out?

Harley’s rage. Via DC Comics.

However, Gotham is selective with their forgiveness, and that’s this issue’s one big weakness. The announcement by Mayor Nanako that he’s appointing notorious supervillain Hugo Strange as the head of the replacement for Arkham is, honestly, kind of laughable. It makes Nanako look like a complete idiot—unless, of course, he’s not in full control of himself thanks to Strange or Scarecrow. Even though Strange’s presence may need some explanation, the character himself is an effective presence. He’s menacing, subtly sadistic, and has a plan to “heal” Gotham that puts himself directly in Harley’s path. This is a very talky issue, with only a few action scenes, and that makes it feel like we’re sitting in on Harley’s personal therapy session. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it also makes it a little hard to gauge the overall direction of the run. Still, the talent on both the writing and art side here is very clear.

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