Harley Quinn #4 – Stephanie Phillips, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Jay Leisten, Inker; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Harley Quinn found herself in an uncomfortable fix last issue, as she came under attack by the forces of Hugo Strange and barely escaped with her life—but not before her friend Kevin was captured and taken to Strange’s sanctum of brainwashing. When we pick up with Harley this issue, she’s doing what she does best—avoid her problems with increasingly absurd moves. This issue, that includes playing Chess with a very confused Solomon Grundy. I like how Phillips is keeping just a bit of Harley’s trademark absurdity from the Palmiotti/Conner and Humphries run while still managing to tie her much more closely in with the main DCU. Meanwhile, poor Kevin is having much less fun, as we see what happens to those former “clowns” who wind up in Hugo Strange’s custody. Riley Rossmo has always delivered great art, but there’s a two-page spread this issue of Kevin’s illusions that may be the best art of the run.
Once Harley decides to take action and rescue her friend, the issue picks up quite a bit. Her inner monologue is always the funniest part of the series, and an anecdote this issue about a legendary magic trick had me cracking up. There’s a good amount of action and banter, and Harley is one of the few characters who can carry the dialogue of an issue basically singlehandedly. Once she’s actually in Strange’s lair, the issue becomes a bit more standard as we build to a last-page ambush and cliffhanger, but it’s another good issue. It seems like Phillips is effectively balancing Harley’s… unique worldview with the dystopian situation Gotham is finding itself in right now. I wish there was a little more of Harley driving her own story rather than responding to provocations from the Peacekeepers and Hugo Strange, but this is a solid first arc to an ongoing series and hopefully a long run.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.