Harley Quinn #5 – Stephanie Phillips, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: As good as this run has been, it hasn’t been nearly as funny as the Harley runs before it. That’s mostly because the subject matter—Harley in a Gotham under siege, facing villains with official power and an anti-clown atmosphere—is actually much darker than her usual fare. But this issue, writer Stephanie Phillips finally gets to show off her comedy chops, and she delivers. And all it took was Harley being psychoanalyzed by a supervillain. Hugo Strange has been an interesting choice for a villain for this run—being basically a perfect counterbalance to Harley as another supervillain psychologist and one almost as obsessed with Batman as she was with Joker. That means that as he tries to break down Harley, she has all the tools she needs to break him down right back. The first half of this issue is an engaging, dialogue-heavy back and forth that delivers some of the series’ best lines.
Once she escapes, things get a little more conventional, but the fast pace and snappy dialogue continues. She escapes using that oldest trick—convincing the captor she needs to use the bathroom. Courtesy of a rather gross fail-safe, she’s able to tear through the facility and get her friend Kevin out of captivity—as well as bring Solomon Grundy in to tear through some abusive guards. It’s a chaotic escape with some fun action scenes, but it doesn’t break any new ground. I did like that we get to see a little more of Hugo Strange’s side of the battle, including who he’s working with—an intriguing new villain with an obsession of his own and a unique design. This isn’t like any of the last few Harley runs, which were pure chaos unleashed. But this is a Harley that feels like she exists in this new Gotham, and for the first time in a long time she feels like she’s a real player in the world of Batman and his villains.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.