Review – Harley Quinn #16: The Final Verdict

Comic Books DC This Week
Harley Quinn #16 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Harley Quinn #16 – Stephanie Phillips, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: Last issue threw us for a loop with the cliffhanger, which revealed that the quirky, purple-haired Sam—Kevin’s new girlfriend who he’s head-over-heels for—is actually the murderous vigilante Verdict. An elaborate flashback shows how she worked as a GCPD officer who was assigned to transport Harley to Arkham back when Harley was a Joker henchwoman. Harley’s past coming back to haunt her is nothing new, but what’s interesting here is that it wasn’t really Harley who was Sam’s start of darkness. The guards assigned to transporting Harley were corrupt, slipping Harley the key—and the ensuing escape killed Sam’s partner and severely injured her. When she found out about this, it sent her off the deep end to committing her first murder—and led to her deciding a whole lot more murders needed to happen. We’ve seen this kind of character before, but Phillips manages to give this version a few new twists.

Crash. via DC Comics.

What doesn’t quite work is that this all feels like sort of an odd turn for Sam’s character. I could buy that Sam was Verdict—we know relatively little about her, and everything is on the table—but I don’t quite buy that she was a GCPD officer. It doesn’t really seem to fit her character, and it also makes her seem older than she looked or acted until now. In lesser hands, this could have been a deal-breaker—but Phillips’ script makes her compellingly unhinged, especially in her conversations with Kevin. Riley Rossmo, who is leaving this title soon to take over as artist on a new Tim Drake title, infuses all the action scenes with a great kinetic energy and makes Verdict’s start of darkness feel genuinely creepy. There’s one more issue in this story, as Harley and the unmasked Verdict face off. It’s a good storyline, but I’m sort of looking forward to Harley’s adventures getting more bizarre as she blasts off into space.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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