Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red #8
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist: Marguerite Sauvage
Letters: Andworld Design
Reviewed by: Seth Singleton
Hammering fans weekly with Harley Quinn stories in the vein of Batman: Black & White, the eighth chapter of Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red has arrived! Emmy Award-nominee Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Marguerite Sauvage take Harley on a train ride to hell. In this case Coney Island. It’s the eighth installment of the fourteen-chapter anthology series. In the end, it’s always about what’s waiting at the “End of the Line.”
Sometimes falling asleep can be a good thing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between being asleep and being awake. Harley’s dream-like state introduces a truly disorienting and confusing journey. It starts on the New York subway after business hours. Harley’s personality is the same whether she is asleep or conscious. The difference, in this case, comes from who she is interacting with on the subway cars.
Subway pirates are only the beginning of Quinn’s journey. Here, she must wade through a Warriors-influenced parade of roving gangs. Likewise, each claims that they are in charge of the subway. The only way around them is to go right through. Harley plays these chumps like a sideways-scrolling video game and even tells a few hapless attackers that she’ll break through the fourth-wall if they don’t get out of the way.
The choices regarding the use of red in this issue are brilliant. From red outlines on Harley to glaring red displays on the subway ads to the clicking of smartphone keys, shades of the color draw the eye. Sometimes it’s to elicit a reaction or to highlight the overwhelming presence of a crowd or the passing view of Coney Island.
Amos is a great stand-in for the Wizard of Oz. Harley’s headlong charge from subway car to subway car is spurred by the knowledge that only Amos can stop the train. The surprise in this instance is that Amos is only part of the solution. Harley’s ability to take matters into her own hands is the only way this gauntlet will come to an end.
Fans of The Warriors and other classic stories might be put off by the use of myths and pop culture as source material for this issue. For the most part, they would do well to avoid this issue and read something like a dictionary.
Harley + Black + White + Red #8 is a wonderful mashup of classic and not-so-classic tropes. From the “Is this a dream?” to the “Twelve Labours of Hercules” and the aforementioned destination of the Yellow Brick Road, “End of the Line” plops Harley into a surreal world of myth and legend. Everyone knows that another world awakens when the sun goes down, but what really happens can only be explained by those who experience it.
To begin with, Daniel Kibblesmith does a masterful job of creating original dialogue, fresh perspectives, and scripted scenes. Likewise, Marguerite Sauvage executes with pinpoint-perfect pencils. Hence, there is nothing more enjoyable than synchronicity that looks both seamless and singular. Together with figure skaters doubles tennis teams, and great ballroom dancers, Sauvage and Kibblesmith are a pairing that fans will be delighted to behold.