Review: HARLEY QUINN #4
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colours: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Andworld Design
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Harley Quinn #4: I may be in the sewer, but you better get your mind outta the gutter! That rhymin’ zombie known as Solomon Grundy ain’t happy that I’m in his domain (but to be fair…it’s also Killer Croc’s domain too, there’s a lotta sewer dwellers in Gotham). Grundy’s either going to welcome me with open arms or crush me! And I can’t let that happen, ’cause Kevin’s at the mercy of Hugo Strange. Hugo’s going to do everything in his power to break Kevin and turn him against me, I hope in our brief time together, Kevin’s learned a little perseverance!
Last issue, Hugo Strange’s minions abducted Harley’s sidekick Kevin, as well as the members of Harley’s support group. Harley was forced to flee from the encounter and ran into Solomon Grundy. Although the previous issue’s cliffhanger hinted at a fight between her and Grundy, Harley Quinn #5 opens with an unexpected scenario instead.
The story opens with the two playing chess while Harley unloads on Grundy. The odd thing is that this seems to be helping her. Although Grundy’s responses are mostly him yelling his own name or “Born on a Monday!”, Harley interprets these as the things she actually needs to hear. She is essentially acting as her own therapist using Grundy as a proxy.
However, it appears that Grundy isn’t completely brain dead. There is a funny exchange where Harley states, “I’m no Batman, or Batgirl, or Batdog… or whoever else Bats is slapping his symbol on these days…”. Grundy’s response is to correct her grammar with a terse “Whomever”.
Meanwhile, Strange is attempting to undermine Kevin’s loyalty to Harley. Kevin attempts to resist, but then Hugo injects Kevin with a psychotropic drug. This raises the interesting possibility that by the time Harley rescues Kevin, that she may find he’s turned against her.
Harley regains her confidence and decides to channel her inner Batman to infiltrate Hugo Strange’s headquarters and rescue Kevin. Although, she remains self-aware enough to realize that she’s no Batman. But she doesn’t let that deter her from her mission.
There is another great moment when she manipulates the fears of Strange’s henchmen to get them to flee. She does this by tricking them into believing that Batman is present. It’s great to see her making use of psychological tricks as well as her physical fighting skills. The one thing I love about this series is that it emphasizes the fact that Harley is a trained psychologist. This side of Harley often gets ignored and I’m happy to see Stephanie Phillips bringing this side of the character to the forefront.
Riley Rossmo’s art is great on this series. His art style can seem somewhat out of place in some titles, but it perfectly fits this title. His art is great for showing us Gotham City through the eyes of a heroine that isn’t completely sane. And Rossmo did a fantastic job of illustrating Kevin’s drug-induced nightmare.
When I started reading this series, I expected that it would be an okay book. Quite possibly an entertaining read, but nothing remarkable. Thus, I felt it was inevitable that there would be aspects of the series that I didn’t like. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Four issues in, I am loving this series and am at a loss to find anything to complain about.
Harley Quinn #4 is another great issue from Stephanie Phillips and Riley Rossmo. I never expected that a Harley Quinn series would be one of my favourite comics, but this series is really proving to be something special. Hopefully Phillips can keep this momentum going as the series progresses.