Review: HARLEY QUINN #7
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colours: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Deron Bennett
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Harley Quinn #7: Heya, folks, Harley Quinn here! In case you all haven’t noticed…things have been a little wild lately. Hugo Strange, out-of-control orderlies, kidnapped clowns, and a new villain named Keepsake…it’s a lot for any former villain turned antihero turned real hero with impeccable fashion sense to handle. I’m talkin’ about ME if that wasn’t clear. With all the Fear State happening in Gotham, I thought it would be a good time to go on a little camping trip. But, turns out, Gotham is gonna be Gotham…Keepsake’s forming a new army, Hugo’s playin’ dress-up, and the city is literally tearing itself apart. This looks like a job for Harley Quinn, Kevin, and…the Gardener? Oh yeah, Bella’s in this one, too! I just love her little plant dogs!
As the cover of Harley Quinn #7 declares, this is a tie-in issue to the Fear State event in the Batman family of titles. The subplots indicate what Hugo Strange and Keepsake’s plans are during the Scarecrow’s assault on Gotham City. But the main story is more of a prelude to Harley’s own part in the event.
Keepsake had indicated in the 2021 annual that his gimmick isn’t just stolen weaponry. In this issue, we find out what he meant by that, as he introduces his team of ersatz Batman rogues to help him take the Joker’s place as Gotham’s number one villain. But Hugo Strange convinces him to go after Poison Ivy, promising that Ivy is the key to controlling Gotham.
And what is Hugo doing himself while the city’s under siege? He’s up to his old tricks, running around the city in a Batman costume. But he hints at his own plans for Gotham, stating: “With my help, the city will only fear the heroes they have left… and Keepsake and Harley Quinn will lead me right to Poison Ivy.
Meanwhile, Harley’s unfruitful camping retreat for her support group is cut short when the Gardener arrives with the news that she’s located Poison Ivy. Harley, Keepsake, and Hugo Strange are now on a collision course as they all converge on Ivy. And it’s been established in the Batman books that Ivy is in a position to devastate Gotham, so that collision could be disastrous.
I have to mention that I love the humor that Stephanie Phillips puts into this title. I especially liked the literary reference invoked when Harley encounters an angry bear and flees, shouting, “…Exit pursued by bear!”. This is an actual stage direction in the Shakespeare play The Winter’s Tale.
I was happy to see Riley Rossmo’s return as the artist for this issue. While the guest artists did a fine job, Rossmo’s art is uniquely suited to the offbeat tone of the title. Rossmo does a fantastic job of capturing Harley’s wonky worldview.
Crossover events can interfere with a writer’s ongoing story, sometimes derailing it completely. However, Phillips seems to be using the event to forward her own story, rather than letting Fear State disrupt her own narrative. Hopefully, she will be able to continue to keep it in line with the Fear State story without having to compromise her own.
While I never hated Harley Quinn, I never really thought she was a particularly great character either. But between this series and the hilarious cartoon, Harley is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. Phillips and Rossmo are producing a pretty good title that’s a hell of a lot of fun.