Review: HARLEY QUINN #11
[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 #11: A train leaves for Gotham at eight p.m. averaging 80 miles per hour, carrying one very dramatic villain named Keepsake, a bomb strapped to the engine, and me…Harley Quinn! One track leads straight to Gotham Central Station, where hundreds of lives are at risk, but the other track…that one leads to my best friend and sidekick, Kevin. Sacrifice the one to save the many? I hate that Philosophy 101 crap, and I’m really starting to hate trains.
Last issue, we saw Keepsake abduct Kevin, and now in Harley Quinn #11, Harley confronts Keepsake to rescue Kevin. However, the villain has posed a classic ethical dilemma for Harley. Keepsake has placed Harley along with a bomb on a train and presented Harley with a lever. Turning the lever one way sends the train towards a crowded train station in central Gotham. The other way diverts the train away from the station, but Kevin is tied to the tracks along that route.
I love how Harley shows both her education and her crass humour simultaneously in her response to Keepsake’s dilemma: “I Kant even…don’t be such a Kant, Keepsake”. This refers to the German philosopher, who originally dreamt up this ethical dilemma. The reference goes over Keepsakes head, until Harley breaks it down for the villain. One thing I love about Stephanie Phillips’ interpretation of Harley is the frequent reminders that Harley is a highly intelligent and well-educated woman.
Harley makes the choice to save the most lives by directing the train towards Kevin. But she clearly understands that she is risking Kevin’s death. As she pulls the lever, she says, “I’m so sorry, Kevin…”. The issue ends on this cliffhanger, so we will have to wait until next issue to find out if Harley can succeed in saving herself and Kevin.
We also see that Harley has established a support group for the former members of Keepsake’s Caucus of Corruption. It’s great to see Harley assisting them in overcoming the aftereffects of Keepsake’s brainwashing. I really like the idea that Harley goes further than merely defeating the villains, unlike most other heroes.
I love Riley Rossmo’s art on this series. Rossmo’s art style is an odd fit for a superhero comic, but it fits a Harley Quinn title perfectly. With Harley’s tenuous hold on sanity, she has a decidedly off-kilter view of reality. And Rossmo’s artistic style aptly conveys reality as Harley sees it.
It’s not really an issue for me yet, but I have noticed that there isn’t a large variety of villains in the series so far. Mostly it’s been Hugo Strange and Keepsake – especially the latter. While I don’t think he’s worn out his welcome quite yet, but I’d kind of like to see more variety in the foes Harley faces. Some new villains would be a nice change.
Harley Quinn was never a title that I took much notice of in its previous iterations. But Stephanie Phillips’ unique take on the character has become one of my favourite titles . It has also made me reassess the character, finding more depth in Harley than I thought the character possessed. Hopefully, she will be able to maintain this level of excellence.