REVIEW: ‘Harley Quinn,’ Issue #16

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Harley Quinn #16 - But Why Tho

Harley Quinn #16 is published by DC Comics, written by Stephanie Phillips, art by Riley Roosmo, colours by Ivan Plascencia and letters by Andworld Design. In the last issue, as Harley escaped from prison, it was revealed that Verdict was Sam, Kevin’s girlfriend. In this issue, Sam explains why she has so much hatred for Harley.

This is an issue with an excellent structure. It is not singularly set within the same point in time, as flashbacks are used frequently. This is how the comic starts, jumping far into the past to when Harley was not the hero she is today. This history has been heavily influencing the stories within this run, but they have not always been explored. Here it is introduced with that stark brutality that can be found in Phillip’s writing sometimes. And among the humour is sudden and powerful shock. There is still the story in the present as Kevin struggles with the news. There are the trademark chaotic fight scenes included in Harley Quinn #16, but with this issue, the consequences of them are so much more extreme. The tone of this comic seems much darker and more severe than anything that has come before.

Phillips’ exploration of the characters is fantastic in this issue as it does something that hasn’t quite been done before in the series. It reminds us of the fact that most of the characters in the book have done awful things and worked alongside the worst people. Even when trying to present one figure in a sympathetic light, one of their final moments is a violent act of revenge. The issue lacks Harley’s narration, largely because she isn’t it very much at all within the present story. And when she does arrive, it is so evident the change in atmosphere her involvement brings to a comic. That palpable feeling of anger and unease provides intense strength to the comic. Even Kevin, a man who is nothing but positivity and warmth, is reminded of his dark past. 

The art in this comic is incredible. The location of the present-day part of the issue is perfectly chosen. It is set inside a small apartment, incredibly cramped and claustrophobic. This increases the tension within it, not providing room for escape at all. Rossmo also has an incredibly clever method of presenting something in the past, especially with this character. We see Harley in her classic jester costume, the distinct sign of her time with the Joker, and Rosmo’s version of it is fascinating. The fight scenes are constantly entertaining. The artist breaks the rule of only showing one moment of time within a single panel for Harley, often showing her in multiple places at once. But this brilliantly demonstrates her eccentricity and energy that is more vibrant than anyone else’s in the room. The flashback is among the grimmest and most harrowing scenes in the series so far, with Rossmo not pulling any punches.

The colours are incredible. There is often a general filter that covers the whole page, deeply affecting the mood of the scene. In the apartment, the lighting is very dim, with a blue tint to the panels that indicates there are very few opportunities for brightness in the moment. During the truly dramatic part of the flashback. There is a blend of a dirty red and brown in the sky, enriching the very dark moment. The lettering is great and is synonymous with this comic at this point.

Harley Quinn #16 is one of the heaviest issues of the series so far. That energy and humour are still there, but this is an incredibly traumatic and emotional comic. It is a brutal and honest reminder of the past that our heroes stem from, with neither the writer nor the artist sparing any grizzly details about the history of these characters. It is a clever callback to the start of the series, where it was made clear that Harley is not a perfect person, trying to make amends to those that she had wronged. Except what she has to amend for may be huge.

Harley Quinn #16 is available where comics are sold.


Harley Quinn #16
5

TL;DR

Harley Quinn #16 is one of the heaviest issues of the series so far. That energy and humour are still there, but this is an incredibly traumatic and emotional comic. It is a brutal and honest reminder of the past that our heroes stem from, with neither the writer nor the artist sparing any grizzly details about the history of these characters. It is a clever callback to the start of the series, where it was made clear that Harley is not a perfect person, trying to make amends to those that she had wronged. Except what she has to amend for may be huge.

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