Harley Quinn #17 is published by DC Comics, written by Stephanie Phillips, art by Riley Rossmo, colours by Ivan Plascencia, and letters by Andworld Design. Last issue, Harley and Kevin discovered that the latter’s girlfriend Sam was actually Verdict. In this issue, the duo tries to recover as Verdict enacts one last desperate plan.
This is a heavy issue, yet Phillips still tries to start on a positive note. A dream sequence, entirely imagined, sets up a theme and energy for the rest of the comic. But the writer is also leaving subtle details about Harley’s martial arts training in a gorgeous piece of character development. There is a long period of reflection after that where the two friends try to rebuild their friendship. The tone is balanced perfectly before the chaotic final act. All of the situations used as a last showdown for the villains are action-movie situations with a Harley twist. There is meaningful storytelling and badass battles all rolled into one. As another arc comes to a close the ending is sweet and full of importance. But then comes a nice hint for what is yet to come.
Whilst there have been other excellent characters involved in this series, Phillips has always ensured that the friendship between Harley and Kevin has been the core relationship throughout. It is both the beating heart and the soul of this series, painfully fractured due to Verdict disrupting their connection. The conversation they have is so touching and stunningly written, feeling like an eloquent discussion and natural dialogue. Verdict is a character with depth and weight and a story that is understandable until she takes it too far. And the supporting cast for this arc has also been spectacular. Batwoman has been a great additional superhero, with a presence that never feels invasive to Harley’s spotlight. This is a comic that operates on both love and hurt at the same time, which makes both so much stronger.
The art is incredible. The mood in the scene is set by Rossmo. The dream sequence is energetic and positive, cheerful in tone. But then that changes quickly when Harley wakes up. The artist is just as comfortable in the quiet moments as they are when it’s loud. But even the pages filled with dialogue have a brilliant variety of panels as characters move around. Something that may not have been mentioned in other reviews is how Harley’s size is used. She is presented as rather little, which makes her energy even more expressive. Her height is only really noticeable next to others, and this spacial relationship is fascinating. Where her limbs and hair are all over the place, Batwoman is shown as straight and poised. Verdict’s costume is simply superb. It’s really unique and bold. The final fight scene is a great example of the fast-paced action that Rossmo is now known for.
The colours are also stunning. Verdict’s cloak is particularly striking, with the rich red captivating to see. Most of the characters in this issue are colourful in their designs and they are mostly what brings positivity to the dingy and dark Gotham. The affectations that are added by Rossmo, such as stars or love hearts, are also extravagantly coloured. The lettering is really easy to read.
Harley Quinn #17 is a heartfelt end to an arc. It seeks to try and patch up the pain that has been felt throughout the arc whilst also forcing the characters to go through more. And it seems like a love letter to both Rossmo and Plascencia is absolutely warranted. This is their last issue on the series, and it is very difficult to ascertain just how pivotal they have been to this story. Phillips is a sensational writer who has helped Harley find her voice. But Rossmo and Plascencia have been integral to building this world. The unique shapes for each character, the chaotic fight scenes, the panel layouts that are never straight have become a signature of this book. It’s been a team that has truly helped make this comic my favourite to read and cover. When this artistic duo has not been in the book it has not felt right, and it will certainly take some time to adjust going forward. They will definitely be missed.
Harley Quinn #17 is available where comics are sold.
Harley Quinn #17
Harley Quinn #17 is a heartfelt end to an arc. It seeks to try and patch up the pain that has been felt throughout the arc whilst also forcing the characters to go through more.