REVIEW: ‘Harley Quinn,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Harley Quinn #3

Harley Quinn #3 is published by DC Comics. Written by Stephanie Phillips with art by Riley Rossmo. The color artist is Ivan Plascencia, and the letters are by Andworld Design. Here, Harley has moved back to Gotham with a mission to make amends with many of those that she has done wrong. After the Joker War, the city’s attitude towards clowns is at an all-time low. Clowns are being attacked and abused, leading Harley to declare them under her protection. With the help of new friend Kevin, she sets out trying to change the public perception of the jesters. But another figure seeks to change the clowns too: the psychiatrist Hugo Strange.

The plot continues very soon after the last issue, but some time has still passed for Harley’s new idea to have been developed. There is a cold open featuring Hugo Strange and his machinations before he sends his minions after our protagonist. This creates an expectation within the reader that something will happen that Harley isn’t aware of. This tension builds with the slow pace that comes with half of the issue. There is a lot of conversation, but the reader never gets bored because they know something is about to happen. After the reveal, Harley Quinn #3 erupts into beautiful chaos. The pace is a frantic fight scene involving moving vehicles and incredible action. This culminates in a very surprising character reveal that was unexpected.

The plot is interesting, but what has really made this comic shine is the characters and the relationships between them. Phillips has created a brilliant partnership between Harley and Kevin, one that is refreshing and hilarious. Harley has often been around other characters that seek to degrade or hurt her, but Kevin is the opposite. He is a bumbling but sweet friend who will match her jokes and give her someone to bounce off of. 

Strange is also a brilliant antagonist for the series, as it pits two very different versions of the same profession. Both are psychiatrists but have incredibly contrasting methods for dealing with the same problem. Psychology is a strong theme within this series, and the writer uses these characters to explore it fantastically.

The dialogue is sensational and has multiple facets to it. Much of it is superbly funny. The conversation between Harley and Kenny at the Clowns’ Anonymous meeting is beautifully scripted. It is wholesome and witty with some terrific punchlines. But there are also emotionally charged scenes with poignant commentary. Phillips presents voices that have a very natural feel, as characters sometimes take two or three tries to really say what they intended as if the words fail them by the end of the sentence. 

Perhaps the best part of the script comes from the caption boxes. The writer chooses a particular word that is then incorporated throughout the entirety of the captions as a theme. This is a genius idea, and the execution of it is stunning. The captions are eloquent and poetic. 

The art within Harley Quinn #3 is as fantastic as the writing. Rossmo is the perfect partner for Phillips, matching the energy of the script within the line art. The artist captures the size of characters really well, using body shapes that are rarely used within comics. Each clown in the circle during the Clowns’ Anonymous meeting is a different size, resulting in their designs being truly individual. Even existing characters such as Strange have exaggerated proportions that are fun to see. 

The fight scenes are extraordinary. There is so much chaos within each panel. The lines project the illusion of motion blur so that everything appears to be moving fast. The panel layout during the combat is constantly changing and tilting, making the readers’ eyes dart everywhere to absorb the manic battle truly. There is a fine balance between slapstick and violence as Harley unleashes her fighting style on those around her. The car chases really give off the sensation of high speed. 

The colors are really interesting. Apart from Harley, who is vibrant with the red on her costume, the other shades of the city and characters are dulled. Nothing about their clothes or hair stands out, which is intentional by Plascencia. If clowns are being attacked and disappearing, then their energy is also depleted. Others are in hiding, so choose the darkest outfits to wear. This is beautiful world-building based purely on colors.

The lettering is superb, especially the SFX. There are times where the SFX letters are used as the panels themselves, which is likely a design choice by Rossmo. However, the smaller sound effects are used frequently and important within action-packed comics such as this one.

Harley Quinn #3 is another energetic delight. There are layers within this comic that leave the reader wanting to go back and find more. This is a fun and humorous book, but there are sad scenes that show just how in-depth Harley is as a character within her own series. Phillips explores every aspect of her personality; the clown, the tortured soul; the friend; the fighter; the psychiatrist. The art style gives the comic a unique world to live in that compliments the title character beautifully.

Harley Quinn #3 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

Harley Quinn #3
5

TL;DR

Harley Quinn #3 is another energetic delight. There are layers within this comic that leave the reader wanting to go back and find more. This is a fun and humorous book, but there are sad scenes that show just how in-depth Harley is as a character within her own series. Phillips explores every aspect of her personality; the clown, the tortured soul; the friend; the fighter; the psychiatrist. The art style gives the comic a unique world to live in that compliments the title character beautifully.