REVIEW: ‘Harley Quinn,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Harley Quinn #4Harley Quinn #4 is published by DC Comics. The writer is Stephanie Phillips and the art is by Riley Rossmo. The colourist is Ivan Plascencia and letters are provided by Andworld Design. Harley Quinn returned to Gotham, trying to make peace with those she has hurt over her time as both hero and villain. She finds purpose in helping the clowns of the city, their reputation ruined during the Joker War. She rescues and befriends Kevin, one of Joker’s ex-henchman, who joins her in her quest. At the same time, Hugo Strange is also trying to change the clowns, but with more chemicals and torture. In the last issue, Strange kidnapped Kevin, whilst Harley found herself in the sewers, with Solomon Grundy looming over her…

Within this issue, the confrontation between Harley and Grundy plays out. During their intense battle, Harley has a therapy session with herself. Leaving the sewers, she sets out on a mission: infiltrate Strange’s laboratory and rescue her friend Kevin. Her new friend finds himself as Strange’s next target.

The plot continues with the same intense energy as the other issues. It doesn’t move too quickly, but there is rampant chaos happening constantly. The comic opens with a twist, taking the Grundy encounter going down a route that most of the readers would not have seen coming. Phillips again uses a general lightness of the broad plot to be undercut with truly meaningful and emotive scenes, where there are dark notions laced within. The second half of the issue brings a lot of action with it, which is structured well and full of eclectic moments. 

The dialogue shines yet again within Harley Quinn #4, used to propel heaps of character development. The writer’s exploration of the title character is beautiful and sad and hilarious all weaved into their spoken dialogue and the caption boxes too. There are moments when the fourth wall is smashed with a giant hammer and it is brilliantly crafted. Strange has a villainous monologue that is dripping with menace, whilst Kevin’s heartwarming devotion to those he loves brings incredibly refreshing positivity to the comic. 

The art continues to be superb. Rossmo’s panel layouts will forever be mindblowing in their inventive nature. They are always tilted and shifting, even more so when there are fight scenes. It is still clear to see what is happening in the pages, but the artist has managed to make a comic book as kinetic as physically possible. Harley is incredibly expressive, with brilliant smiles and frowns on her face depending on her mood. Rossmo also has delectable comic awareness, with many of the greatest gags being visual. There is also a great use of scale inside this comic. Harley is much, much smaller than many of the other main characters inside this issue. Kevin, Grundy, Strange all tower over her. But it is her personality that provides her with a presence.

The colours are glorious. It was mentioned in previous reviews that the Gotham has seemed dingy and gloomy for the most part, with Harley being the most colourful part of the page. But as she is starting to come to terms with who she is, this vibrancy appears to be spreading around her. The backgrounds seem brighter and more cheerful. As she enters Strange’s lab, the hue of the rooms change, hinting at a progression through the levels.

The lettering is terrific. Andworld design ensures that whilst there is a lot happening on every page of the issue, with diagonal panels and constant movement, the word balloons are easy to read and easy to follow. 

Harley Quinn #4 is a stunning book. This is a gorgeous exploration of the character, with Phillips providing Quinn with a Multiverse of dimensions. There is a deep maturity to the discussions had inside these pages, which contrasts superbly with the silliness of the rest of it. The characters all feel big and energetic, and the art gives the comic a unique look that makes it stand out against anything else currently available. This is a celebration of who Harley Quinn is, as she finds out who she is.

Harley Quinn #4 is available where comics are sold.

Harley Quinn #4
5

TL;DR

Harley Quinn #4 is a stunning book. This is a gorgeous exploration of the character, with Phillips providing Quinn with a Multiverse of dimensions. There is a deep maturity to the discussions had inside these pages, which contrasts superbly with the silliness of the rest of it. The characters all feel big and energetic, and the art gives the comic a unique look that makes it stand out against anything else currently available. This is a celebration of who Harley Quinn is, as she finds out who she is.