REVIEW: ‘Harley Quinn,’ Issue #14

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Harley Quinn #14

Harley Quinn #14 is published by DC Comics and written by Stephanie Phillips, with art by Riley Rossmo, colours by Ivan Plascencia, and letters by Andworld Design. In the last issue, Harley Quinn was framed for murder by Verdict and arrested. In this issue, Harley struggles being back inside, especially when some of her friends believe she may not be innocent after all. 

The structure of the issue is fantastic. There is a long cold open that implies a larger mystery than what we’ve seen so far, as well as the addition of a brilliant guest star. From there, the comic’s pace is slow but expertly written, as Harley’s experience in prison starts getting worse. Many little sub-plots are forming within Harley Quinn #14, with Phillips weaving them together expertly. The themes discussed are incredibly mature and subtle. The merging of Harley’s hyperactive energy and humour makes this book one of the most layered out there. The prison story is pressurized, building in intensity until it erupts in a delightful battle. The guest star was a surprise, but perhaps the final part of the comic wasn’t as unexpected due to their earlier inclusion.

This is yet another issue that showcases the brilliance of Phillips’ script and characters. Every single one of them has agency and a brilliant personality. Harley’s time in prison is fascinating, as this is the first time she is in jail as a hero. The extremes in her personality are on display, from profound isolation and silence to violent rage to giddy excitement. Quinn is a character that makes you fall in love with her, making the emotional rollercoaster so much more impactful. 

The conversation between her and Kevin is soul-crushing and gorgeously written. Harley has been relying on her friends all this time, so the pain of them not believing her is brutal. Similarly, the relationship between Kevin and his new girlfriend, Sam, is full of depth. Their scene begins adorable and ends unsettling, displaying the progression this comic is capable of.

The art is remarkable. The rooms are small and cramped, adding to the claustrophobia and increasing the tension. Harley’s costume is fantastic, an example of yet another excellent design by this artist. Not just that, but all of the other inmates in Blackgate have their own individual looks. They hang around Quinn, taunting her and cramping her. There is a fight scene that is incredible in its execution. The panel layouts are as creative as ever, and the depiction of movement is chaotic. 

One of the cutest aspects of the art in this issue is these small cartoons that occasionally appear around Harley. They show her thoughts, from characterizations of her friends or ideas of what she wants to do to certain people. 

The colours are stunning. Like with the previous issues in the story, the prison is murky and dark. Even areas like apartments are unappealing in their shades. But it is the people that live in this city who are the colourful ones. The pink hallucinations and the orange prison uniforms are very eyecatching, and although they may clash sometimes, I think that is part of the book’s charm.

The lettering alternates between being uniform in the word balloons and cartoony in the SFX, matching this comic’s potential chaos.

Harley Quinn #14 is a beautiful character issue. This comic truly makes you feel for the characters. There are some immense fun and inventive fight scenes but also poignant and powerful dialogue. The actual writing of the book and the variety of what is on the pages are representative of the layers of Harley herself. And this art style has a soul of its own.

Harley Quinn #14 is available where ever comics are sold.


Harley Quinn #14
5

TL;DR

Harley Quinn #14 is a beautiful character issue. This comic truly makes you feel for the characters. There are some immense fun and inventive fight scenes but also poignant and powerful dialogue.