Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Harley Quinn #6 Review

Same Writer, Different Artist. Will It Be Enough To Turn This Title Around?

Written By: Stephanie Phillips
Art By: Laura Braga
Colors By: Arif Prianto
Letters By: Andworld Design
Cover Art By: Riley Rossmo
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 24, 2021

In Harley Quinn #6, Harley is on the prowl for the manufacturing facility making Hugo Strange's experimental drug. The path leads straight to Alleytown, but Catwoman is not too pleased with visitors clowning around on her home turf.

Was It Good?

It's no secret I've been unforgiving on this title since day one, and deservedly so. Phillips's writing has been silly and goofy in a way that lowers Harley as a character rather than building her up into whatever DC eventually wants her to be. Riley Rossmo's art experiment is at least bold and energetic, but it has all the gravity and finesse of a Looney Tunes cartoon. When you put those components together, the results are unsurprising.

Here, we get a new artist on the title, Laura Braga, and an opportunity to see if a shakeup in the creative team gets the title back on track. It doesn't.

Credit where credit's due. Braga's linework coupled with Prianto's colors together makes a gorgeous-looking collection of panels. On the visual look of the characters and the scenery, this issue is magnitudes better than all previous issues combined. Some may argue Rossmo's unique style made the series "different," however, "different" doesn't mean good or better. Braga's style is definitely more in line with a typical DC house style book but at least it's not offputting.

While the style of the art is much improved, the action and the character movements are stiff as a board. I may have not been a fan of Rossmo's aesthetic, but you couldn't argue his work didn't have energy. Braga's art looks great for portraiture and snapshots of facial expression, but the action lacks energy or, in a few panels, movement logic. There's one scene where Catwoman is fighting a brute using her whip and the sequence of events (where the characters are standing, the direction of the motion of the whip, how the characters switch positions) makes no earthly sense.

As for Phillips's writing, the same troubles plaguing this series persist. As of issue #6, there's no rhyme or reason why Mayor Nakano put Hugo Strange in charge of S.A.F.E., we don't know what Strange is doing with his experiment, we don't know why Keepsake is milling around, and now Scarecrow shows up to tie into Fear State. Nothing ties together or makes sense as a cohesive story.

On top of the lack of a cohesive story, Phillips (working with Braga) continues the trend of Harley and Catwoman acting as if they were secretly taking Venom. They perform feats of strength and acrobatics that are impossible, even in comics, for a human. There's one panel where Catwoman is dangling a man over the edge of a building from the end of her whip with one hand, wrist and arm pointed upward as if she was holding something no heavier than a cup of tea. So not only is the artwork stiff, but how the scenes play out is silly, and not in an amusing way.

And that's the main problem. If you're going to have silly stories and silly action, what's the point if it's not going to be amusing.

Bits and Pieces

Harley Quinn #6 finds a new artist to improve the visual style of the book, but the reset is only half successful. The story is barely held together with scotch tape and dental floss, and the action makes no sense. I don't like being negative on a title to dunk or roast, but man, oh, man DC, what are you doing with this title?!?


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