Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Harley Quinn #13 Review

Work for the GCPD -No Brains Required!

Written by: Stephani Phillips
Art by: Riley Rossmo, Jay Leisten
Colors by: Ivan Plascencia
Letters by: Andworld Design
Cover art by: Riley Rossmo
Cover price: $3.99
Release Date: March 22, 2022

Harley Quinn #13 starts an entirely new arc for the (sort of) reformed criminal by having her steal food trucks to feed the hungry.  Meanwhile, a vigilante killer frames Harley for a series of gangland killings.

Was It Good?

Well, well, well.  So here we are again, my fine Weirdos.  It's time to take another crack at DC's Clown Princess of Crime.

After enjoying the start of Stephanie Phillips's run, I have not been on the trolly (or exploding train, if you will) for some time now.  I was not too fond of the ending to the last arc, and while some to offense to that, I am back again and ready for things to hopefully get better.
Well?  Is this issue any better?   Thankfully, it is better.  Not great, but better.

One of the improvements is in the art department.  As you can see from the credits above, Jay Leisten is on inks in this issue, and the results are noticeable.  Character designs, particularly Harley, still have an oddly distorted, funhouse mirror quality Rossmo seems to delight in, but the exaggeration is toned down significantly.  The backgrounds look better, the character anatomy looks more sensible, and the overall visuals are relaxed.  The faces are trademarked Rossmo style, but everything around the faces is far less distracting.

As for the story, some Spoilers Ahead

Everything related to Keepsake, the Magistrate, and Harley's attempt to create a "former clown" support group is gone.  I understand that this is a new arc, but I was hoping some of those elements would at least be referenced here.  Hopefully, they aren't just left behind.

Harley (with Kevin's help) has turned to a life of carjacking (truck jacking?) food trucks from restaurants that would have otherwise thrown their leftover food away so she could deliver the food to food banks and homeless shelters. 

From a Robin Hood point of view, it's an admirable goal, but any attempts to be a hero and keep on Batman's good side are suddenly pushed aside.  I understand that even when Harley is trying to do the right thing, it gets a little wonky, but here, Harley doesn't seem concerned if what she is doing is illegal or whether people get hurt or not.  

This problem plagues Phillips's writing with the character since Future State - she can't figure out what Harley she wants to write.  You can take it as a split-personality or even an attention span thing, but it's hard to put your thumb on what Harley is all about as a reader from issue to issue.

The biggest problem here, though, is the plot.  We open with some gangsters meeting in a local restaurant.  Unfortunately, the meeting goes poorly when a person wearing a Harley Quinn mask crashes the party.  She kills every gangster there, ending the fun by removing the eyes of the lead gangster with a melon-baller.
Why on Earth would the GCPD conclude Harley is the killer when this killer has been taking out baddies for weeks and removing eyes as a calling card (something Harley has never done) and forensics and police find a Harley Quinn mask at the crime scene?!?  The police have every reason to believe the killer was disguised as Harley but still decide the killer WAS Harley!

You have to laugh at this point.  Phillips is either trying to portray the GCPD as so monumentally stupid they jump to believing Harley would kill a room full of gangsters wearing a mask to look like herself(?!?) and then leave it behind, or Phillips just didn't put much thought into it.

Forced or not, it feels like Phillips needs Harley to go to jail to continue her story because, of course, Harley's arrested and thrown in prison, and we can look forward to Orange Is The New (Red And) Black: The Harley Edition.  After all of this, Harley in prison may lead to some wacky fun, at least. 

Side Note: Recently, a creator spoke out against one of our reviews.  It's pretty easy to figure out who it was and what book we are talking about here...  Seriously, I have no problem with them speaking up, and in fact, I expect and like when creators stand up for their work. It shows they care and are passionate about what they do! However, when a creator tries to rally their troops with broad stroke statements about our site and claims that the reviews are more than just reviews, but a sort of "Gate Keeping," I get angry!

Let's get a few things straight here.  Everyone writing for this site loves comic books and are fans of DC Comics.  However, this is not a fan site.  Weird Science DC Comics is a review site.  We are not here to dish out free PR for DC or its creators.  We are here to give our honest opinions on the comics each week.  Let me stress the "our opinions" here.  These are OUR OPINIONS!  You don't have to agree with everything (or anything) we say.  It's up to you to decide what you like or dislike, what you buy or don't buy.  I find it funny that a creator thinks so little of their audience that they believe they can be swayed by one review, but I'll take that as a backdoor compliment.  However, when they start pushing things that feel like not-so-veiled censorship demands, I think they (and a bunch of others who jumped in) have gone too far. A lot of creators push for free speech until that free speech is negative towards them and I find that hypocritical to say the least! Overall, I think that comic book creators have gotten so comfortable being coddled by the "comic book press" that they live in a weird bubble where a 7/10 is considered an awful score!

If this doesn't ring true for you, or you want comic reviews that seem to only deal with scores between the 8-10 range, there are plenty of other sites you can visit.  However, if you keep reading our reviews, know that we aren't here to get a seat at any table or make BFFs.  We also aren't "negative for negative sake" to get those elusive "clicks."  We are here to review comics because we love them and will continue to do so in as honest a way possible.  - Jim

Bits and Pieces

Harley Quinn #13 slightly improves over the last few issues with improved art and a cliffhanger that could lead to some fun.  Unfortunately, the journey from the first page to the cliffhanger requires the reader to believe everyone around Harley is incompetent.  But, at least, Phillips is consistent.


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