Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Harley Quinn #16 Review

Written by: Stephanie Phillips
Art by: Riley Rossmo
Colors by: Ivan Plascencia
Letters by: Andworld Design
Cover art by: Riley Rossmo
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: June 27, 2022

Harley Quinn #16 takes readers on a trip down memory learn to learn the truth behind Verdict's origins and how Sam's evolution into a lethal vigilante all started with Harley Quinn.

Was It Good?

Not bad. Harley Quinn #16 is not bad, and in truth, one of the better issues of the series.

Surprising absolutely nobody, readers received confirmation in the last issue that Sam was actually Verdict. While the down point of the issue was the utter lack of surprise surrounding the reveal, it still makes for powerful emotional conflict for Kevin, the standout character of the series.

The high point of this issue is Kevin's painful conflict over learning Verdict's true identity and how that puts him in the middle of a blood feud between his girlfriend (Sam) and his best friend (Harley). Although we're not particularly keen on Rossmo's art style, he deserves credit for depicting a heartbreaking range of emotion from Kevin when he realizes what Sam's done and the struggle he feels when he tries to tell Harley after her arrival. As much as this issue is almost all flashbacks to explain Verdict's origin story, the winner (again) is Kevin.

Verdict's origin is decently imagined and decently told. Readers are reminded quite clearly that Harley is not a hero or an anti-hero, but a cold-blooded killer when circumstances call for it. Verdict in effect is a side-effect of what happens when a regular person suffers through one bad day, and Sam's switch from good cop to lethal vigilante makes sense in context when her entire worldview is broken.

There are two down points in this issue that may or may not affect your buying choices. First, Rossmo's art simply doesn't fit the serious dramatic tone of the story. If Rossmo's style is growing on you, more power to you. But Phillips finally delivers a story with dramatic weight, and looking at those moments through Rossmo's funhouse mirror caricatures is a letdown.

The second down point isn't a surprise, but it is an odd conundrum to solve - it's Harley. I suspect the reason this issue turned out so well is that Harley is barely in it, and when she is present, she serves largely as an antagonistic plot device. In other words, Harley seems to serve no purpose other than to either annoy, hurt, or kill people, in no particular order, and this lack of consistent character development has been the same problem plaguing the series since issue #1. Harley is chaos without purpose, and instead of Phillips using her to grow the character in interesting ways, the objective in this series is to make Harley as loud and destructive as possible.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Harley Quinn #16 is one of the better issues in the series as we learn Verdict's origin story. Although, Verdict's origin is well-constructed and makes sense in context, the standout of the issue is still Kevin. Rossmo is due credit for depicting Kevin's range of emotional strife once he learns the truth, making this one of the strongest issues in the series so far.


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