Harley Quinn #18 review | Batman News

Harley Quinn #18 review | Batman News


I want to start off this review by talking about something I haven’t mentioned before when discussing Harley Quinn on this website: sales. Back in the mid-2010s, the character’s comics were selling gangbusters. She’d oftentimes rank only below BatmanIn terms of the number of units that were sent to comic book shops.

A lot of people don’t seem to realize, though, that Harley Quinn’s comic book sales have gradually been spiraling down for the last 5 or 6 years now. At this time, she only has one book on the stands month to month (this solo), and it’s been consistently appearing around the 150 mark in terms of sales rankings. Even though actual sales data for comics are not readily available now, it is possible to compare Harley Quinn’s current ranking to the actual selling figures of comics at that 150 mark back in actual numbers. Harley Quinn would then be shipping approximately 14K issues to comic shop shelves. This would mark the lowest average annual sales. Harley Quinn solo book has sold since her first run from the 2000’s lost steam. This could also explain why each Harley QuinnThere are now five variants of issue to increase sales.

Why do I bring this up? I usually wouldn’t, because sales don’t necessarily judge the quality of a comic. I bring it up because I’ve known this information for a while, and I was utterly baffled by the series all of a sudden going weekly. Surely it doesn’t have the interest to support that right now. I’ve heard people say this is perhaps to rush out another Harley Quinn anniversary trade. It seems like an attempt to cash-in on the first issue. Dark CrisisHowever, despite having a better artist, I believe the release schedule compression could make the book even worse.

All that aside, it’s not important. I’m in for the long haul with this book until it’s over. How does it work? Harley QuinnStephanie Phillips: What’s it like to work with a new artist? And what is the release schedule? Let’s take a look.

First of all, I’m amazed at how my experience with this book  has changed now that a new artist is onboard. I can see Harley and all the characters! I can actually tell what’s going on! Rossmo’s art was so wacky and so mangled, I had a hard time picking up any visual cues to successfully follow the story. Each issue became a pain to read. I had to take much longer to figure out what was happening. The art in this issue makes it feel like I’m reading an actual comic. The story moves forward using simple panel layouts. It is sometimes only three or four panels per page. This makes the story easy to follow and makes it quick to read.

I mean, it’s not perfect. There’s not a lot of detail or distinct style to the art. The Harley Quinn books have a cartoonish feel thanks to Amanda Connor and Max Sarin, but this is a very generic style of art that I can find almost anywhere in comics. Minor things, such as character proportions, are my only complaints. Sometimes Harley’s face looks too long, and there’s one panel where she looks like she doesn’t have pupils or eyelids. So it’s not incredible comic art that’s going to sell the book alone. It is a relief on the eyes compared to Rossmo’s art, nevertheless.

The writing for Harley Quinn, however, obviously– and sadly– hasn’t changed too much.

She’s not so bad in this issue. This is partly due to the artwork. Riley Rossmo’s portrayal of Harley with her smug, inoffensive facial expressions was one reason Harley was so difficult to understand. This is her appearance. The artwork gives her a variety of expressions other than “crazy cartoon,” and that makes her feel just a bit more human. (Sometimes, her facial expressions remind of Jinx. Arcane). We open the comic with Harley’s long, pseudo-philosophical musing about not liking group projects. This goes on for quite a while. This panel is only intended to make Harley nervous about her being asked to join another team, after Amanda Waller forced her to serve on Suicide Squad. However, the second Luke Fox offers him some cash and she is invited to his rag-tag team. Was it really necessary to have an internal monologue?

That’s the crux of the issue, however. After a completely needless chase sequence where people under Luke Fox’s employment try to capture Harley (and knock her out against his wishes), he reveals that he wants her to go on a “completely optional” mission for him, since the rest of the Teen Titans and Justice League are either busy or out of commission for the Dark Crisis event. I must say, I don’t know why Luke Fox would hire the likes of Harley or Verdict (who looks like Vi from ArcaneHere) even if it was desperate. It is only next issue that it becomes clear why Harley is a terrible choice for the team.

Once again, she’s a bit more mild in terms of dialogue and hyperactivity in this issue, probably because we’re dealing with mostly exposition. There is a weird running gag where Harley REALLY wants Italian food, and she keeps talking about it, and she keeps annoying people on the spaceship because she’s eating garlic and her breath smells bad. These are just forced, bad attempts at humor and they don’t do the character or story any service. They make it seem like Harley was never asked to join the team.

Recommendation:

  • Rossmo’s art turned you off of the Harley Quinn series, and you want to give the book another chance.
  • You want to read everything and anything related to DC’s Dark CrisisEvent (and this is very vaguely connected to it).

Overall

While the artist change-up for Stephanie Phillips’ run of Harley Quinn probably won’t save the series at this point, it does make the book a lot more palatable than before. I still think it was a bad choice to make this book go monthly though, since I don’t think it has the clout or substance behind it to handle that.

Score: 5.5/10


Disclaimer: Batman News received a copy from DC Comics to review the comic.


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