Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Eleven
DC Comics‘ DC Digital First program has a standout already with Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red. With each chapter, the digital comic series has delivered a new and interesting take on Harley Quinn. With different creators with each chapter we get a different version each week showing the flexibility in this iconic character. While some releases have retreaded similar themes or concepts, each chapter has delivered something different and new. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Eleven is an interesting release. It’s the second chapter that has evoked the classic Batman: The Animated Series in its tone and spirit.
Written by Simon Spurrier, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Eleven has Harley giving her advice on how she’d beat a handful of superheroes to a crowd of minions at a bar. It’s a story that’d fit perfectly in a standalone episode of the animated series and there are echoes of the beloved and classic “Almost Got ‘Im” episode.
What’s fun about these types tales is they engage the reader. Harley’s recounting of how she’d defeat so many heroes plays into our fantasy conversations of who would win in a fight. It gets us to ponder how we might defeat these heroes ourselves. There’s also something fun because with each of Harley’s suggestions, we’re left wondering why someone hasn’t done exactly that, as if these are ideas that’d work guaranteed. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Eleven delivers on the conversations so many of us comic fans have had. Also, beyond one or two of Harley’s examples, these aren’t plans to kill the heroes. Each suggestion is grounded in some way recognizing the mythic nature of her prey and the reality that true long term defeat just might not be possible.
The art by Otto Schmidt is fantastic. Schmidt mixes a gritty noir style with that of Batman: The Animated Series. There’s an exaggerated nature to Harley’s stories bringing a comedic flair to them. That’s reflected by the reality of where she is and who’s she with, thugs in a run down bar. Schmidt’s art is great going back and forth between the two and taking what could easily be a very dark story and giving it a bit of levity. The page layouts also stand out breaking from traditional panels to layer them in interesting ways and layer them on engaging backgrounds.
The lettering by Gabriela Downie stands out as well. With Schmidt’s interesting page layouts, the speech bubbles often shatter their expected placement. The bubbles at times look like they’re cut out and “taped” onto scenes shaking the layouts up even further. The two combine for unique visuals and a fun flow that matches Spurrier’s story. The style creates a flow and pace that matches Spurrier’s beats but also adds a little madness to Harley’s ideas.
Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Eleven is fantastic and one of my favorite entries in the anthology series. It mixes humor with a bit of darkness. And, while it goes in directions that are expected and familiar, it does so with so much glee and fun it’s hard to not enjoy the ride. It’s an entry that honors Harley’s roots while also delivering another special take on the character.
Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Otto Schmidt Letterer: Gabriela Downie
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review