Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red has been an excellent example of where digital comics, and especially digital firsts, are going when it comes to comic publishers. An anthology series from DC Comics, each week has seen a new stand-alone chapter from a different creative team. They have varied in tone with both the story and the art. The DC Digital First series has shown off the creativity of comics and how much the teams bring to it. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Fourteen, “Fixer-Upper” is the latest chapter and an interesting one in many ways.
Written by Jordie Bellaire, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Fourteen has Harley Quinn following the Joker’s clues to an ending that’s unknown. Through her puzzle quest, she reflects upon her relationship. Unfortunately, the abusive relationship between Harley and the Joker has been a plot point all too often explored in this anthology series. But, that doesn’t mean the comic is bad in any way.
Instead, Bellaire gives us a really self-reflection. Harley goes through Joker’s motions exploring her relationship and history with him. Not only does she contemplate her position, she also reflects on why the Joker is drawn to her. This creates a very interesting read and by the comic’s end, a place of empowerment. The comic feels like a “journey” for Harley in the physical and emotional sense. We get her logic as she explores the whys of her dance with an abusive other. It’s all presented in an almost puzzle form as Harley unlocks what’s ahead of her in numerous ways.
Greg Smallwood handles the art duty with Becca Carey on lettering. There’s a horror aspect to the comic as she explores a rundown house and its surrounding areas. It’s also a rather fitting setting, a metaphor of her experiences with the abusive Joker. What’s also interesting is the focus on Harley. This isn’t a comic full of crazy action sequences. Instead we get tight panels with clear focusing on how the art reflects the narrative. A close-up of Harley’s face adds to her contemplation. The highlighting of a deranged letter reflecting on the Joker’s thoughts about his on-again off-again significant other. A dropped letter begins the process of Harley moving on with her life. Each panel is deliberate and thought out in its presentation.
Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Fourteen is an interesting entry in the anthology series. While the exploration of Harley’s relationship with the Joker is a little tiring, the details of this take stand out. It’s a digital comics that feels like every aspect has been really thought about in how it ties into and tells the story and Harley’s journey. It’s the type of story where you’d debate the details in English class. While it doesn’t tread new ground it’s also a solidly executed story.
Story: Jordie Bellaire Art: Greg Smallwood Letterer: Becca Carey
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review