Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Art: Georges Duarte and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 2nd, 2022
Poor Harley Quinn. She just wants to live her life solo, but like Michael Corleone, they keep dragging her back in. In Harley Quinn #18, Harley’s attacked by a team including Killer Frost and Bronze Tiger, sent by a mysterious figure who wants to enlist her. Who is this person who’s so desperate to have her on their team and what insane mission will they be sent on?
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“Work smarter, not harder”. That phrase kept echoing in my mind after reading Harley Quinn #18, a story where a lot of unnecessary fighting and angst happens, when a quicker more direct approach would have worked just as well. Hey, I love a great knock-down-drag-out slobber knocker of a battle too, and we get a pretty good one here, as a squad of super-powered B and C-level characters come off the bench to capture Harley.
As the squad chases Harley, mind-boggingly attacking her separately rather than all at once, Harley dodges, flips, leaps, and quips throughout. At times it becomes a Charlie Chaplinesque physical comedy, especially when the battle heads into an Italian Restaurant. I don’t know about you, but I never considered garlic bread sticks and a pot of soup as viable weapons until now. Why is this fight making me hungry?
None of the squad members are allowed to shine because they have to be outmaneuvered by Harley to keep the story moving. Bronze Tiger suffers the most. In my opinion, he’s one of the most skilled martial artists in the DC Universe, having stood his ground with Deathstroke and Batman in the past. But here, he fumbles around with his sword like Jerry Lewis impersonating a samurai. Another member of the squad, a former member of The Female Furies of Apokolips, comes off just as badly in the one scene she has.
When the person who hired the team is revealed, and the person tells Harley why she’s needed, it makes no sense why they didn’t just contact Harley directly and ask her to join the team. This person is very wealthy, Harley is obviously attracted to the person, and the mission she’s needed for involves something Harley’s always wanted to do anyway. So why send a team after her to drag her in and risk killing her? It made no sense to me. It was a clunky way to put all the pieces of the story in place. Given that, it looks like it’s going to be a fun little romp of a mission, and hopefully next issue the members of the squad will be allowed to shine.
Georges Duarte’s art for Harley Quinn #18 is a vast improvement over Riley Rossmo’s work on past issues. I always felt Rossmo’s art was a more cartoony version of Bill Sienkiewicz’s impressionistic style. Duarte’s work still has a cartoony style to it, but there’s more detail in the characters and their surroundings, and Duarte amplifies Harley’s expressions in entertaining ways (when Harley sees garlic bread sticks, stars appear in her eyes). One splash page towards the end of the issue, where Harley and the team walk to start their mission is a great piece of work, each of the characters’ expressions giving glimpses into their personalities, and the vehicles are drawn in great detail also.
Harley Quinn #18 sets up a grand adventure to come, but the issue fumbles in handling the supporting characters and throwing in a long fight scene when one wasn’t necessary.
The prolonged battle would look great in a film, but here, it just comes off looking like a way to pad the issue.