Harley Quinn Volume 1 – No Good Deed (2021)
Writer – Stephanie Phillips
Artists – Riley Rossmo and Laura Braga
In a previous review, I wrote about how Doctor Strange, Surgeon Supreme had jumped out at me while I was perusing the graphic novel section at the library. I hit paydirt once again when I also came across Harley Quinn by Stephanie Phillips. I really liked the first issue but decided to trade wait until it was collected. I was thrilled I was able to borrow it!
Following the events of Joker War, Harley is at a crossroads in her life. She has rejected the villainous ways of her puddin’ Mr. J and has aligned herself with the Bat-Family. Anti-clown hate and hysteria has gripped Gotham and Harley Quinn must prove to Batman she is on the side of heroes. Her first order of business is to try to help those affected by the fallout of the Joker War. However, Mayor Nakano has plans of his own. He hires Dr. Hugo Strange to lead Gotham’s Secure and Fearless Engagement Program. It’s only a matter of time before Harley and Hugo are headed on a collision course with one another. Can Harley put the past behind her and forge a better future for her and Gotham or will Hugo Strange be christened as the city’s savior? Can he be trusted or has Nakano backed the wrong horse?
The evolution of Harley Quinn continues courtesy of Stephanie Phillips and Riley Rossmo and Laura Braga. Harley has a hard road ahead of herself but its not as rocky as she believes thanks to new friends like Kevin and a few familiar faces. Think of someone who was born on a Monday. Kevin is also seeking a fresh start and a chance for forgiveness and redemption for his part in the Joker War. Harley and Kevin work well together and seeing them trying to better themselves is awe inspiring. Harley’s pep talk from Grundy is both funny and poignant and just the thing she needs to reinvigorate herself when she must rescue Kevin and the other survivors from Hugo’s SAFE house. Rossmo’s art has a cartoon-like quality to it and is the perfect pairing with Phillips’ writing. When I was taking notes for this review, I made a note about Strange’s character design. He’s made to look taller and more physically imposing than we have seen him in previous renderings. When he comes face to face with Harley, he stands over her, his glasses gleaming and sinister smile spreading across his face. Phillips does a great job highlighting Strange’s past and his relationship with Batman and how it affects how he sees himself and how he wishes how Gotham would embrace him as its one true hero.
This was another easy, breezy read as I was able to finish the six issues in one day while working in the office. The first five issues highlight Harley and Strange’s battle for Gotham and the sixth issue features art by Laura Braga as Harley and Catwoman reunite to find the source of drugs being shipped from Alleytown to Gotham as the creation of Scarecrow’s Fear State begins to take shape.
As of this writing, Stephanie Phillips is still writing Harley Quinn and if you haven’t been keeping up with the former Harlequin of Hate, now is a better time than any to give the first volume a read since DC Comics is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Harley’s debut in 2022.
Harley Quinn – No Good Deed gets four out of five sledgehammers from me. It was only a matter of time before Harley was going to step out of Joker’s shadow. Mr. J ended up choosing Punchline over Harley. Harley’s path to heroism was teased for years and we finally see her striking out on her own. I think a lot of people (myself included) missed the boat when she got a new brand ongoing, either because of character fatigue or because it wouldn’t live up to previous runs. I am so glad I picked this volume up and I’ll read the next two to catch up to see where her journey takes her next.