“Harley Quinn: No Good Deed”
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artists: Riley Rossmo, Laura Braga
Color Artists: Ivan Plascencia, Arif Prianto, Jay Leisten
Letterers: Deron Bennett, AndWorld Design
Review by Kendra Hale
Harley Quinn: No Good Deed collects Harley Quinn (2021) issues #1-#6, a short story from Batman: Urban Legends #1, a host of variant covers, and more.
Send in the clowns indeed! I was crushed when the previous Harley run ended, so was greatly anticipating for the new Harley Quinn ongoing series to restart, under the guidance of new writer, Stephanie Phillips. Paired with an astounding art team, exciting is the least adequate adjective to use here.
Harley’s returned to Gotham City after the events of the “Joker War“, ready to fully prove that she’s entirely changed her ways. She’s got a progress chart and everything, to ensure she’s mending fences she previously would’ve demolished. She’s now set on putting things right, or at least that’s the plan… but as Harley has learned before. nothing ever goes according to plan.
The citizens of Gotham have had it with Caped Crusaders and with Villains alike, so the City’s ready for a cleanse. The solution is one that poses a threat to all involved.
I won’t lie, I expected the highest of standards going into this new volume, particularly as the previous run was so great. I’m grateful to be able to come into Stephanie Phillips’ run from the beginning though, as her tone on Harley’s far different from what came before. Harley’s still trying to be her perky, happy-go-lucky self, but there’s definitely a sad side to that. She’s palpably lonely but quite determined to prove herself to any who may doubt what, and who she is.
The first chapter, from Batman: Urban Legends #1 is drawn by Laura Braga, which is great because she’s also the artist that closes the book. Her Harley’s gorgeous, feisty, and everything we’ve come to expect.
Riley Rossmo’s art is beautiful, although the chin style caught me off guard at first. It matches up with the way the main story begins. When paired up with Ivan Plascencia’s color art, magic happens as the tale unfolds. The tones shift seamlessly, and we get to see a side to Gotham that’s surprising, at least conceptually but not in a jarring or unexpected way. We get a lot of light-heartedness, but it’s evenly matched with solemnity and anger.
I’m a fan of the unexpected, so having Hugo Strange as the villain Harley goes to go toe to toe against is genius. Though fisticuffs do ensue, with these characters it’s more of a war of minds, and a battle of wits. Who can out-think, or think ahead of the other? That kind of story has always proved entertaining. Harley has a line in this book that bears repeating, in that she’s watched as several others have been given a second chance from Gotham time, and time again… but never her.
One of the things I truly love about Stephanie Phillips’ version of Harley is the quirkiness and honesty. She gives readers so many different facets of Harley Quinn. Not only do we get a heartwarming scene with Harley and Solomon Grundy, but her Batman monologue is fanf@(#!~&tastic. This book truly encapsulates some of the best parts of the character. I can’t think of anything better to say than that.
The final chapter has a different look as Artist Laura Braga and Colorist Arif Prianto step to the plate for the ending. Thankfully, the artwork’s sublime. All the faces are a joy to look at and, having the artist from the book’s first story also draw the last, nicely bookends the collection. There’s one scene, in which Harley’s more than happy to defend her crown as Queen of Distractions, where the art reminds me of a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender named Ty Lee, as Harley gracefully falls through the window like an acrobat.
While Harley Quinn: No Good Deed continues to prove that she may constantly be biting off more than she can chew, watching Harls handle everything was a thrill. I have a feeling that we may be seeing a new facet of Harley that will continue to break through as this journey takes its course.
This collection comes highly recommended to any Harley Quinn fan, old or new.
Paperback | $16.99
Published by DC Comics
Released on Dec 20, 2022 | 168 Pages | 6-5/8 x 10-3/16
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment, review copy courtesy of Penguin Random House