Harley Quinn Black + White + Red is a 14-part anthology series letting creators loose to do what they please using Harley Quinn as the focal point. The only rule is you only get to use black, white, and red. Issue #1 kicked things off that felt like an extension of Harleen, issue #2 was a fashion extravaganza, issue #3 was an interesting take on the unreliable narrator, and issue #4 had tons of sick raps. Issue #5 is out today and it’s all told by Riley Rossmo with letters by Deron Bennett. Considering Rossmo is one of the most dazzling artists today, we’re in for a treat.
This issue is appropriately titled “The Life and Death of Harley Quinn”, following Harley’s first moments being alive — literally when sperm meets egg — and closing things out with her death. It’s a tale that spans a lifetime, at first following a lot of what we already know, but then rocketing off into a future we’ve yet to see. Rossmo tells a good story that helps remind new readers about Harley’s life up until the current continuity but then blows the doors off with some crazy ideas.
The most important element that holds up in this work is how the story captures Harley’s pizzazz for life. Told nearly exclusively through captions, the voice of the narrator is overly dramatic and fun, just like Harley. This is yet another example from this series that shows if you give a creator free rein you will get diamonds.
The art is stupendous, but what else would you expect from Rossmo? His unique style is excellently used here, playing around with layouts, heavily using Ben-Day dots, and maximizing the use of red. In one page of great layout work, Rossmo frames Harley’s head from left to right to show her in the same prison cell over years of being arrested and how she shifted her love away from Joker and onto others. Sound effects are maximized to great effect and the use of lighting throughout is stellar. In one panel, rain falls on Harley which is conveyed by striking away red to make streaks of white. Little details like this permeate the book.
This series shows DC Comics has the opportunity to blow the doors off with every character as long as they give creators free rein. This issue is yet another example of how a select number of pages and an idea can reign supreme when a creator is able to tell any story they’d like. The series has certainly been eclectic, but that matches the energy and vibrance of fun in every tale. Pick up Riley Rossmo’s issue now and you’ll see pure creative juices flowing for the betterment of your enjoyment. This series is like an inoculation of fun. Five out of five AIPT doctors recommend it.