After exhausting her resources by plastering the city with flyers and posting on every social media platform, Harley Quinn is finally ready to hold the inaugural meeting of her clown support group. Unfortunately, the session is about to start, and she’s still missing the one crucial element thing that every group needs: people. Although Harley is confident Hugo Strange’s new S.A.F.E. program scared away any potential members, Kevin reassures her that everyone must be running fashionably late. Despite his best efforts to comfort the Maiden of Mischief, Kevin’s smile ultimately betrays him because…
“…there are lots of different types of smiles and they all don’t mean happy.”
An entertaining lesson on the psychology of smiles, Harley Quinn #3 is cleverly written and gorgeously illustrated. Wisely using Harley’s diatribe on smiles as a thematic connection for each plot point, Stephanie Phillips elevates this issue’s straightforward narrative in a way that is meaningful to the character. Additionally, Riley Rossmo’s amazing artwork remains a highlight of this series as his panel work subtly reflects the narration. Rossmo’s art does an excellent job conveying every insane action sequence as well as the series’ introspective moments.
One of the things that I loved the most about this issue is how Stephanie Phillips weaves Harley Quinn’s discussion of smiles throughout the entire narrative. This gives the story a theme that serves as connective tissue for each plot point. In particular, I love how Phillips uses the history of the doctor who used electroshock experiments to examine smiles on severed prisoner heads to reflect Hugo Strange’s unethical treatment of the clowns. Riley Rossmo’s artwork elevates this sequence. As Harley rhetorically asks, “Remind you of any crazy doctors around here?” Rossmo’s arrows not only indicate the motion of the doors also humorously serve as an answer.
Additionally, Harley Quinn’s continued examination of the smiles of those around her is perfect. Harley’s inspection of each smile demonstrates the character’s intellect and her ability to read others. This gives the character depth in a way that proves to be both meaningful and humorous by Harley Quin #3’s final sequence. In the final two-page spread of this issue, the creators present the reader with Harley’s analysis and reaction to the smiles of every important person in her life. It’s a moment that happens to be one of my favorites within the issue.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Stephanie Phillips’s perfect characterization of Harley Quinn. Stephanie presents Harley as an unfunny character in socially uncomfortable situations, such as leading a group. Instead, Quinn is unintentionally hilarious when wiping the floor with the bad guys. This dichotomy in Harley’s humor adds depth to the character and makes her completely relatable. The awkwardness of Harley’s opening “joke” to her session juxtaposed to her hilarious one-liners in battle left me smiling long after finishing the book.
“Smiles tell you more about a person than you might think.”
Riley Rossmo’s artwork continues to be a massive selling point for this series. Rossmo’s artwork and Ivan Plascencia’s colors perfectly capture Harley Quinn’s over-the-top action sequences. As I have stated previously, the two-page spread where Harley is describing and reacting to the smiles of every important person in her life is one of my favorites within the book. In this sequence, Rossmo and Plascencia present these characters almost like ghosts haunting Harley and elicit a wide range of physical reactions. In the pages, the art reinforces the notion that smiles can tell you a lot about a person because not every smile means “happy.”
Cleverly written and gorgeously illustrated, Harley Quinn #3 is an entertaining lesson on the psychology of smiles. Using Harley’s discussion of smiles as a thematic connective tissue, Stephanie Phillips elevates this issue’s straightforward narrative in an entertaining and meaningful way. Additionally, Riley Rossmo’s amazing artwork remains a selling point for this series as his work does an excellent job conveying every insane action sequence as well as the series’ introspective moments.
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