Read or Die

Review of Harley Quinn: Keepsake

Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Keepsake by Stephanie Nicole Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time a character gets a reboot, you wonder what will happen. Will the storyline hold up past the first volume? Are you going to enjoy the direction the writer takes their personality? Is there a risk the humor will fail to meet your exacting standards? Will you need to throw up your hands and walk away – however tearfully? It’s a risk; readers invest significant time and love into these plots, and the last thing they want is to end up disappointed.

Ms. Phillips and her team are far from disappointing, but I felt it was important to throw those questions out there. They’ve continued to take Harley in a new direction that I’m entirely on board with. She’s retained the core elements of her character while gaining a unique perspective that enhances and creates a burgeoning (dare I say it?) hero in Gotham’s wasteland. And the addition of the Group and Kevin make her even more relatable. She’s simultaneously the educated psychologist and the broken, recovering sidekick. It’s brilliant!

Watching her journey (to say nothing of Kevin’s) in this volume, in particular, was heartwarming. It’s a testament to anyone who’s experienced abuse and attempted to crawl out of the ashes. (And the running gag of word problems was hilarious) Everything was handled with an empathetic gentility that deserves a round of applause. Ms. Philips has crafted relatable characters that any reader can identify and form a sympathetic bond with. It’s absolutely beautiful.

This is what comics – forgive me, graphic novels – were always intended to be. And it’s sheer perfection.

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