This issue wraps up Humphries’ first arc on the title, bringing Harley’s adventures on Apokolips to a close. As some may know, I was somewhat critical of last issue, mostly because of two reasons. First, I dislike the meta jokes (Harley randomly breaks the fourth wall a few times during this arc). Sometimes I love it when stories have a meta element, but only if said element is relevant to the plot, the characters, the theme, the story as a whole, or if I find the jokes themselves genuinely funny. In the case of Harley Quinn, I don’t feel like its meta jokes are relevant to anything other than potential entertainment, and since it just isn’t my kind of humor, I was disappointed about that initially. However, after reevaluating this meta aspect I have drawn the conclusion that it’s simply a part of this book’s identity. You either like the way that the creative team handles it, or you don’t. But I, for one, have decided to simply accept it for what it is and roll with it for the time being (unless I really feel compelled to comment).
The second thing I dislike about this arc is that it’s never clear why Harley ends up on Apokolips. It wasn’t even her own plan; she was brought there by Granny Goodness’s Furies. But an actual reason for why Granny wants Harley on Apokolips is never revealed, and I consider this a plot hole. While I accept the meta stuff for what it is, the plot hole is something I can’t overlook. If at the very least a reason was revealed, I could’ve commented on it, discussed it and explained my opinion. Now, however, there’s a missing link and as a result the story suffers because it’s incomplete.
Yet, in spite of this criticism, I find myself enjoying #47 quite a bit. More than I had expected I would, if I’m being honest, and that’s a good sign. Most of my enjoyment comes from the fact that Humphries has been writing Harley very consistently across this first arc of his run. Clearly, he has a good feel for the character’s voice, because she sounds very similar to how Conner and Palmiotti established her during their run, and so it really feels like Humphries and Timms are telling that same character’s continued stories.
Another thing worth briefly discussing is Harley’s character arc. While it’s not necessarily the driving force behind this story, it does provide an extra layer to the narrative. Over the course of these three issues, Harley has been struggling with her own identity. In #45 we heard her saying that she might not want to be Harley anymore. This wish to be someone else then manifested itself in her assuming the persona of Hammer Harleen, and in doing so she became one of Granny Goodness’s Female Furies. Being a Female Fury usually means that the person in question goes down a villainous path, but as the story has been progressing, we see Harley acting more and more like a superhero. Now, I understand that some readers out there aren’t a fan of this heroism and would prefer to keep Harley as a villain. However, in my opinion this identity crisis is of some value to the story, because by the end of this arc I get the sense that Harley has gone through character development. You see, one of the worst things a writer can do to their characters is keeping them trapped in the same cycle of stagnant characterization. If characters don’t grow, then why are they worth reading about? Let alone writing about? In the case of Harley, this identity crisis serves to highlight both her villain side as well as her compassionate side because they are constantly at odds with each other, thereby causing internal conflict. Essentially, Harley is faced with the choice of self-indulgence or showing compassion to others. The choices that she makes here clearly aren’t the choices she would’ve made when she was still with Joker, which could be interpreted as her overcoming his influence, embracing the good inside of her more and more. At the very least by including this, there is something at stake in the story. The question now isn’t so much: how is Harley going to get out of this? But rather: how will these events affect her?
The art is brought to us once again by the team of Johnn Timms (art) and Gabe Eltaeb (colors), and they are on point. While I’m still not really into this particular art style, I do think that Timms maintains a good level of consistency this time around. Timms knows his Harley designs, easily cycling through various outfits, from her beach attire to her Hammer Harleen costume and more. Harley’s also characterized very well by her body language. We see her prancing around, laughing a lot, her eyes constantly twinkling with joy. Harley is crazy and having the time of her life more often than she’s not. What’s more, Eltaeb’s colors have some energy to them. During the opening pages we see electricity crackling everywhere, which makes for a dynamic intro to the comic. Such dynamism continues throughout the issue. While there are quieter moments to catch your breath, the fights are action-packed and fun, especially because you never know what Harley’s going to try next.
You want to see how Humphries wraps his first arc on the title
You want to see how Harley leaves Apokolips burning in her wake
Overall: This is an enjoyable conclusion to Humphries’ first arc on the title. While I don’t care for the meta jokes because they seem too random to me, I think Humphries has certainly demonstrated that he has a good feel for Harley’s voice and I appreciate that there is at least some focus on her character development. Unfortunately, it never becomes clear why Granny Goodness wanted Harley on Apokolips, which I consider a plot hole, because without this reason the story seems incomplete. But if you have fifteen minutes of spare time and want to relax with some light reading, watching dynamic fight scenes and Harley’s happy but crazy antics, this book is probably for you. If you want a plot with a little more substance, though, there are plenty of other books on stands; this one is just for laughs, but sometimes that’s okay.