Harley Quinn has had an awful lot going on in her life lately. She’s battled through a series of trials to become the Angel of Retribution, gave that up, and has begun working through the grief of losing her mother. Now all she wants to do is spend Thanksgiving with her remaining family, and enjoy time spent with her brothers and dad by eating good food, reliving memories, and attempting to destroy DC’s very first crossover event: Crisis on Infinite Earths!
This issue follows a pattern much like that of issue #64 where the story is split almost evenly between Harley’s main story and that of her comic book self. We follow Harley as she checks in with her family for the first time after her mom’s funeral and tries to corral them all together for Thanksgiving. In the comic she and a very reluctant Booster Gold jump through various crossover events on a quest to find and put a stop to the first event, and thus stop the rest of them.
Harley’s story is the more somber of the two. Humphries is still focused on exploring her grief over losing her mother. Now that she’s given up being the Angel of Retribution and left Coney Island she’s seeking solace with her family. It’s a natural progression for her, and while she’s trying to get everyone together it feels less about the idea that ‘everything will be perfect if I get the family together’. Instead, she believes they will make each other stronger, and help one another navigate their shared loss.
As Harley works to bring her brothers and father together Humphries gives us a wonderful view of how each one is handling losing their mom/wife. From her dad not throwing away her mom’s toothbrush because he’s waiting for her to come home, to her youngest brother’s coping through property destruction, each reaction is both individual and human. It’s a great example of how no one deals with something like this in the same way. Honestly, I’d have loved it if this whole issue was dedicated to exploring Harley and her family like this. It’s so well done I don’t want to be distracted by anything else. No matter how funny or witty the side story is it’s simply a distraction at this point. I love the humor in the book, and the wackiness that is Harley Quinn, but I feel like Humphries can do it in the main story alone, instead of splitting things like he has.
In between Harley’s quest to bring her family together for the holidays we’re given a continuation of her comic book self raging against The Year of the Villain. Harley partners with Booster Gold to try and stop all crossovers because she’s tired of them. While this portion is funny, it didn’t find myself as amused by it as I did the last time she had crossover adventures. This could be because I haven’t experienced firsthand that many large events, and I haven’t read through every Crisis, so some of the humor could be lost on me.
Still, Humphries starts things out with some delightful zingers against comic book events, like her apt labeling of Adult Onset Event Fatigue to describe Harley’s feelings on crossovers or how she points out the fact that events are used to drive sales for failing books. From there he jumps through various Crisis events until they make it all the way back to Crisis on Infinite Earths. The adventure feels mostly like satire, but there is a portion near the end that seems to pivot away from that to taking on a more respectful tone. Instead of pointing out the faults, Humphries has Booster point to the positives events can bring, like how they can be inspiring and bring larger doses of hope and victory than individual stories can.
One of my favorite parts of the comic book portion of this issue was the art. This issue has quite the roster of great talent on it: Sami Basri, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Tom Derenic, and Trevor Scott. And that’s just the list of artists on interiors, as the issue also has 3 covers, with my favorite being the Thanksgiving one by Frank Cho and Sabin Rich. The joy of the crossovers explored in this issue is really the art. Each one invokes the same style of art the crossover it’s paying homage to, and does it in a way that makes you feel like you’re almost back in the pages of those comics, except of course that Harley’s there to mess everything up. The various styles all work really well together simply because we know we’re jumping through these events, and going back in the past. It’s delightful to come across art and colors indicative of that, instead of what we’re currently used to seeing.
I also have to praise Dave Sharpe’s letters and Hi-Fi’s colors. Harley’s habit of emphasizing words is a constant, but in this issue it feels turned up a notch, as she’s shouting spoilers and warnings at everyone in each time jump. Hi-Fi further emphasizes the art style of each event with colors to mimic those of the scenes represented. The place it’s most obvious is in the Crisis on Infinite Earths portion, with beautiful pastels and saturated colors.
Both parts, while very different, work well together. The comic book is one of hope and victory, building from disappointment and frustration to the fictional happy ending that Harley wants most for herself right now. This plays nicely off of how Harley’s real life story doesn’t go so well. She moves from being hopeful and determined to make everything work, to disappointed and faced with a reality she has to live with on her own. It’s much like the way reality hit her in issue 64, and once again reminds us all that not all stories have happy endings the way we want them to.
- You’re still invested in Harley processing her grief
- All that stunning, wonderful, fun, art
- You too have Adult Onset Event Fatigue
This issue is a mix between two stories: Harley’s continuing struggle with losing her mother, and a funny (and gorgeous) look at crossover events. Both are enjoyable to read for their own reasons, in art and story. Every time Humphries touches on the human side of Harley, and her struggling through her mother’s loss I’m moved and find myself more and more on her side. His humor is just as strong, and delightful in how it pokes fun at the medium of comics itself, but also finds time to praise the things comics do well.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.