It’s been a while since we’ve had a new issue of Harley Quinn but it’s here now, and a welcome distraction from everything going on. When last we met with Harley she was in Los Angeles hot on the trail of whoever killed her friend and wrestling partner, Alicia. To top things off, she’s managed to wrap Booster Gold into all this, which is sure to make this issue an interesting one.
The issue focuses mostly on Harley’s continuing investigation into who killed her friend Alicia. In the previous issue she pointed the blame at Baby Face, their old manager, and this one has her striving to actually prove he did it. Through it, she’s joined by Booster Gold, who’s agreed to help her on her quest. The issue plays out a lot like the last one did as Harley and Booster investigate a few places and continue to try and piece the mystery together. They do dig up a conspiracy, but whether or not that has to do with Alicia’s death is still up in the air.
This issue might have felt overly repetitive if not for Booster’s increased presence in it. Where he’s been a bit of a sounding board for Harley in past issues, he’s front and center here playing the Watson to her Sherlock. The two make a good duo with Booster acting as the more levelheaded of the two. Humphries also works to build quite a bit of chemistry between them through the issue that build off the budding interest we’ve seen earlier in the arc.
What’s really great about having Booster in this issue is how much life and flavor he adds to the story. Coming into this series I knew next to nothing about Booster Gold, and I still don’t know much, but I’ve found him to be delightful on his own, and a great addition to Harley’s party. He adds a surprising layer of lightness to this arc. Harley might be chaotic and flamboyant, but her spirits are certainly dimmed after the murder of her friend, and the tone of the investigation would feel much more somber without Booster’s encouragement and goofiness tied in. There’s one scene in particular where they’ve infiltrated a party/cult recruitment meeting that had me in stitches as they pretend to be an outrageous newly engaged couple attempting to spout the most ridiculous things about their families and relationship. Beyond adding humor, he’s also quite insightful, and genuinely kind. He knows Harley is dealing with a lot, and when he jokes about her mother he’s quick to realize his mistake and apologize. As much as I love reading about Harley’s adventures, I enjoyed Booster so much here it’s made me want to explore his character further and I’d honestly love to see Humphries focus in a bit more on Booster himself, how he’s dealing with the aftermath of what happened at the Sanctuary in HIC, and how he and Harley relate to each other after that.
While I enjoyed Booster and Harley’s interactions, the actual investigation feels a little convoluted. This is the second issue in a row we’ve simply followed Harley around, and while this one has a different tone to the last, you do get to the end of the issue and wonder where it’s all going. Even with Harley giving readers a breakdown of just how she reaches her conclusions as to who is really behind all this the pieces don’t quite add up cleanly. The confusion I think, comes from the fact that Humprhies seems to be telling two stories here, Harley’s struggle to come to terms with Alicia’s death, and whatever mystery Harley has accidentally stumbled upon. Her attempts at fitting the two together don’t really work, and as a reader I often found myself in Booster’s place thinking “That still doesn’t tie them to Alicia.” I think this is done on purpose, though we’ll have to wait until the end of the arc to see if the two stories do end up together, or if this is all a way for Harley herself to try and deal with another loss in her life.
Speaking of Harley dealing with loss, I don’t think I could talk about Harley Quinn without talking about how she’s dealing with grief in general. Since she’s lost her mom, Humphries has made it an intrinsic part of the story he’s telling. It’s layered especially in this issue in a number of places. Beyond her quest to find Alicia’s killer there are a number of moments in this issue that are quite powerful and show different facets of Harley’s own struggle. There’s Booster Gold finding Harley’s box of photos she’s been taking of her smile in the morning, to see if she ‘means it’. Then the scene where she connects with an enemy over the loss of a loved one And later, when Booster accuses her of having a death wish and Harley reacts with a statement that she can diagnose herself and really this is all for Alicia. Each of these shows a different way she’s been impacted by or is still dealing with grief. Even if I sound like a broken record talking about this every issue, I really appreciate the fact that Humphries has not let this theme go through the series, and I applaud him for continually giving us a story that is both hilarious and full of heart.
Something that is different about this issue, is the artist. ABLE is credited as doing the art for this issue, and their style fits the title well. It’s close to Basri’s style, but everything is a little sharper and more angular. They do a great job with Harley’s expressions in particular, giving her wonderfully exaggerated facial expressions that match the humor of the book well, like when Harley and Booster are making outrageous claims about their fake families and Harley spits her drink. The exaggerated expressions work well in serious moments too, like close to the end when Harley is vehemently defending her reasons for doing this, and is both angry and teary eyed at the thought of Alicia having died in a locker room shower. She’s angry in one panel, and openly honest and upset in the next. It’s a really nice sequential moment that shows her range of emotional turmoil over all this.
That moment is followed by one that really surprised me, which was a tender scene between Harley and Booster that points towards attraction between the two. I spoke briefly on there being chemistry between the two of them earlier, and I want to go into a bit more detail here. It’s played off quickly by Harley as she’s disgusted by the idea of having a crush on Booster, but going back through the issue you can see all the moments of chemistry dotted in between the two. It doesn’t feel too out of the blue since Booster has been a part of this arc since the beginning, and heightened situations often cause heightened emotions, but I’m glad to say that Humphries doesn’t take this too far into a cliche by shoving them together, but instead lets the situation rest for now.
That could have easily been the end of the issue, but there’s another couple pages that help build a cliffhanger that leads into the next issue. It proves that something definitely is going on in LA, no matter what the truth is behind Alicia’s death, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
- Harley and Booster are a disastrous duo you don’t want to miss
- You love (or want to love) Booster Gold
- You enjoy stories that blend humor and trauma well
This issue of Harley Quinn feels a little like the last one, but still manages to be quite a bit of fun. Humphries focuses once again on grief and trauma, and how that impacts a person, and he does it through showing us Harley’s often questionable decisions through the issue. He balances this with Booster Gold who adds humor and a level head that Harley needs right now, and works as a great partner as they continue their investigation. All in all, it’s an entertaining read that’s also full of heart.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.