After hunting across Los Angeles in search of her best friend’s killer, Harley Quinn has finally learned the truth behind what happened to Alicia. At the root of everything was Granny Goodness, out to sew the seeds of despair in the world. Now, it’s up to Harley to stop her and avenge her friend’s death.
Over the course of Humphries run he’s taken Harley through a lot of highs and lows, all designed to grow her as a character and craft a story that shows grief and recovery in a relatable way. This issue is the penultimate one to that whole story, as well as the wrap up to the California arc and while it’s mostly successful, I feel like there’s just something slightly off in it. Perhaps it’s me just wishing for a few more pages, or the way endings to arcs are hard to stick, but while this issue was good and did many things very well, it just did not hit me the same way many of the others have.
The story quickly catches readers up on what’s been going on and gets Harley inspired to go after Granny Goodness. It turns out Granny Goodness has been planning to take over Earth and created a small fire pit fueled by the heat of Apokolips and despair in order to do that. It’s an answer that neatly ties up all the little hints and strange things that have been going on over the arc, each thread Harley pulled leading back to this plan to create more and more suffering in L.A. to feed the pit.
While you might assume the fight between Harley and Granny Goodness would be one of epic proportions, it really isn’t. It has some great moments, where Harley really fights back, and some fabulous use of plot devices like that gun Harley’s been toting around this whole arc. For the most part, though, the fight is a conversation between Harley and Granny Goodness. It’s exposition an also a chance for Humphries to once again utilize Harley’s new skill to see the grief in other people. I actually didn’t mind that the fight wasn’t all action. Harley doesn’t have a super suit or Tina to help her here, and to face off against Granny Goodness as a relativity normal human is quite the task. Plus, having her go crazy the whole time really wouldn’t fit the narrative as we’ve seen it so far. Yes, Harley jumps into things, but she’s begun to think a little first.
While there is a lot of discussion going on during the confrontation, Basri and Hi-Fi do a great job of keeping things dynamic. The colors are rich, with dark fiery tones as the two face off with the fire pit roaring in the background. Basri makes sure to change perspectives often on pages that are filled with talking. Even on pages that are just between Harley and Granny Goodness someone is always doing something, like Harley moving her hands to stop Granny from crushing her head, or the ‘camera’ view turning down to glance at Wittleston along with Granny Goodness when he pipes up to answer a question.
The fight turns in Harley’s favor when she uses Granny Goodness’s unresolved grief over losing a beloved pet to her advantage. Which is both a smart move, and a great way to keep the story from feeling repetitive by constantly making the readers empathize with the characters Harley is up against. Humphries adds some humanity to Granny Goodness with her own history, but it’s not enough that you feel bad when Harley takes her down.
The one part of this whole face off I have a little problem with is the fact that for her part, Granny Goodness doesn’t really seem interested in Harley. She didn’t come for Harley or revenge, just to take over the planet. Part of me doesn’t mind that Granny Goodness didn’t come after Harley, but another part of me feels like it pulled a bit of the oomph out of Harley’s own quest. Granny Goodness didn’t even know who Alicia was, let alone have her killed, that was Wittleston. While he works for Granny Goodness, it’s obvious he killed her for his own reasons, and kind of takes away from the victory of Harley having figured everything out. It all feels a bit convoluted, and honestly I think this murder mystery would have worked well without Granny Goodness. I appreciate the call back, and Humphries did build in Apokolips’s presence in this arc, but it feels a tiny bit forced, with Granny Goodness being so separated from the emotional heart of this arc, which is Alicia’s death.
The fight ends with Harley having won, but also being crushed by part of a building, and leads me into the section that really bugs me about this issue. The building falling on her almost kills Harley, and sends her into a limbo wrestling ring to talk with her mom and Alicia. Both berate her for her death wish and urge her to keep living. The death wish is something Humphries has woven through the arc, but I still feel like Harley’s desire to escape the world got a little lost. It was mostly mentions, here and there, sometimes just in the narration, and other times pointed out. But even with this moment where she’s called out for it, I don’t feel like it got enough time. There was a lot going on in this arc to keep your mind off Harley’s death wish. If part of the story focuses on a character running into dangerous situations with part of them hoping they won’t come out of it, it needs more time and attention. And I think it just didn’t get quite enough in general.
It does successfully move the story into the last 4th or so of it –and makes a reference to one of the arc’s opening scenes– which is Harley finding some resolution at last. This section is also gorgeous. If I rave every issue about Basri’s art and Hi-Fi’s colors it’s because they give me such golden moments.
One of those moments is between Harley and Becca as they move to spread Alicia’s ashes in the ocean. The sun is setting and illuminates the sky in gorgeous yellows and pinks, and the ocean is a brilliant blue. Contrasting are Harley and Becca in black memorial t-shirts bearing Alicia’s face. Harley is lightning the mood with jokes, and the two share a nice moment of reflection about life, death, and hope. This is where you can really feel the resolution of this arc, and to some degree Harley’s own grief. There is hope, and while both girls are still hurting –and will continue to hurt for a long while yet– there is the feeling that they will eventually be okay.
The issue could have ended there, but Humphries chooses to also bring some resolution to Harley and Booster Gold’s budding relationship. Harley, now sober and clear headed chooses to go find Booster as he’s singing some lonely karaoke. What happens feels like a natural progression from where the story has taken them, but I’d also still like to see Booster and Harley sit down and talk, especially since they only got the last couple pages of the issue. This There’s still one issue to go, so I think Humphries might take some time there to further explore this budding relationship he’s created between them, or perhaps he’ll leave it as it is, as something new and unexplored.
Humphries has promised the next issue to be something joyful and triumphant, and while I have no idea what might be in store in his last issue on Harley Quinn I’m excited to read it and see a real culmination of Harley now that she’s come through her long journey of growth.
- The Harley and Granny Goodness face off is quite a bit of fun
- Resolution, resolution, resolution
- You’re interested in seeing just how this arc wraps up
Harley’s final face off with Granny Goodness is a fun, and heartfelt moment where it’s proven that even Granny Goodness herself has gone through loss. While the fight is enjoyable, and has some great surprises, the emotional beats of the story are where it’s strongest. First in Harley’s determination to save her friends and those Granny Goodness would put in danger. Then as she and Becca both find resolution in the truth and are able to put Alicia to rest at last. If you’ve been enjoying this arc at all, this is a great way to wrap it up.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.