Overview: Harley’s sojourn on Apokolips comes to an end as she teams up with Petite Tina to stand up to Granny Goddess!
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): The action kicks off with Harley suffering at the hands of a torturer, Psycho Crusher! Unfortunately for Psycho Crusher, Harley is proving quite resistant to the brainwashing program. While Psycho Crusher goes to get some more tools to complete the job, Harley escapes with the aid of Petite Tina. They find themselves in Granny Goddess’s bedchamber where Harley makes a series of jokes about the statue of Darkseid by the bed. Petite Tina tells the story of how she came to be corrupted and enslaved by Granny Goddess, while Harley flashes back to an episode from her fantasies of her and the Joker.
With her hammer regained, Harley is tempted to make a clean getaway but Tina reminds her that millions will die in Granny’s Subjudicator machine. After some internal debate, Harley agrees to help. After tricking Granny with a facsimile of Darkseid, Harley faces up to the pain and punishment of Granny, before acquiring the Splinter of Destiny in their fight, which Granny needs to power the Subjudicator. After ejecting the Splinter into a Boom tube, (where it seems to find of all people, Lobo!) Harley taunts Granny even as she takes some more blows, before Tina turns up, clobbering Granny, and the two of them make their escape to a beach on Earth.
Before they can enjoy their downtime too much though, Coach calls Harley telling her she’s needed back at home, “They’re tearing down the building!”
Analysis: So far this Apokolips arc has been an absolute winner for the Harley Quinn title and if this issue mainly focuses on wrapping loose ends (which it definitely does) it does so in a fun and entertaining fashion. Harley has truly embraced her manic, fun side in this crazy off-the-wall arc and it WORKS! Something of note is that Humphries is working with is this concept of multiple Harleys, crammed inside the telephone box of Harley’s brain, all demanding attention and arguing over plot details and decisions. It’s not deeply written but it is entertaining and definitely is reminiscent of similar conversations Deadpool would have, while still training an all-Harley flavor. For it to work, it needs to be kept to a page at most to explore this concept each issue as it is a repetitive joke which elects a chuckle but shouldn’t compete for too much space.
Of interest is just how much of a hero Harley really has become – although she fights against it in theory, when debating with her alter-egos, Harley in the persona which DC have been very consistent with since Palmiotti and Conner began their run in the New 52, is never close to evil. She’s self-centred and can be selfish, but the quandary of whether Harley would knowingly condemn millions of innocents to death under the hand of Granny Goddess, is not really a quandary at all. She might be self-centred, but she’s definitely got a heart of gold, our little Harley Quinn! As a reader who has really enjoyed Harley Quinn in general through her publishing run, but in particular since the conscious shift to move away from the confines of the Joker storyline (although he still does get a little flashback/day-dream cameo in this issue for example) the move into anti-hero territory that veers more on the “hero” side is I believe a good move for Harley and DC. Right now the title contains a pretty heavy layer of “wacky” and “funny” which works so well against the back of Apokolips which is so far out there with all its Kirbyesque trappings. It will be interesting to see with Harley back in Coney by issue end, and how Humphries will handle the transition to a more grounded playground for Harley.
The art in the Apokolips issues has been top notch by John Timms, with a generous color palette by Gabe Elteb which really fleshes out the scenes on Apokolips and adds to the crazed maxed-out feel of proceedings. All in all, this was a great way to wrap up the issue to an extremely entertaining story arc.
Final Thoughts: A good, fun arc wraps up with a satisfying conclusion! Sam Humphries is COOKIN’ on this title!
Editor’s Note: David Finn is the author of The Asanti Series. Demorn: Blade of Exile, Demorn: City of Innocents and the latest book, Demorn: Soul Fighter, are currently available on Amazon here.