Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Reeling from the revelation in the last issue that the villain who is behind her friend Alicia’s murder is none other than Granny Goodness, leader of Darkseid’s Furies and foe from the first arc of this run, Harley Quinn makes a plan.
First, she spreads the love for Alicia by buying up and giving away all of Alicia’s merchandise. Then Harley heads to the underworld and finds Wittleson, who is packing up and heading on to his next evil scheme. He reveals what he and Granny have been building – an Apokoliptan fire pit, still in its infant stage, which will grow until it covers the Earth in despair, just like Apokolips.
Harley responds to Granny’s dismissal of the value of Alicia’s life with a furious attack – but as Granny easily defeats her, Harley recognizes that they both share deep grief from the deaths of loved ones. Granny shares the memory of killing her beloved dog Mercy at Darkseid’s command. Harley tells Granny that she hates her, but she also is with her in grief. Using that moment of distraction, Harley uses her fellow former Fury Tina’s Apokoliptan gun to destroy the fire pit.
Granny boom tubes away in disgusted defeat, and the building collapses on Harley, leaving her in darkness, where she sees those who have died in her past few years of adventures – her mother, Alicia – then wakes up in an ambulance.
Harley and Alicia’s daughter Becca wade into the ocean to release Alicia’s ashes, and Harley uses her skills and inappropriate humor to help Becca find a way forward in her grief – and Becca helps Harley realize something too.
At a karaoke bar, Booster Gold is singing, and Harley surprises him by joining him in a duet. To his great surprise, she kisses him deeply.
Analysis: Sam Humphries made his reputation as an indie writer and a Marvel writer who loved the wild, wacky, and often bad taste stories like Our Love is Real. However, since coming to DC, he’s shown a very real talent for heartfelt and heartwarming stories dealing with pain and struggle. Green Lanterns is beloved particularly for its depiction of Jessica Cruz and her anxiety, and Harley Quinn has been a very surprisingly moving exploration of grief at the loss of loved ones. This penultimate issue of Humphries’ run ties his whole run together – Granny Goodness was the villain of his first, madcap arc on the title, and she returns here to great effect. The center of his run, the death of Harley’s mother, is dealt with very well here as Harley struggles to cross the desert of grief on foot, taking many detours into self-destruction but ultimately finding a way forward. I have no idea if her relationship with Booster Gold will mean anything for the characters going forward, but it’s nicely handled, and I hope that whoever gets the characters next will treat them with as much respect and affection as Humphries gave them.
The art on Harley has consistently been quite good, especially when Sami Basri handles the pencils, as he does here. Once again, Harley’s humor, beauty, intelligence, and emotional swings are brilliantly conveyed in incredibly appealing linework, colored with bright Los Angeles hues. Guillem March once again provides the main cover – Harley leaving LA, with a wistful tone well suited to the issue. Frank Cho gives us a variant with Harley in classic jester costume with the devil and angel Harleys on her shoulders, both saying to “do it,” showing again the perfect pairing of Harley Quinn’s irreverent sexiness and Cho’s particular gifts as an artist.
This run has been very enjoyable, and the final arc is an especially well-crafted piece; this issue gets a strong recommendation and builds strong expectations for the final issue.
Final Thoughts: The penultimate issues of this run of Harley Quinn’s adventures tie all of Humphries’ arcs together in a hilarious and heartfelt meditation on the struggle of life, all through Harley’s inimitable eyes, drawn by the incomparable Sami Basri.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic digitally and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue through Comixology.