Overview: In Harley Quinn #31, Harley Quinn reunites with Poison Ivy and dares to consume a cosmic carrot.
Story #1: “Girls in a Crisis Part 4” by writers Tini Howard and artist Sweeney Boo
Synopsis (Spoilers Ahead): From the apartment, Poison Ivy (Pamela Isley) contacts the Flash Museum in Central City to learn more about the cosmic treadmill. Bud and Lou debate whether to tell Ivy anything. On Earth-26, Captain Carrot pummels Harley for a bit and then takes pity on her. Harley and Captain Carrot talk for a bit, and the captain shows her the cosmic trampoline, which she can use to return to her earth. He gives her one of his cosmic carrots.
Harley returns home and reunites with Ivy. Harley updates her on the news and takes Ivy to her class the next day. They are accosted by Two-Face (Harvey Dent), who is eager to reunite their war. At a moment of need, Harley consumes the cosmic carrot and Lady Quark appears. She is furious that Harley is destabilizing the multiverse and begins to consume Harley’s earth. Harley stops her by telling her that apparently Batman needs her.
Analysis: This is a preposterous story arc, and I am absolutely thrilled that it seems to be ending. There’s little of any redeeming value here, although writer Tini Howard does avoid some of the more jarring plot twists evident in some of the earlier books. New readers might be surprised to hear that the plot sequencing is downright restrained, although that does little to redeem the silliness of cosmic carrots and trampoline travel through the multiverse.
Previous writer Stephanie Phillips exercised extreme caution in exploring the intricacies of the relationship between Ivy and Harley. Indeed, one of the best decisions Phillips made was keeping Ivy mostly out of the run, focusing the narrative on Harley herself and the character work she knew she needed to do on her own, without Ivy. There’s no such care shown here. Harley is again behaving like a spoiled child, and the relationship between Ivy and Harley is rendered paper-thin, a mooning, Archie-esque caricature of their queer dynamics. So much for Pride, I guess.
Artist Sweeney Boo’s work has really been the bright spot of this book, but some of the panels here look rushed and almost unfinished. In some of the panels Harley looks almost horsey; the linework feels unrefined and loses the punky aesthetic in which Boo excels.
Contributing to this sense of rushing and lack of refinement, the book seems to lack adequate credits. There’s no title given, nor are any of the creatives credited.
Story #2: “Harley Genesis,” by writer Heather Anne Campbell and artist Filya Bratukhin
Synopsis: Harley Quinn falls asleep while watching anime and dreams she’s in a “Neo-Gotham.” She dons a robot suit, gets into a battle, heals, and then wakes up.
Analysis: I mean, it’s not quite as terrible as previous backup incarnations that centered stories of furries and the like. But the story is still completely unnecessary, adds absolutely nothing to Harley in continuity, and feels like a waste of space.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of Harley Quinn #31 for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.