Harley Quinn #45 – Sam Humphries, Writer; John Timms, Artist; Gabe Eltaeb, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: I’ve been pretty harsh on the Harley Quinn title for a while now, feeling that the Conner/Palmiotti run petered out with too many dark stories and the Tieri run felt like a cover band. Well, the wait is over, as Sam Humphries brings the kind of anarchic action that Harley Quinn needs, as well as fusing the character to the cosmic worlds he loves to explore. The issue kicks off with Harley on vacation at the shore, trying to put her recent trauma behind her and walk away from her crime-fighting/crime-doing careers for a bit. With Coach in charge in Coney Island, she’s relaxing despite her mother warning her that she can’t run away from her trauma. A one-page “Lil Harley” comic credited to M. Clatterbuck shows that Harley never found it easy to walk away from injustice, but she’s going to do her best. Soon enough, though, her rest and recreation is interrupted by Lashina and Bernadeth of the Female Furies, who pick a fight and then essentially draft her in a mission to Apokalips.
Why is Harley wanted on Apokalips? It seems Granny Goodness has decided that Harley would be ideal for a new Female Fury, and she manages to tempt her with promise of a shiny new weapon. There’s just one hitch – Harley has to go through the brutal gauntlet that every new Fury does. This is where Humphries shines – while Mister Miracle shows the world of Apokalips as hard-boiled, disturbing horror, Humphries has fun with the bizarre action sets. There’s an absurdist element to the whole affair, with Parademon translations and Apokaliptan fight clubs. In many ways, this feels like the earliest Conner/Palmiotti arcs, particularly the stories that teamed Harley with Power Girl and took on cosmic threats. It’s not particularly deep, but Harley – or “Hammer Harleen”, as she’s renamed with her shiny new weapon – is having fun again, and so are we. The end of the issue makes clear that Harley hasn’t quite grasped the implications of her new gig, so there’s a lot of chaos to come. This is the most I’ve enjoyed Harley’s title in a while, and I’m glad Humphries is on for the long haul.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.