Harley Quinn #60 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Sami Basri, Artist; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Harley At Her Best/Worst
Ray: Harley’s trials continue in Harley Quinn #60 as she chases cosmic power while dealing with some very real issues she can’t punch her way out of. As the issue opens, she’s stalking her way through a deserted lab armed with laser guns, under attack by an army of alien bugs. It’s a scene right out of the likes of “Alien”, and much darker than I’m used to seeing from Humphries’ run. Even his take on Apokalips was quirky! Flashbacks show that this is all part of Harley’s ill-advised attempts to help her mother with her cancer treatment. Although Harley’s mom made clear to her that she doesn’t want Harley breaking the law on her behalf, Harley decides to break into STAR Labs and steal some top-secret cancer-curing research. Naturally, this is going to go sideways in a hurry. That’s how Harley winds up fighting alien monsters, but a series of bizarre appearances make clear that this is not all Harley’s doing.
As Harley battles her way through the monsters, she’s met with one vision after another of people close to her. I groaned when Joker showed up, but Humphries’ take on the Joker seems closer to the Hamill animated version rather than the sadistic serial killer who usually shows up. So this segment was at least bearable, although I’d rather they just move on from that mess of a relationship. This was followed by an appearance by Batman and eventually Harley’s mother. However, the issue picks up a lot in the last act when Harley discovers the source of the alien monsters and is forced to make a difficult choice that proves her worthy of the latest trial. The trial story is going on a bit too long, but I like how Humphries uses it as background for Harley’s personal struggles. Only the Batman team-up arc has really nailed that dynamic in the last few issues, but the story as a whole remains compelling.
Corrina: The art, especially in the fighting sequences inside the lab, was very much in the style of Batman: The Animated Series, and that’s clearest in the “Joker’s” short appearance. The story, too, could have been an episode of the animated series focused on Harley, though a more centered and less crime-focused Harley than in the first part of her criminal career.
Humphries has used his “trials” to explore all aspects of Harley’s past and present and it’s been a great narrative tool, as it’s allowed him to guest-star Joker, Batman, and others, without actually guest-starring them, and having Harley work through the issues she has with them.
And, meanwhile, there’s the human element of Harley staring at her mother’s mortality. The depth of her fear and grief is clear in her “release” in fighting the bugs. Except, unlike the grieving Harley in Heroes in Crisis, this one is stable enough to halt the violence for a moment and show some empathy. It’s a much better take on the character.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.