Review – Harley Quinn #64: The Bargaining Stage

Harley Quinn #64 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Harley Quinn #64 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Sami Basri, Artist; Jessica Kholinne, Hi-Fi, Colorists

Ratings:

Ray – 10/10

Corrina: Comedy & Tragedy, Together

Ray: Sam Humphries’ run on Harley Quinn has been wildly meta and over-the-top, taking Harley across time and space. But at its core has been a very human story about Harley reconnecting with her family and especially her mother – only to have that potentially cut short when her mother is diagnosed with lung cancer. The specter of death has been chasing them – literally – the last few issues, and we saw Harley’s mother take a turn for the worse last issue and lapse into a coma. That makes the brilliant Harley Quinn #64 a fascinating split narrative, as Harley sits by her mother’s side and reads the latest Meredith Clatterbuck Harley Quinn comic. These old-school Harley tales have been a frequent aside in this run, and this is the biggest spotlight they’ve gotten yet as they spoof DC’s biggest current events – especially Year of the Villain, as Lex Luthor chases Harley from one scene to another as he tries to force her into taking his offer.

There’s a lot of hilarity here, as he comes up with more and more excessive offers, and Harley seeks refuge in different adventures. First, it’s Event Leviathan, as Harley butts in on Clark and Lois undercover while Lex breaks their cover. Then it’s City of Bane, as in this odd parallel world Bane has outlawed clothes and everyone is running around Gotham naked for some reason. The best is probably a Justice League Dark parody, as the team is made to parody Scooby-Doo, complete with Detective Chimp as a very unhappy Scooby. At the same time, while Harley immerses herself in the comic, she’s joined by all her friends and family in solidarity. There are some great cameos, but there’s a constant feeling that the end is coming and Harley refuses to look at it. When the two stories converge, it’s a gut-punch, unlike anything we’ve seen before in this run. This may be the best Harley Quinn single issue since “Mad Love.”

Countdown to the end. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: The best comedy has its roots in tragedy and those who’ve written Harley Quinn well play to that, balancing reckless, ridiculous adventures with Harley breaking from her abusive relationship with the Joker, or Harley protecting her friends. It can sometimes go too far into Harley’s bad side, as her revenge on those who did her wrong turns murderous, but when the balance is found, it always makes for a perfect Harley story.

None more perfect than Harley Quinn #46, complete with the spot-on parodies of some of DC’s super-series events, like ‘City of Bane’ and, especially, ‘Year of the Villain.’ But all this is while Harley’s reading at her dying mother’s side. As someone who’s sat with a loved one in ICU, this scene rung so true that it hurts. My vigil had a different ending than Harley’s (happily) but her disbelief at Death’s appearance is still heart-wrenching.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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