Harley Quinn #68 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Sami Basri, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: This year of Harley Quinn has been one of the biggest surprises in comics, as it fuses one of the craziest stories at DC with a deeply personal tale of Harley and her family coping with grief. Following last issue’s gut-punch of Harley trying and failing to get her family together for Thanksgiving only months after losing her mother, she can’t be around them for Christmas – so she decides to get away in Harley Quinn #68.
She books a vacation at the most exclusive holiday villages in the world, Christmas Hamlet, sure it’ll put her in the holiday spirit. But what follows is anything but a relaxing Christmas getaway. She finds that everything in the place reminds her of her mother, causing momentary bouts of depression. This wouldn’t be an issue – if it wasn’t for the fact that her host seems to get angry every time she’s not jolly for half a second. When she loses her temper and causes some minor property damage, it brings out the Christmas sentries who look to enforce cheer with maximum prejudice.
This is obviously an allegory for how society treats people who are grieving, acting like cheering them up is a chore they can do and be done with. Grief isn’t simple and tends to recur, so those do-gooders then feel like they failed and take it out on the person they were trying to help. The metaphor isn’t subtle, but Humphreys dresses it up in enough classic Harley chaos that it hits all the right notes. Harley soon teams up with a girl who has been “haunting” Christmas Hamlet for a long time and has been fighting the same fight.
A book that melds wacky superhero comedy with a slow-burn study of grief shouldn’t be a natural fit, but Humphries pulls off the perfect balancing act. It’s the perfect holiday special for a book that’s alternatively hilarious and uplifting, but this title is a little hard to place in terms of an overall run. Humphries takes a wide left turn with the ending that seems to come out of nowhere – but I predict it’ll somehow come together into something fascinating.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.