Harley Quinn #57 // Review
Reforming from a life of crime is difficult. Reforming from a life of crime while suffering from something that might be construed by some as psychosis is much more difficult. Reforming from crime AND psychosis in a world where you’re being courted by powerful cosmic beings while simultaneously being hunted by the world’s greatest detective? That’s something that could only happen to a clown girl from Coney Island. Writer, Sam Humphries, glides into Harley Quinn #57. Art is handled by John Timms, with color by Alex Sinclair.
Harley Quinn can’t seem to catch a break. While hanging out on her roof, she’s visited by Mirand’r, harbinger of the Lords of Order and Chaos, who seems to be as enamored with 1980’s pop culture as she is with Harley. Mirand’r offers our motley heroine an opportunity to become the Galactic Angel of Retribution - if she’s willing to undergo a gauntlet of six trials. So, it’s not exactly a normal evening for Quinn, but she DOES get a really nifty belt! She is wearing said nifty belt at the hospital while visiting her cancer-stricken mother, when unforeseen complications arise. Little does she know that Batman is off to Coney Island to confront her about a murder in Gotham.
Humphries’ dance with Quinn had been a bit clumsy over the past few issues, but here he seems to have regained footing. For starters, the dialogue is radiantly witty. The pacing and balance between the grittiness of a story featuring Batman and a wacky cosmic comedy is impressively regulated. Harley Quinn herself seems to be genuinely appealing again. Quinn is perfectly sane in the crazy world she’s trying so desperately to settle into. This issue feels a bit like a cleverly mutated fragment of Alan Moore’s classic The Killing Joke. This is some of Humphries best work thus far with the character.
John Timm’s art in this issue is a sheer pleasure to behold, from beginning to end. There’s a whimsically kinetic physical action of the issue. Sinclair’s colors add to the fun as well -with bright, splashes of color lashing out against grays and inky darkness. Some of the humor is refreshingly subtle. I particularly appreciate the attention paid to Harley’s height. She gets right in the face of everyone who confronts her and, because she’s always substantially shorter than they are, her defiance is so much more engaging. It’s such clever visual symbolism and really brings home the idea that she’s always in over her head but totally okay with it.
Harley’s been through a lot. In this issue Humphries and Timm have tossed the captivating clown girl onto the page at just the right angle. As this is the beginning of a multi-issue story, there’s hope that the next few issues could be the beginnings of a fascinating new chapter in the heroine’s life in 2019.