Harley Quinn #64 // Review
Harley Quinn is trying to have a few tender moments with her dying mother when Lex Luthor brings the Year of the Villain crossover into her title. Naturally, she’s going to do everything in her power to avoid the death of her mother AND the crossover in Harley Quinn #64--an issue written by Sam Humphries with art by Sami Basri. Humphries cleverly fuses interpersonal drama with lighthearted fourth wall shattering multi-genre spoofery in a story that shows just how far Harley has come in her path away from psychotic criminality. It’s a very clever blend that uses the intrusive obstacle of an editor-induced multi-title crossover event to catapult Harley into her most serious inner struggle yet.
Harley is hanging out with her sick mother in the hospital. Her mom’s dying of cancer. She’s in a coma. Harley is reading to her in hopes of coaxing her out of the coma. What better choice in reading material than Harley Quinn #64? In the pages of the comic book in which her story is playing out. Lex Luthor relentlessly pursues her to offer her great power in exchange for joining a Year of the Villain crossover event, which will draw her away from her dying mother.
When it finally arrives, the resolution in this issue is pretty obvious. Humphries makes the journey a fun one regardless...casually shredding the entire concept of continuity with dialogue that sounds like it might and might not be a genuine part of the overall DC continuity. Harley’s mind seems to be fragmenting even as she seems to be totally tuned-in to the most important parts of her life. Humphries’ careful sculpting of Harley’s psyche rests within a story that also manages to deliver action and comedy in equal doses.
Basri’s impressive versatility shines through this issue. The heavy earthbound drama of a woman dying from cancer is given the dramatic weight in a group of exhausted characters keeping Harley and her mother company in a hospital. The weariness of those pages is contrasted against action that ranges from realistic to wacky and over-the-top. Basri also delivers spot-on spoofs of sci-fi super-spy action, Scooby-Doo kids mystery and even a late-night talk show format for comics. Even with the action of the issue being dragged all over the place, Basri manages to hold it all together and maintain the momentum of the story as it crunches ever-close to Lex’s final offer.
Somewhere in the midst of the issue, Harley makes bitter mention of crossover events that “everyone complains about, but everyone still buys.” Humphries is having fun with a bad crossover that he’s clearly been cornered into. It’s really satisfying to see Humphries manage to make the crossover fit so well into the ongoing drama of Harley’s life. It all comes together so perfectly that it would have practically have had to have been planned by some sort of evil super-genius looking for the only way he could possibly wrangle the anarchic energies of a slowly-reforming clown-girl psychopath