The current volume of Harley Quinn hits a milestone - Harley Quinn #75 - as writer Sam Humphries says goodbye, and he gets a helluva sendoff.
The writing is really only scaffolding for the murderer's row of artists that join him here. Harley's getting roasted and different characters are telling stories about her. Your enjoyment for this book is going to lie solely the visuals here as the set-up doesn't leave Humphries room for much more than some potty humor. It's an odd contrast to the R-rated iterations of the character in film and on DC Universe/HBO Max that have become more synonymous with the character because it feels like it's holding back. But Humphries and company have some fun and if you're a Harley Quinn fan, you likely will, too.
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Sami Basri, Nicola Scott, Emanuella Lupachinno, Ray McCarthy, Ramon Villalobos, Ngozi Ukazu, Joe Quinones, Riley Rossmo, Hi-Fi, Annette Kwok, and Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
The first story sticks Harley with the Superfriends which just feels like an odd fit in general but the Nicola Scott art is at least nice to look at. Harley defeats a communist robot with the power of dance? Sure. Like many things Harley Quinn, you just sort of roll with it.
Emanuela Lupacchino is up next with a short that references the Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Frank Tieri era heavily. (They even make a cameo.) It's fine if poop jokes are your thing and it's kind of a waste of Lupacchino but there is a reason that someone else (allegedly) edited this and I'm just writing about it.
I think aside from Sami Basri, who illustrates the interstitial parts of the book, Joe Quinones does the best with what he's given. He gets the riff on the Batman: The Animated Series version of the Bat characters and he's clearly got a good rapport with Humphries timing from their stint on Dial H (opens in new tab).
The Ngozi Ukazu section is a little too saccharine to be dropped right in the middle of the book like that, especially after Ramon Villalobos does his Frank Quitely-esque Suicide Squad bit.
I love an anthology book or an art jam but I like them to have a tighter concept. Humphries doesn't get to be particularly funny here. The stories he offers up don't feel particularly unique or exciting in any way. Harley Quinn fans will gain some enjoyment but might still be left scratching their heads over the format. It just doesn't take full advantage of the character the way that something like Leah Williams' Gwenpool (opens in new tab) book was able to do. (I realize that was a limited series, not an anthology style one-shot, but the sort of madcap tone is not unlike Harley's, generally.)
This works as a farewell and sort-of anniversary issue (75 always strikes me as a weird one). But it doesn't feel super indicative of Harley's potential as a character. Humphries' voice feels slingshotted through versions of the character that aren't his own. I think that why the pages with Sami Basri work better than any of the individual stories in terms of capturing who Harley is at DC right now.
There's a backup story that ties into the current 'The Joker War' story as well but that's another case of Humphies really having to serve other masters. (Riley Rossmo's art is quite fun, though.)
Here's hoping DC let's Humphries do something more substantial in the future because it's clear that when he's left a little bit more to his own devices, he's a more effective creator.