As Wittleson’s army circles our anti-hero with vulturelike fervor, Harley Quinn now has the dastardly developer right where she wants him. With a litany of accusations and only her gut to rely on, Harley is ready to finally powerbomb her friend’s murderer into the pavement. Unfortunately, when Jonathan Wittleson reveals a new piece of evidence, Harley’s brain is busted. Will this development give Harley’s case an RKO outta nowhere, or will she finally bring Alicia’s murderer to justice?
“Look to the stars, but always pack protection.”
With Harley Quinn #73, Sam Humphries and Sami Basri have crafted a socially relevant and humorous character study. A large part of this issue’s success is due to Humphries’ script. By weaving social commentary into the mystery surrounding Alicia’s murder, he allows this story to feel relevant to the reader. However, I think it is Humphries’ mastery of Harley’s voice, combined with Basri’s excellent artwork, that continues to make this title great.
One of the things that I noticed throughout the previous issue was that Harley’s dialogue felt off. I felt that this was intentional on Humphries’ part as it would have been indicative of her mental state. Harley was still funny, but Booster Gold constantly one-upped her. Typically, Humphries crafts dialogue for Harley that is instantly quotable, and its absence was something that stood out to me. However, with Harley Quinn #73, the title character’s trademark humor has returned.
Although her mental state may not have improved following Wittleson’s newly revealed evidence, her wit certainly has. With her investigation in shambles, she reaches out to Booster Gold for comfort. It’s hard not to laugh when she says, “Let’s make out an’… talk about death an’ stuff.” The juxtaposition of these two things is humorous; however, this dialogue also does a great job illustrating her headspace. If it was not made abundantly clear by her actions, Harley is definitely not okay.
“Hope in spite of all the rich scumbags, the shady cults, the bigots, and the liars. Why do they work so hard to keep their boots on our necks?”
Throughout this storyline, Harley Quinn has had to piledrive her way through rich scumbags, shady cultists, bigots, and liars. With this issue, Humphries asks what these individuals have to gain from perpetuating this sense of hopelessness. Although Humphries does not posit an answer to this question, by blending these conflicts into the story, he has given this arc a sense of realism. You don’t have to look further than the morning news cycle to see that these conflicts continue to plague our society.
Although Humphries executes the social commentary perfectly, I think this storyline’s real power is that Humphries continues to make Harley relatable to the reader. It is hard not to see a little bit of ourselves within the character as she copes with the loss of her friends. Despite a desire for justice and her best intentions, we continue to see her make destructive decisions. After Booster Gold rejects her advances, Harley turns to social media fortune-teller Charity XO before seeking more punishment in the ring.
When despair traps us in its sticky web, it is easy to focus on the negative. Harley’s dialogue reinforces this notion as she consistently puts herself down. However, when Booster and Charity talk to Harley, they focus on the positive that they see within her. Booster even goes as far as to say, “I don’t know anything, but I know this. You’re a better person than most of my hero friends.” This statement speaks volumes to Harley’s growth as a character. Additionally, I think it is important to note that seeking the help of professionals if you are feeling this way can help you begin to see the positive that you may overlook.
“Stop flimflammin’ me! What’s th’ catch?!”
One of the things that I love about this issue is how Humphries brings his entire run full circle. Although I think Alicia’s death does make this conflict personal for Harley, I was having trouble finding the motivation for her murder. Suicide has never made sense for her character, and most of those Harley accused only had distant connections. However, when Shepherd reveals the real mastermind on the jaw-dropping final page, Humphries provides much-needed clarity. This reveal connects a disparate piece of information from the previous issue and gives the story something it was missing: Harley’s connection to the villain.
However, this leads me to my biggest gripe with the Harley Quinn #73. The method in which Harley discovers Jade Feather is so coincidental that it makes the villains look entirely inept. For a villain who is supposed to be one step ahead, you would think that there would have been a discussion about wearing the Jade Feather back to the scene of the crime, especially when you know that Harley would be a participant. Although the Jade Feather’s reveal was a necessary catalyst for such a crucial moment of the book, the suspension of disbelief required took me out of the moment.
Although I have spent the majority of this review on the script, I would be remiss, and out of line, if I did not mention Sami Basri’s perfect artwork. Basri does an excellent job of conveying Harley’s range of emotions as she copes with this depression. Additionally, I love how Sami illustrates the action sequences. The first panel is so eyecatching that you get the gist for how Harley disposed of Wittleson’s security without needing a play-by-play.
Once Harley returns to the wrestling ring, Sami’s artwork does an excellent job conveying the spectacle associated with wrestling matches. However, my favorite page within Harley Quinn #73 involves Harley wandering through a tourist trap filled with people dressed up as superheroes. Hi-Fi’s use of colors to highlight her surroundings while having Harley remain in black in white does an excellent job conveying the tone and showing her disconnect from the rest of the world.
Ultimately, Harley Quinn #73 is a socially relevant and humorous character study. Although the Jade Feather’s reveal requires some suspension of disbelief, Humphries’ use of social commentary and humor is excellent. Moreover, none of this story would be as successful without Sami Basri on artwork and Hi-Fi on colors.