Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Art: David Baldeon, Matteo Lolli and Pasquale Qualano
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: January 24th, 2023
It’s Harley overload in Harley Quinn #26! Last issue, The Harley Who Laughs was revealed to be jumping across multiple Earths, killing Harleys on each Earth so she will ultimately be the last Harley alive in the multiverse. But our Harley and Old Lady Harley (who was accidentally transported to Earth-Prime) battled The Harley Who Laughs and smashed her multiversal transporter, causing Harleys from dozens of other Earths to suddenly appear on Earth-Prime. Now, all those Harleys are wreaking havoc across Gotham City and our Harley has to call in some old friends in a desperate attempt to save the city. Also, Kevin gives Harley some tough love! Batwoman gets ambushed by four violent Harleys! Victor Zsasz gets made up! And can I please get paid a dollar for every time I use the word “Harley” in this paragraph? I need a new car! No? Aw f*#@!
The “Who Killed Harley Quinn?” storyline that’s been running for five issues (with Harley Quinn #26 being Part Five) has been riveting and filled with some great twists. What started as a simple mystery with Harley being shot in the middle of the night by a shadowy assassin has turned into a saga of multiversal proportions.
If you love Harley, you’re going to love where this story has been headed. In this issue alone, we get 15 different Harleys(!), including our Harley, Old Lady Harley, The Harley Who Laughs, a Harley that looks very similar to the “Batman: The Animated Series” version, a roller-skating punk-rock Harley who looks like she could’ve been Sid Vicious’s main squeeze, and a combat boot-wearing Harley that looks like a harlequin version of Tank Girl. It’s always fun seeing different versions of the characters we love.
The thing I enjoyed most about the issue wasn’t the gaggle of Harleys, or even the thrilling action scenes with our Harley and her “Dirty Dozen”-style team taking them on. It was our Harley’s surprising vulnerability, that moment where she just gets fed up with everything, questioning herself and her life.
For most of Harley’s series, she’s been more of an anti-heroine than a villain, saving tons of lives. This new crisis forces her to admit she’s sick of it, she’s sick of being the person that has to save everyone. And her friend Kevin steps in to throw it back in her face in the most loving way possible. It’s awesome to see this side of Harley, who’s usually so boisterous and confident, and it’s another great moment between her and Kevin. The friendship between these two very different people is one of the most special things about the book, I always love the scenes with the two.
Beyond Harley and Kevin, we also get some great dynamics between Harley and Old Lady Harley and a little bonding between Old Lady Harley and Batwoman. I’ve always loved Batwoman and she gets to shine here. A book is only as good as the characters in it, and this book is overflowing with great ones. There’s a chilling surprise cliffhanger to perfectly cap off the issue and leave you counting the days until next issue.
David Baldeon, Matteo Lolli and Pasquale Qualano’s art on Harley Quinn #26 is surprisingly consistent throughout. It looks like one artist drew the entire issue, and I love all their details, like Harley’s over-the-top expressions, Batwoman’s grim posture and features, and the facets of each of the multiversal Harleys. Many of the Harleys didn’t even speak, but there was still a wonderful amount of attention given to each one to give them distinct looks. Rain Beredo’s colors are as magnificent as always, with Harley’s blue and red cosmetics clashing with the dark bleakness of Gotham City. All the colors pop in a perfect way.
Harley Quinn #26 escalates the threat to Gotham City via dozens of Harleys from various Earths. There’s some great action, a few hilarious moments, and a wonderful moment between Harley and Kevin. This is the most I’ve enjoyed a Harley Quinn story in a long time and I look forward to seeing what happens next issue.