Writer: Tini Howard and Sam Maggs
Artist: Sweeney Boo and Kelley Jones
Colors: Sweeney Boo and José Villarrubia
Letters: Steve Wands and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 26th, 2023
Harley’s back from Knight Terrors and reunited with Poison Ivy in Harley Quinn #32. Diving back into loving Ivy and teaching classes, wouldn’t you know it, she forgot all about Lady Quark. But Lady Quark didn’t forget about her! Lady Quark still sees Harley as a threat to the multiverse, but she’s wanting to teach Harley about herself and her special relation to the multiverse in order to prevent an apocalypse. And if Harley refuses, Lady Quark’s going to destroy Earth-Prime to save the rest of the multiverse. Don’t you just hate clingy people? Brother Eye returns! Harley’s students are transformed! And who the $#!# is Lux Kirby, Multiversal Detective?
After the huge speed bump of Knight Terrors, Harley’s back on track in Harley Quinn #32. DC, can we please ease up on the massive crossovers for just a year? The beautiful momentum that was built up in Harley’s book came crashing down like a tower of flaming cards when the series had to take an off-ramp to Knight Terrors. Let your books breathe a while.
Now that I’ve vented, I’ll say I really enjoyed this issue. I love the direction that has been taken with Harley Quinn, where she has latent multiverse-related abilities and she’s kind of like a focal point of sorts for the multiverse. She has come a long way from being the Joker’s wacky moll. She’s still wacky and borderline nuts, but now she has pathos too.
Lady Quark, who has been one of my favorite characters since Crisis on Infinite Earths way back in the 80’s, is the biggest stick in the mud ever. She’s a Queen on her world of Earth-48 and a harsh disciplinarian. She doesn’t suffer fools and Harley’s ability to snatch objects from random places in the multiverse vexes her. To her, Harley is a bigger threat to the multiverse than the Anti-Monitor, Darkseid or any other heavy-hitting godlike villain, because she’s a wildcard who at any moment can randomly toss a hammer into the cogs of the multiverse. And what’s worse, Harley doesn’t even know how she does it herself.
Most of the issue has Lady Quark bringing Harley and her students to her Warworld, where she tries to figure out how Harley was able to summon the legendary Vorpal Fish from Captain Carrot’s Earth (Earth-26), thus unwittingly dooming that world. This is the most visually stunning part of the book, as Lady Quark and Harley venture into the Bleed, the area between Earths. This seems to be a similar concept to “The World Between Worlds” in Star Wars. Seeing Harley in these sci-fi situations is kind of jarring at first, but it’s hilarious watching her constantly puzzle Lady Quark, who is trying to get answers that Harley just can’t provide.
It’s a fun ride throughout and in the end, we’re introduced to Lux Kirby, one of the most bizarre characters you’ll ever see, who sets up another layer to Harley’s multiverse dilemma that I look forward to seeing continue next issue. There’s also a backup story drawn by the great Kelley Jones where Harley has a nightmare of she and Ivy visiting a Nosferatu-like Joker in an ancient castle. The artwork by Jones is as stunning as ever and makes the generic story far more enjoyable because of it.
Harley Quinn #32 has stunning art in both the lead and backup stories. Sweeney Boo was born to draw Harley and I love her art, which is a perfect fusion of anime and traditional Jack Kirby-style work. Her work especially shines this issue, as she brings to life the vast futuristic expanses of Warworld and the grotesque Kaiju-sized monsters that occupy the Bleed. Harley’s fashions are always killer (no pun intended). As noted above, the art by Kelley Jones on the backup is his usual amazing work. Nobody can draw a vampire tale combining the beautiful and the terrifying like Jones.
Harley Quinn #32 breaks free of the Knight Terrors baggage and brings Harley’s book back on track, deepening the mystery of her multiversal powers, giving us some great moments with Lady Quark and her Warworld and introducing an intriguing new character in Lux Kirby. Recommended.