Harley Quinn #55
It’s a Harley ho-ho-holiday special! Nothing’s worse than spending the holidays with your uninvited, unannounced family—just ask Harley. Her brothers won’t stop fighting, her dad wants peace and quiet, and her mom just wants everyone to get along. But the dysfunctional family dynamic masks a major secret that the whole Quinn family is keeping from Harley. Will the big reveal mean an even bigger family blowout, or can Harley’s clan end their squabbling and remember the true meaning of the season?
The Harley holiday special issue focuses on her family’s surprise visit and promises a big reveal, hoping to bring a complicated family dynamic into Harley Quinn’s life and explore how she reacts to “normal” functions. The importance of Harley’s mother emphasizes this point, as she has acted as a moral compass in some of the more recent dire situations. While this is a decent enough concept to explore human themes often associated with the holiday season, the issue struggles to offer much in terms of excitement.
We start with a great first page featuring Harley breaking the fourth wall with threats and wild antics, but in the very next page her personality and demeanor changes entirely. Harley becomes almost unbearably controlling as her dysfunctional family continues disrupting her careful plans. A scenario which then continues for about half of the issue following Harley as she complains about what each family member is doing to contribute to ruining her holiday.
This structure is halted abruptly with the big reveal as promised…Harley’s mom has cancer.
The story becomes more personal at this point, shifting in tone and finally forcing Harley into another mood. Writer Sam Humphries has displayed quite a talent for showing the importance of Harley’s mother in her life, and their talk after the big reveal is a great example. Unfortunately, the rest of the family returns to the forefront rather quickly and the issue falls back into more mundane matters. They wrap with a Merry Christmas and the introduction to the ‘Trials of Harley Quinn’.
The artistic direction was luckily back on track for the series thanks to John Timms and Alex Sinclair. Harley looked well done on each panel, the colors were solid, but the real star is letterer Dave Sharpe. This was a dialogue heavy issue that relied on his talents and he succeeded on every page. It is just unfortunate that the story didn’t really allow a chance for the creative team to truly shine.
Harley Quinn #55 is meant to be a heartwarming holiday tale of family and appreciation, but it ends up simply not feeling like a Harley story. It’s a family drama that readers have probably seen before, but this time features Harley Quinn reacting to situations beyond her control. There are some solid moments between Harley and her mom that fans may want to read, but hopefully the ‘Trials of Harley Quinn’ will be a more enjoyable reading experience overall.
Harley Quinn #55 has all the characteristics of a great holiday special, but ultimately misses the mark in bringing the pieces together for an exciting and memorable story. Though the artwork is a significant improvement, the issue is unfortunately a lackluster reading experience overall.
Harley Quinn #55: Say Merry Christmas Everyone!
Writing - 3/103/10
Storyline - 4/104/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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