A few months ago, HARLEY QUINN #42 gave us our first peek at the future of one of DC Comics’ most iconic characters: Old Lady Harley. Now, in OLD LADY HARLEY #1, the adventures of future Harley Quinn continue as she takes on her very own homecoming to seek answers buried in the depths of Gotham City.

OLD LADY HARLEY #1 is definitely a unique issue, one that maintains a distinct setting and tone. However, its eccentric nature ultimately struggles to mask the fact that beneath the surface, there is unfortunately not much there to engage with.

old lady Harley #1
OLD LADY HARLEY #1 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

A Harley Walks Into A Kraken Barrel

In OLD LADY HARLEY #1, our titular character finds herself in the midst of a dystopian future. The setting is abundant with Mad Max vibes and general hopelessness. However, Old Lady Harley isn’t letting that bring her down. Her future has taken her on unique missions that she finds pleasure in taking up, one of which involves her fighting enraged squids at a Kraken Barrel alongside Red Tool.

Yes, you read that right.

Sometime after this particular fight, Harley comes across some hoodlums known as The Laughing Boys. They claim that The Joker is alive. Though, Harley is reluctant to believe them. She’s confident that The Joker died long ago, yet she also is aware that she has come across various people who have come back from the dead.

So, she and Red Tool decide to go back to Gotham City to find some answers about The Joker. There, they discover that an army of Azrael-robots has taken over the city, strictly enforcing curfews upon citizens. As a result, Harley and Red Tool get beaten up by the Azrael-robots and eventually awaken in a Batcave helmed by none other than Batman Beyond.

old lady Harley #1
OLD LADY HARLEY #1 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Verdict

Overall, OLD LADY HARLEY #1 is a frustrating issue. I found myself truly wanting to enjoy the work, but the overabundant use of cheesy pop culture references for the sake of humor and overarching lack of plot development make for an issue that just misses the mark.

Additionally, I wished this issue focused on the dystopian setting more. We get a glimpse of how the state of the world has affected Old Lady Harley. However, that glimpse is merely a glimpse. I would like for future issues to further dig into that relationship and give us a deeper dive into Old Lady Harley.

Ultimately, it would be beneficial to see Old Lady Harley as a distinct persona from the Harley we know. A lot has happened in the years since she left her home. What has happened since then? How much has she changed as an individual? Those questions should — and hopefully will — be addressed in the duration of this series.

old lady Harley #1
OLD LADY HARLEY #1 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of OLD LADY HARLEY #1

Thankfully, the artwork is one of the stronger aspects of this issue. The coloring from Eva de la Cruz is definitely a highlight. I particularly love the juxtaposition of gray and warm hues in Harley’s flashback sequences. We get a sense of the darkness that drove Harley into the future we are now familiarizing ourselves with.

Interestingly, the sequences depicting Old Lady Harley are incredibly warm in their hues. Despite the dystopian nature of the setting, Cruz brings a lightness to the setting. This ultimately establishes a more light-hearted tone in the issue as a whole. Now, though the penciling from Inaki Miranda is greatly detailed, it does falter at times.

Some sequences are more consistent than others in their cohesion. For example, the sequence featuring the confrontation with The Laughing Boys excels in its dimensionality. On the other hand, though, Harley and Red Tool’s fight with the Azrael-robots comes across as less structured. In general, the artwork is OLD LADY HARLEY #1’s strongest aspect. However, there is still plenty of room for improvements.

What Lies Beyond

OLD LADY HARLEY #1 maintains the potential to be something wonderfully bizarre. Unfortunately, though, the issue falls short in encompassing all that it could be. There is simply not enough substance in OLD LADY HARLEY #1 for the issue to be totally satisfying. Thus, I hope future issues elevate each and every level this series maintains in weirdness, humor, and depth. I want to know more about Old Lady Harley’s story, more than what we’ve merely scraped on the surface.

OLD LADY HARLEY #1 by Frank Tieri, Inaki Miranda, Eva de la Cruz, & Dave Sharpe
OLD LADY HARLEY #1 is unfortunately not weird enough to sustain an engaging storyline or multi-faceted characters.
58 %
dull dystopia
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