HARLEY QUINN #49 picks up after a frustrating cliffhanger from the last issue. Continuing where the previous comic left off, Humphries and Borges deliver a zany and mostly satisfying conclusion to the brief story arc.

HARLEY QUINN #49 Balances Everything

After some of the weaker components in HARLEY QUINN #48, I worried about the next issue. But I gave up any expectations halfway through. The installment actually pleasantly surprised me. Harley’s mission to kill Lord Death’s Man is filled with humor. The theatrical extent to which she goes to murder him was hilarious, weird, and perfect. But unlike the last issue, the humor comes with seriousness.

HARLEY QUINN #49 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

No part drowns out the other. The violence balances the comedy, and the weird moments balance the solemn ones. Case in point, the developer reveals that not only do the other characters living with Harley depend on her, but possibly all of Coney Island. Even though we all know a developer is no match for Harley Quinn, it created a sense of urgency. The question of “What if she can’t?” looms over the reader’s head.

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Thankfully, we don’t find out the answer to that what-if. But the plot twists itself along the way, and unexpected details throw themselves in the final pages. of HARLEY QUINN #4  Though hinted at enough to be clever, they weren’t obvious. It made the comic way more exciting and opens up some possibilities for what’s next.

Vibrant As All The Blood She Sheds

The art did not disappoint. The color choices are always vibrant, which matches our protagonist’s attitude very well. Even in the dark of the night, the sky still remains a lighter shade of blue than I’ve seen other artists use. Of course, the most memorable art takes place in the middle of all the action. Harley’s final attempt to kill her target sticks out the most. Despite all the many methods Harley lines up, and each one demands attention. I loved how the background moved from a bouncy house to a volcano in only a few panels.

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I also appreciated the facial expressions. You can see a gamut of different emotions across the faces of Lord Death Man and his henchmen, despite the fact they’re skulls. The faces of the undead were given more detail than usual. Other than them, we got a brief moment of heroism by Tina in HARLEY QUINN #49. We got to see more of her personality, and her history. The softer characteristics of her face show her to be the gentle giant she is, even as she moves through a fire to save a kid, or thinks back on her sisters. That scene was cute and tied itself back to the whole issue. 

HARLEY QUINN #49 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

An Ending… Sort Of

Though this arc didn’t go for too long, I think it was a fun storyline with just enough of everything a regular Harley Quinn reader wants to see. The first part balances the more sobering nature of the second, but the second needs the first’s harebrained humor. Without each other, neither would work very well.

Eventually, you might expect the fight scenes to grow repetitive, but that’s never the case with HARLEY QUINN. Even the smaller plot details, like Tina’s trip to get pet food, or Harley reading DC Comics, came together to add to the main plot. I actually laughed out loud at one part of the dialogue near the end, which is rare in the digital age of humor. Now, someone says they’re “laughing their ass off” with a face resembling a brick. The jokes had better timing and subject matter. On top of that, the plot had more drive and coherence. Some of the characters, like Tina or Harley Quinn’s mom, even got more development, despite how short of time they got.

Though not a cliffhanger, there’s certainly room for more with the ending that’s given. The very last page raised an eyebrow. It seems like the Maid of Mischief is messing around with comic book continuity next. Either way, I’m intrigued, but not enough to be unhappy with how it ended.

HARLEY QUINN #49 is the well-rounded but still weird installment that everyone needed.

HARLEY QUINN #49 by Sam Humphries and Alisson Borges
HARLEY QUINN #49 improved in every way from the issue before it. The art is fantastic, and the plot is as fun as it is strong.
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