Review: Harley Quinn #38

by Kendra Smart
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“Happy Birthday, Harley!”, and “Harley Quinn (Clownius Heroicus)”
Writers: Tini Howard and Ted Brandt
Artists: Natacha Bustos and Ro Stein
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letterers: Steve Wands and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Review by Kendra Smart

Here we are at Harley Quinn #38 and wishing a very happy birthday to the Queen of Chaos! The main cover art’s by the masterful Sweeney Boo and features the birthday girl surrounded by friends and a questionable gift… or two.

When last we left our heroine, the saga of the multiverse splitting and Harley Quinn being used as a weapon had quelled, so what awaited her was up in the air. After almost destroying existence and having an existential crisis, a girl deserves a break… right?

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

The issue starts off with a typical morning, as Harley wakes and prepares herself for a day as a professor. It would feel more like a normal day if she wasn’t consistently going out of her way to ensure the calm and normalcy of the day. However, there’s a fear that’s brought to light as a surprise birthday party is underway thanks to Ivy and Harley’s gaggle of friends.

All seems well, but Ivy gets Harley to talk on a romp to a Chocolate Factory, which is full of delicious puns and gets to the heart of the matter.

Once she hears Ivy’s passion and dedication to her purpose, this brings Harley back to the mindset of what her own passion was; researching villainous minds and what make them tick! Invigorated, she procures a test run with The Body Doubles, Carmen, and Bonnie. Word on the street whispers fast, though, and Harley feels a frosty breeze in the air, coming straight for her!

Acme Approved

While the issue’s paced quite well, it doesn’t deliver the gut punch you’d expect, as another brand-new arc comes hurtling your way laced with potential. The issue takes its time to pause and allow Harley the normal feelings of reflection and fear. The fact that she’s too afraid to celebrate her own birthday says everything. The continuous thread of world-building is very nice.

Also, we get the stellar extra story, “Harley Quinn (Clownius Heroicus)”, with story and art by Ted Brandt and Ro Stein, with letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. This one’s a play on beloved Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes characters Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, or Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. In their place are Harley and Kite Man giving us all the fun capers and laughs. It’s brilliant.


Harley Quinn #38 is an excellent example of a character showing true growth after trauma. I, for one, will be here for it.

Until then readers, one fun fact. Did you know the E. In Wile E. Coyote stands for Ethelbert? It is the small things sometimes. Until next time!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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