It’s time to celebrate, for more reasons than one. In universe, it’s Harley’s birthday! Out of universe, we’re celebrating Harley’s 25th anniversary. She was first introduced in Batman: The Animated Series in September 1992, making Harley the big 2-5. "Surprise Surprise" kicks off with a special oversized issue in celebration.
Here’s the official DC synopsis:
“BIRTHDAY!” It’s an oversize anniversary issue as Harley’s entire cast of crazy characters comes together to celebrate the birthday of cyborg senior citizen Sy Borgman…but is there actually a bigger secret behind this gathering? And in “Harley Loves Joker” part nine, Harley’s spent a fortune building out The Joker Gang’s new hideout, and now they’re gonna have to take drastic measures to pay the bill!
After an opening scene establishing Madison Berkowitz’s plan to end Harley once and for all, it certainly feels like we’re in celebration mode. Harley’s best buds plan a party for her under the guise of her planning a party for Sy Borgman. In addition to Sy, the party features a who’s who of Quinn’s cohorts–Red Tool, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Power Girl…the gang’s all here to pay tribute to their psychotic friend.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Harley Quinn party without lots of crazy shenanigans, overt sexual innuendo, and mortal danger. After some party classics like "Pin the Tail on the Eggy" and "Grope in the Dark," Berkowitz’s henchmen attempt to take Harley out during the party, and it’s on from there.
Perhaps the biggest reason to celebrate, though, is that artist Chad Hardin has returned to the series! Harley Quinn has been treading water visually since he stopped drawing it, bouncing between competent but disparate artists John Timms and Joseph Michael Linsner in the interim. It was a joy to see staple characters like Poison Ivy, Red Tool and of course Harley herself once again rendered in the perfectly bubbly style Hardin employs. He gets some slick action scene to draw as well, which look great. Never leave the series again!
Being an oversized issue, the main story actually got the standard 21 pages for the first time in a while, as the ‘Harley Loves Joker’ backup didn’t eat into a third of it. The backup, once again written by Palmiotti and Paul Dini with Bret Blevins on art duties, is actually a lot of fun this issue. It leaves off in an interesting place to entice readers to pick up the upcoming Harley Loves Joker #1, which is "coming soon."
Is It Good?
Happy birthday Harley! Harley Quinn #25 is a fitting celebration of both Harley Quinn the character and the mostly excellent series Conner and Palmiotti have been writing since last year. There are equal parts humor, action, and emotion that are required to create the perfect Quinn cocktail, and the return of Chad Hardin on artwork is the cherry on top. Harley fans should be smiling from ear to ear by the end of this one.