In July, Sam Humphries is taking Harley Quinn in a new direction, keeping the book's humor and fun, but putting the character on a collision course with different elements of the DCU.
First up? Harley's going to Apokolips, where she'll deal with Granny Goodness and the Female Furies, as well as some other surprises.
Working with artist John Timms, Humphries will take over the book with Harley Quinn #45 on July 4th. After the first three-issue story in Apokolips, the book will feature other artists.
Humphries, who's worked on recent DC titles like Green Lanterns, Nightwing and Batman: The Dawnbreaker, said recent events like Dark Nights: Metal have highlighted how crazy and fun even serious comic books can be. In some ways, the writer said, the DCU has grown closer to Harley, and "now it's almost as if we're going to assert her dominance as the queen of comedy and mayhem in the DC Universe."
Newsarama talked to Humphries to find out more about his new approach, why Jack Kirby's Fourth World works so well as a backdrop for Harley, and what readers can expect next.
Newsarama: Sam, was taking over Harley a surprise gift?
Sam Humphries: I know, right? I did not see it coming when Dan [DiDio] approached me about it. I was completely taken aback and blindsided, but in all the best ways.
Nrama: Now, we've seen writer switches before and there wasn't a huge change. Are you keeping the status quo, or are you bringing something new to the title?
Humphries: This is a whole new run. Jimmy and Amanda had a fantastic, hang-it-in-the-rafters, five-year run, and we're going to build on that.
But this is a place for new readers to jump on. It's also a place for last readers to jump on, and it's a place for people who've been reading faithfully what Amanda and Jimmy have been doing to continue with the "adventures of Harley in the same vein."
But we're definitely taking some pieces and figuring out how we can twist them and show people things that they haven't seen before.
Nrama: OK, what does that mean for the title? If you had to do an elevator pitch about your idea for Harley Quinn, what is it?
Humphries: The way we're looking at this is to focus this book back on the core, which is the character of Harley Quinn, one of the most famous and popular comic book characters in the world.
And one of the best ways to illustrate what a character's about is to put them on a collision course with another character or environment that's different from what they are, so we're putting her on a collision course with a lot of different elements of the DCU.
The Harley book has been in a bubble for awhile, and that's been great, because there have been some fantastic Harley stories coming out of it.
But the DC Universe is a wild and woolly place, as we've seen in stories like DC Universe: Metal and other places.
In some ways, the DCU has grown closer to Harley, and now it's almost as if we're going to assert her dominance as the queen of comedy and mayhem in the DC Universe.
Nrama: Where are you taking Harley first, and what kind of characters will she brush up against?
Humphries: The very place we're going is Apokolips, which is core to the concept of legacy and legend of the DCU. And it's a place that Harley's never been before.
We've never seen a character like this invade Apokolips. And there are so many great and fantastic characters and concepts up there that are very formal and iconic, and Harley, in a broad sense, kind of serves as a pin to the balloon that is Apokolips and all who live there.
Nrama: This is in continuity, right? I think Darkseid is busy elsewhere right now, although I'm sure there are other characters that would interest Harley on Apokolips.
Humphries: This book is 100 percent in continuity.
In terms of who is there, we see Granny Goodness right on the first page. And then on Page 6, we start to see the Female Furies. And it just builds and builds from there.
As far as Darkseid… there are definitely some surprises coming up in this little three-issue arc that people are not going to see coming.
Nrama: I love the idea of Harley coming up against the Furies. So it's obviously still going to have humor, since it's Harley. Is it not quite as, I don't know, slapstick? Is the humor changing?
Humphries: Yes. Is it still a funny book? Absolutely, it's still a funny book. Harley Quinn as a character and as a book has a license to do things that the rest of the DC Universe can't get away with.
I'm going to take that license and I'm going to run with it until they revoke it!
There is absolutely no point in making Harley Quinn as sane as the rest of the DC Universe. She stands apart, but stands with these other characters. And by interacting with them, she can illuminate them in ways that we've never seen before.
On top of which, it's great just to have comedy books. Things like Justice League International, Ambush Bug, the Lobo stuff from the '90s… I just happened to accidentally name three Keith Giffen books, but these books are part of the legacy of DC Comics, but are also funny and take a slightly skewed view of what's going on.
These are some of my favorite, most treasured comic books of all time, and I think that there's a real benefit to having them around. They're entertaining as hell.
Nrama: With Amanda being a part of its launch, this book as a strong background of artwork.
Humphries: Oh my gosh, yes.
Nrama: Yeah. What's the art going to look like as you take over?
Humphries: The art is going to be beautiful, because I'm not drawing it.
Nrama: I see John Timms listed on the first few issues. He's done work on the character before, right?
Humphries: Yes, he did work on Amanda and Jimmy's run. He's done fantastic work before, but here, he's really coming into his own as a superstar.
And particularly with this material, it takes a real strong artist to draw these Kirby concepts and Kirby designs of the Fourth World, yet still make it funny. And he really nailed it.
And that's the vibe we're going for in this run.
Nrama: Is he the ongoing artist?
Humphries: We have other artists coming onto the book, but I don't think we're ready to announce it yet. We've already got some additional artists, and I couldn't be more excited about them.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about Harley Quinn as you take over in July?
Humphries: Harley is one of the biggest characters in the DCU, and we take that very seriously. We know she's beloved by fans, and we love her too. And we're really excited to deliver a new run, a new era of Harley that builds on what came before, builds on the fantastic run that happened before us, and takes her into new places and shows new things about the character that we didn't know before.