Warning: SPOILERS for Harley Quinn #55
When Harley Quinn’s family drops in unannounced during the holidays, their (predictable) dysfunction ruins all of Harley’s party planning. But there’s a good reason for their impromptu Quinzel Family Christmas... Harley’s mother has cancer.
The past year hasn’t been an easy one for Harley: after her vacation from Hell on Apokolips, and tangling with Lord Death Man, she was faced with breaking the entire DC Universe. On top of all that, it’s beginning to look as if Poison Ivy - Harley’s bestest friend and occasionally lover - was a victim of the deadly mass shooting at the superhero retreat, Sanctuary. What Harley needs most right now is some holiday cheer. Instead, she's been hit with a family crisis that will hit close to home for plenty of DC readers.
Her family’s unexpected visit in Harley Quinn #55 brings with it more chaos than cheer. Harley’s dad breaks her one-of-a-kind collectible chair from Santa Saves The Multiverse, and her brothers destroy her ice sculpture, wreck all the food, and set the tree on fire! But just as Harley’s going off on them for ruining Christmas, they drop the bombshell - their mother, Sharon, has been diagnosed with cancer and they’ve been waiting for the right moment to break the news to Harley.
Lately, Harley’s family has had a larger presence in her solo series, appearing several times when either her parents visit Coney Island or she goes back home. In particular, Harley’s relationship with her mother has received a lot of attention, with several scenes of Harley getting advice from her mother as her life continues to be one long, crazy carnival. These scenes have depicted a very loving and understanding relationship between mother and daughter, disputing the idea that in order for Harleen to transform into Harley Quinn, she must have been neglected or come from a broken home.
In fact, the way in which Harley’s family is represented in this issue is typical of a lot of folks’ families - especially around the holidays. When faced with such devastating news, many will put on a happy face and pretend that everything is just fine. Then, inevitably, as the hectic holiday runs its course, the act falls apart as issues are forced to be faced head on. Even if the Quinzels have more of a reason to worry about Harley overreacting than most - a point this comic illustrates with an aside of Harley, fantastizing about murdering the doctor after learning of her mother's diagnosis.
In the end, Harley and her mother again share a heart-to-heart as the older Ms. Quinzel calms down her fretting daughter. She also talks Harley out of a wild scheme to steal Superman’s blood in order cure the cancer (which, y’know, could maybe work). But receiving a Kryptonian blood transfusion isn’t really an option for many (or anyone, really). Which means Harley and her family will need to face this cancer the same as anyone else: together.
Harley Quinn #55 is now available from DC Comics.