Image: DC Comics

Harley Quinn just returned to Earth after an intergalactic adventure that threw her head-first into the world of the New Gods, but she might not have a home to go back to if a greedy Coney Island real estate developer gets his way. Writer Sam Humphries began his run on Harley Quinn with a three-issue story that was Jack Kirby by way of Chuck Jones, using the technology of the New Gods to give Harley Quinn the power to go toe-to-toe with cosmic beings like Granny Goodness and the Female Furies. It was a smart way for Humphries to spotlight the voice he would bring to the character, but now it’s time for him to bring back familiar faces from the book’s supporting cast and incorporate a new player: Petite Tina, a warrior from Apokolips getting a fresh start on a new planet.

This exclusive preview of this week’s Harley Quinn #48 has Harley and Tina rushing in to stop the demolition crew from leveling her home, but gentrification is just one of the big villains in this two-parter. Lord Death Man is also causing trouble in Coney Island, and introducing this character highlights Humphries’ commitment to superhero deep cuts while also creating a new storytelling opportunity. This book plays around with comic-book history through short comic-strip interludes imagining Harley comics of past eras, suggesting we might get Harley in manga mode as she fights a villain best known for his appearance in a Japanese Batman serial.

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This is Alisson Borges’ first issue of Harley Quinn, and he’s a great match for the tone of Humphries’ story and Gabe Eltaeb’s highly rendered coloring. Borges’ characterizations are appropriately cartoonish, but the bombast has been considerably toned down from John Timms’ art for the New Gods story to create a more grounded setting. So much of this book’s manic energy comes from Dave Sharpe’s lettering, animating the word balloons by changing typeface and coloring as a way to emphasize words and phrases much more dramatically than a simple bold font. Sharpe’s lettering is a key component in both the book’s visual aesthetic and dialogue rhythm, and he accentuates the expression of both the script and the artwork.