Review by Ian Keogh
Harley opening her eyes on a hospital bed and wondering what happens when we die hardly bodes well for what follows, the final outing for Sam Humphries, especially considering she was in perfect health as The Final Trial finished. Then we saw her just about to enter the wrestling world, and that’s where Hollywood or Die carries on.
Harley’s cartoon violence and colourful personality is such a natural fit with the excesses of wrestling it’s a surprise that no-one has slotted them together before, so kudos to Humphries for making the connection. Sami Basri draws the hell out of it in a great opening chapter of squared circle mayhem. That eventually leads to Harley investigating a death, which in turn leads into other daft places in the enjoyable way Humphries has excelled at throughout his run, ending up in real estate development of all places. Along the way he makes good use of Booster Gold, who was a convenient makeweight last time, and by the end of the main story there’s a really good assessment of the assorted elements of Harley’s character. Humphries has been toying with Harley as a detective, first as a funny team-up with Batman in The Trials of Harley Quinn, but throughout Hollywood or Die he actually works the idea charmingly, and there’s a real surprise at the way he connects the wrestling story with an earlier foe. And even that takes a heartbreaking turn as one of the themes is how people deal with grief.
Basri draws most of the collection, the exceptions being some guest shots on the Harley Roast, and the art is near fautless. He understands the dynamic of Harley, that to work long-term she needs to have an inner softness along with the manic energy, and he brings that out so there’s a sympathetic side to her.
The final outing is that roast, which is an excuse for Humphries to deliver a few ideas that didn’t bear expanding too far. However, over a few pages Harley as a Justice League member, Suicide Squad short, or the animated Harley work out just fine, and the art hits the spot.
The old showbusiness maxim of always leave them wanting more certainly applies to Hollywood or Die, Humphries and Basri turning out their best graphic novel of the run.