What happens when Harley Quinn gets to experience being Harleen again, just for a day? DC Comics will exercise its cruelty this December by exposing psycho Harley Quinn to a chemical which reverts her personality back to its original form, before she ever met the Joker. Things are about to get depressing.

In Suicide Squad #8, written by Rob Williams with art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams, Harley and the rest of the Squad are manipulated by General Zod’s “Black Vault,” which turns all of the Squad’s psyches inside out, making everyone but Harley into hyper, delusional bizarro-versions of themselves. Harley, who’s already the living embodiment of a mental break, experiences the Black Vault as if it were a well-prescribed cocktail of anti-psychotics. She’s fine. In fact, she’s actually better than fine.

Harleen, as she originally appeared in 'Batman: The Animated Series'
Harleen, as she originally appeared in 'Batman: The Animated Series'

Most Harley Quinn stories don’t emphasize the fact that Harley’s now iconic personality began when she met the Joker; in fact, the healthier and happier Harley who appears in Rebirth or DC’s Bombshells comics has moved on past the Joker, but is still erratic, impulsive, and candy-colored. It’s pretty much DC canon that Harley doesn’t want to return to her former self, which makes this Suicide Squad comic fascinating.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, DC’s current Harley Quinn solo comic writers, describe their character as having healthy and complex relationships with characters in Gotham. In a way, turning from Harleen into Harley gave the character access to people she may not have befriended previously, including Poison Ivy and Catwoman. Is Harley better off in her current state, or will she miss being more balanced, when Suicide Squad gives her a glimpse of what she’s lost?

Suicide Squad #8 will be available December 14.