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COMIC SERIES REVIEW

Batman and Harley Quinn
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: Weekly Digital Comic Series, Weekly from July 2017 - December 2017; Hardcover Collection - March 7, 2018

Synopsis: Head back to the universe of Batman: The Animated Series in Batman and Harley Quinn!

Harley Quinn's name has always been synonymous with The Joker. The wacky duo has wreaked havoc upon the streets of Gotham as the Clown Prince and Princess of Crime, and caused mayhem together while truly, deeply, madly in love. But when The Joker pushes Harley's buttons, she rats him out to Batman himself! Before Batman can haul Harley off to Arkham Asylum, her best friend Poison Ivy swoops in and rescues her. Harley and Ivy soon begin a plot of their own against Batman.

Harley just wants to have a little fun while she and Ivy scheme against Bats...but all-business Ivy isn't having it. Harley sets out to prove that she's more than Mistah J's henchwoman and Ivy's lackey. Can Harley make a name for herself and prove that she's no one's sidekick?

Featuring stories by author Ty Templeton (Batman and Robin Adventures) and Rick Burchett (Batman Adventures). Collects Batman and Harley Quinn chapters #1-7 and Harley Quinn and Batman chapters #1-5.


Batman and Harley Quinn Comic Review
By James Harvey

Divided up into two stories - a prequel and a sequel to the animated movie of the same name - the Batman and Harley Quinn digital comic series is a mostly successful affair, with interesting character moments and action beats hindered only by inconsistent art. Expanding on the assorted plot threads of the DC Universe Animated Original Movie of the same name, the comic title takes some pretty big steps for Batman and Harley Quinn's core cast of characters, covering the time-frames of right before the events of Batman and Harley Quinn to shortly thereafter. While the quality does take a couple dips, the strong overall writing and interesting character developments make this series a worthwhile read.

Breaking things down, the first five issues of the digital series tell one complete tale - the events leading up to the animated Batman and Harley Quinn movie - while the remaining seven are a series of short stories dealing with the film's fallout. There's an underlying thread which connects all these shorts stories, five in total plus a two-part tale where Harley finds herself wrangled up with the Suicide Squad. All in all, these sequel stories place the characters in some pretty interesting situations that warrant a future follow-up.

The first five stories, which fall under the Harley Quinn and Batman banner, nicely lead into the animated movie. Taking place roughly a year before Batman and Harley Quinn, characters and story beats are put into place that come fully to light in the movie itself. Harley and The Joker have an epic falling out that once and for all puts an end to their chaotic relationship, Poison Ivy is meeting with the Floronic Man behind Harley Quinn's back (which leads to the inevitable dissolution of her and Ivy's relationship), we meet Poison Ivy's disco-loving henchmen, all the while Batman and Nightwing are dancing around the outskirts, inching closer and closer to the world-threatening plan Poison Ivy is about to unleash in the Batman and Harley Quinn animated movie.

One of the best aspects about the prequel tale is how well it sets up Harley's status quo for the animated movie. The fifth issue is particularly effective and does a fantastic job in selling just howfrustrared Harley is of her current situation and how she finds it needs to end. It's a difficult story to sell, given the character's history, but writer Ty Templeton does a really admirable job in convincing the reader that there is no other way for Harley to go. It also nicely bridges that gap for the character between her final appearances in Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Adventures to the Batman and Harley Quinn animated movie. It's a story that reads stronger in one sitting than as staggered installments.

In the midst of all of this, we get some nice callbacks to Batman: The Animated Series and even to the previous animated comics themselves. The Condiment King returns in a hilarious extended cameo, as does Catwoman, and some of Gotham's more colorful and well-known henchmen make an appearance during a quirky poker game. Also, we see Nightwing finally ditch that mullet!

Following that, we then get the fallout with the seven issues that fall under the Batman and Harley Quinn banner. Oddly enough, the Nightwing and Batman-focused stories are likely the weakest of the bunch, but by no means does that mean they're not worth reading - they are. It's just, when compared to the stellar Floronic Man and Poison Ivy entries, they are a little light (though the Nightwing tale does offer a nice look at the famed former sidekick and includes a hilarious callback to the villain bar in the Batman and Harley Quinn movie). The Floronic Man tale finds the villain at the mercy of the Parliament of Trees and actually builds out what the movie introduced with the Swamp Thing cameo, resulting in a dramatic, dark story. As for the Poison Ivy entry, it sets that character on a new path that could result in a, intriguing new status quo going forward. Harley is the focus of two stories, a single issue tale as she attempts to get back on her toes, and a second where she runs afoul of Task Force X. Both interesting stories that end up not where you'd expect.

Much like the story, the artwork also has some peaks and lows. The artwork by Batman and Harley Quinn main artist Rick Burchett (who worked on multiple Adventures titles for DC Comics) appears scratchy and rushed, and at times incomplete. Some panels seem hastily composed with some characters appearing as faint caricatures of their established design. It's a surprising turn from a reliably solid, polished artist. The art-team for Batman and Harley Quinn is a round table of fantastic talent. Craig Rousseau (who previously penciled the first ongoing Batman Beyond comic title) returns to the animated universe here and remains in top form. Sandy Jarrell's gritter take on the established animated style absolutely soars, and David Hahn's pencil work proves to be an off-model but still stylish rendition. Dario Brizuela (Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Batman: The Brave and The Bold) also returns to the animated universe with his on-model, clean style, bringing a light, positive spin to the series. The MVP of the entire 12-issue series, however, is undoubtedly Luciano Vecchio (Beware the Batman, Green Lantern: The Animated Series) with his dynamic and simply eye-popping artwork. Really, really gorgeous stuff.

Even with its handful of problems, it's refreshing to see new installments of the Batman adventures titles. Along with the recent Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, both recent titles have resulted in some pretty big stories for the characters involved that, if you include them in the ongoing DCAU continuity, make some major steps in the world. And if you don't count them as in-continuity, they're still pretty fun adventures in a familiar world, even if they don't "count."

For those who enjoyed Batman and Harley Quinn, or just want to see more adventures in the "animated universe" or style, DC Comics' 12-issue Batman and Harley Quinn comic series is a worthwhile adventure. While the story may fall short on occasion, and the art occasionally tepid, there's plenty of great content to be found. There are moments when both the story and artwork really sing, and the series is littered with great character beats and progression. It may not be an absolute smash, but it's a solid effort that fans should make the time for. Recommended!

"Batman and Harley Quinn" is currently available digitally from DC Comics - divided as a five-issue "Harley Quinn and Batman" series and a seven-issue "Batman and Harley Quinn" series - with hardcover and softcover collections soon to be released.


Check out more preview pages from the comic series by clicking here!

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