In 2020, most everyone has heard of Harley Quinn. Whether it be the live-action movies or various cartoons or seeing her be cosplayed at their local comic con, she’s almost a staple. She has two cape designs at Six Flags Magic Mountain and is coming up on the big screen once again in Birds of Prey slated to come out this year. It’s all a pretty amazing feat for a character who originated on television and not the comics.
Despite all her exposure, though, modern fans may not know where to start getting to know the way Harley has developed over the years. And, friends, I have the answer: DC Universe’s Harley Quinn show is the one to pick up.
The DC Comics Animated Universe has always had a certain flavor that both the comics and cinematic movies tend to lack – which is a strength, considering it’s a different medium entirely. They’re action-packed and gory, and definitely not “family-friendly”. It’s adult animation, and in a really enjoyable way – think Bojack Horseman’s on-the-nose humor, but it still has that Batman: The Animated Series feel.
As of the start of 2020, DC has released five episodes onto their streaming platform which cover the set-up of the show: Harley Quinn is breaking out of Joker’s shadow (and chains) and wants to make a name for herself. And even if she doesn’t know how, she dives in headfirst from trying to gather a crew of her own when the Legion of Doom boys’ club doesn’t let her in, to performing her own major heists and trying to catch the eye of her very own arch-nemesis. And each episode is full of gags that catch you off guard. One episode features Bane calling up the Joker after seeing Harley at a big banquet party, telling him “you wouldn’t believe who’s at the [Penguin’s son’s] bar mitzvah.” The involvement of other Batman characters is actually exceedingly refreshing as well. Some of the classic Batman villains are great, sure, but when characters like a community theater reject Clayface and soft-spoken techie King Shark join Harley’s crew, it’s a welcome change.
By the fifth episode, Harley faces the questions: “Who are you?” “What do you want?” To which she’s forced to answer and learn to rebuild herself as she is now. It’s important, and relatable to anyone who’s had a major life change that forced them to learn something new about themselves. And to see that in a character who is so obviously a villain really puts the cherry on the cake.
The only thing we could ask to see next is Harley teaming up with more gals like in the aforementioned Birds of Prey. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see Harley get pushed out from the guys in the Legion of Doom and then start her own crew of butt-kicking women? Here’s hoping the rest of the season delivers, and maybe even a second season if the show does well. One thing is for sure – watching Harley Quinn’s solo show is almost guaranteed to make you love her more.
The first episode was previously available on YouTube for free on the DC YouTube channel but has since been taken down for unknown reasons. You can still check for episode recaps and bonus snippets on their channel, though, so maybe with enough interest they’ll re-upload the (reasonably bleeped) pilot for interested viewers to catch. Or you can just sign up for DC Universe’s subscription plan and get access to all the DC goodness located within.