That’s right, it’s been a quarter of a century since the mischievous minx of mayhem was first unleashed onto an unsuspecting comic book universe, much to the chagrin of most Superheroes, but conversely to the delight of millions of comic book fans, for Harley truly is… one of the greatest characters ever conceived, and if you don’t agree, then The Joker would like to have a word with you!
Former psychiatrist, Dr Harleen Quinzel was originally an Arkham Asylum intern who, after prolonged psychology sessions with crazed clown The Joker, was coerced into thinking that Batman was the ultimate cause of Joker’s insanely murderous high jinks. Slowly falling in love with the irascible psychotic, Harleen eventually aided the mirthful murderer to escape the asylum and joined him on his insane crusade to dispense madness and murder on the populace of Gotham City.
Ms Quinn was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm and actually made her first ever appearance outside of the comic book format, on the critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, in an episode titled “Joker’s Favour”. Actress Arleen Sorkin was Paul Dini’s original inspiration for the clown princess of crime, after he saw her in an episode of Days Of Our Lives, in which she appeared in a dream sequence wearing a Jester outfit. Dini and Sorkin had been friends since college, and he even incorporated certain facets of her personality into the character.
Though initially brought in as a throw away character, Harley proved so massively popular with the DC fanbase that she was ultimately brought into DC Universe continuity in the 1994 graphic novel “Batman Adventures: Mad Love” which recounted her wacky origin tale, and was written and drawn by original co-creators Dini and Timm.
Harley of course has, since that time, become a force to be reckoned with both in and out of the comic book world, starring in both animated and live action movies, and is also without a doubt, THE most most popular choice for depiction amongst cos-players across the globe.
Hellacious Harley’s quarter century celebrations begin with (aptly) “Harley Quinn Rebirth #25″, an oversized issue of Ms Quinn’s mega popular monthly series. Written by the masters of mirth – Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with a back up story by Harley’s co-creator Paul Dini.
This really is one of the funniest HQ comics released to date, an hilarious issue packed with action, suspense, sentimentality… and beaver jokes (well of course there are beaver jokes… it’s a Harley comic by those masterly mirthful maestros Amanda and Jimmy!) In fact, as great as all the tales jam packed into this issue are (Paul Dini making a triumphant return to his creation obviously being a stand out) it was the ridiculously brilliant birthday chapter by Amanda and her hubby Jimmy that I enjoyed the most. I mean, let’s be honest, BEAVER jokes are sooooo childish and ever so slightly politically incorrect but, under the direction of the dynamic duo of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti they are hilarious and had me giggling and snorting like a school child (much to the consternation of the other patrons in the cafe I was reading it in!!)
Happy 25th Anniversary To Our Favourite Clown Princess!
(Please Note: No beavers were hurt during the writing of this post… just tossed, stuffed, kidnapped and made fun of… so that’s OK then!)
At the beginning of the 90’s DC Comics and Warner Bros entered a renaissance period in animation when it aired the much loved ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ in 1992. The highly praised and award winning show was co-created by the inimitable Bruce Timm and Eric Ramdoski, the series was complex and explored themes oft unseen in Superhero cartoons previous to it’s existence. A dark and emotional ride with a noticeable film noir style, it ably captured the moodiness and angst of its titular star with consummate ease, and cogently drew influence from Tim Burton’s cinematic foray into Gotham lore, in the Michael Keaton starring ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’.
The series was more adult oriented than previous comic-book animations, and was noteworthy for its voice casting especially one character in particular, The Joker, voiced sublimely by Mark Hamill. Hamill has been a fan and critic favourite since then as the Clown Prince Of Crime and has gone on to voice the Genocidal Jester in both animated films and video-games adaptations. The series was also the progenitor of the shared animated universe and brought into it’s continuity timeline ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ and ‘Justice League’ with each sharing the show’s distinctive art style.
In 2004 a sequel to the popular ‘Justice League’ series was produced, ‘Justice League Unlimited’ continued the shared universe begun by the Batman animated original, but added a veritable army of characters to the original JL roster. In fact the first episode of the new show contained over 50 characters, some of them were previously included in a guest starring spot on Justice League, but most were making their debut appearance in animated form.
The popular series ran for three seasons and left the viewer with many memorable storylines, including a long running romantic entanglement between Batman and Wonder Woman, and a complex love triangle for Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Vixen, these story beats added an emotional depth to the characters and show itself and were quite often more compelling than any of the superheroics on display.
DC and Warner Bros have produced a plethora of animated shows and movies since JLU, with the most popular of more recent times being ‘Young Justice’. The series follows the teenage sidekicks and heroes of the DC Universe as they attempt to establish themselves as superheroes, but also focuses on their adolescent dramas and personal issues. The show is aimed squarely at the teenage market, yet fans of all ages have found themselves drawn to the animated antics of Robin, Superboy, Miss Martian et al, thanks to fantastic scripting and a genuinely uplifting and heartwarming ethos.
DC and Warner Bros’ newest animated series ‘Justice League Action’ will attempt to recapture their peers’ animated triumphs when it airs on the Cartoon Network on December 16 this year (though it has already aired on UK television). It’s been 10 years since Justice League Unlimited ceased and DC are hoping to once again produce yet another exemplary, industry leading cartoon showcase of their legendary creations. Returning voice actors from the 90’s shows include; Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker, James Woods as Lex Luthor, and Brent Spiner will be voicing Batman’s conundrum posing enigma The Riddler.
Celebrate the creation of everyone’s favourite mischievous misfit Harley Quinn with this definitive collection of her misadventures. Former Psychiatrist Dr Harleen Quinzel was originally an Arkham Asylum intern, who after prolonged interviews with the Joker decided that it was the Batman himself who was the cause of Joker’s anger and insanity. Gradually falling in love with the irascible psychotic, Harleen eventually helped the Clown Prince Of Crime escape the asylum and joined him on his crusade to dispense murder and madness to the streets of Gotham.
Harley was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series titled “Joker’s Favour.” Her role was originally conceived as a mere walk on part, but she ultimately proved so popular with the audience that she was granted a larger role as the Joker’s main sidekick and potential love interest as the animated series continued its Emmy award winning run. Harley’s first comic book debut was in issue 12 of The Batman Adventures, where she appeared alongside veteran Bat-Villains Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Her origin story was laid out for the first time in the 1994 Paul Dini penned one-shot “Mad Love” but it wasn’t until 1999 that she was officially accepted into mainstream DC Universe continuity with “Batman: Harley Quinn #1″
On July 28, DC Comics will release the ultimate tribute to the Clown Princess Of Crime with this 200 page collection of some of her most enduring adventures. The Joker’s main gal takes centre stage as DC collects together some of her greatest tales from throughout her 23 year reign as DC’s consummate ‘bad-girl’ character. This anthology collects together for the first time; Batman: Harley Quinn #1, Gotham Knights #14, #30, Detective Comics #831, 837, Batman: Black And White #1, #3, Joker’s Asylum II: Harley Quinn, Legends Of The Dark Knight: 100 page Spectacular and Detective Comics #23.2.
The 200 page ultimate Harley Quinn compilation will be available in softcover and digital format on July 28 at your local comic book emporium, and is the definitive look at the Queen of Chaos and a great way to familiarise yourself with a character that in 2016 will be making her first ever big screen appearance in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” movie.
Harley Quinn: Copyright – DC Comics.