As I’ve noted before, I will never, ever shut up about the animated HARLEY QUINN show.

However, this is about the off-shoot comic series: HARLEY QUINN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, of which the first volume — “The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour” — fills in the space between the second and third seasons, fleshing out the honeymoon period between Harley and Ivy. It’s penned by Tee Franklin (who willed the amazing Black elder queer comic BINGO LOVE into the world) with art by Max Sarin (John Allison’s GIANT DAYS — whose BOBBINS webcomic I dearly miss but also, goddamn, just let your eyes stare at how brilliantly that cover is designed), colors by Marissa Louise and lettered by Taylor Esposito, all working at the height of their powers.

I’ve spilled a lot of words about the TV show, but I came to this off-shoot with a bit of reluctance. I’ve been burned by so many opportunistic print cash-ins so many times, but figured I’d give it a go.

Reader: it’s amazing.

It’s even filthier and sexier and emotional than the show, but still sensitive and never exploitative. Franklin knows how to handle intimacy and physical wants and needs and exploration in a mannered way that feels both controlled but also raw.

While the show’s visuals are far more expressive than most animated shows, Sarin takes this to the next level. Everyone speaks through their eyes and mouths and arms, and Harley is constantly throwing herself around, and both Harles’ and Ive’s hair curls so beautifully and I sparkle through each and every page. Every panel is something I revel to.

I don’t want to ignore Marissa Lousie’s work, which is marvelously restrained while also being vibrant, or Esposito’s work, which is significantly nuanced until it shouldn’t be.

However, what’s most notable is that, while Harley’s name is on the cover, this is mostly about telling Ivy’s side of their romance and detailing how she feels about (spoiler alert) Kite Man and her breaking up at their own wedding, and reconciling her own personal trauma via her childhood, the latter of which is never quite touched on in the show (and Harley is too myopic to ask about). It’s a perfect exploration of an already brilliant journey.

If you are a fan of the show, or even if you aren’t — you can go in completely blind and they’ll explicitly catch you up — it’s an absolute delight of a read.



As I’ve been easing myself back into the world of comic books for the third or fourth time in my life, I forgot that there are some protagonists who are malleable, vessels for a writer to explore their own issues and fixations.

This won’t quite happen to iconic characters like Batman — who will always be a self-serious, but angsty, vigilante — but it happens often with other peripheral characters.

Harley Quinn is one of those characters. The Harley I love from the Harley Quinn animated series is far removed from the one I first saw on the animated Batman show, and also quite different from the one I saw in BIRDS OF PREY, and also a bit skewed in the first HARLEY QUINN: HOT IN THE CITY collection I picked up, not to mention the BATMAN / HARLEY & IVY deluxe collection I just read.

Granted, it makes sense; Harley is mercurial and impetuous. Her flights of fancy will always work from a character perspective because she’s goddamn manic and easily influenced, but still smart enough to shut shit down when necessary.

At least, that’s the Harley I like most. That’s the Harley I identify most with.

The opening salvo in HOT IN THE CITY underscores her versatility: it features a litany of different artists given two or so pages to detail their own specific take on Harley, although it was all penned by writer/artist Amanda Conner and writer/inker Jimmy Palmiotti. (I’ll note that they’re married, so a perfect creative team!)

Reader: it gave me whiplash.

I realize that was the intent, but this was the first Harley Quinn book for me, and it felt like I was reading Keith Giffen’s AMBUSH BUG. (Yeah, I realize I’m doing no favors with that deep cut.)

Thankfully, the remaining issues fall into something closer to the Harley I’m familiar with: she’s coupled up with Ivy and they meet Sy and matters delightfully escalate in violent, but amusing ways. I can see how much the animated show leaned on Conner & Palmiotti’s groundwork, however, they still managed to make it their own by digging into more interpersonal dynamics.

While I do grouse about the introductory issue — I just wish they’d just moved it to the end of the collection, because it does feel like self-indulgent back-matter — this is a great way to dip your toes into this world and I don’t regret it.



This is a brutal six issues penned by Eisner nominated Magdalene Visaggio and illustrated by Sonny Liew of an Orlando-esque being who feels they have lived too long, and they just want to die but cannot. It is a very maudlin series that perfectly fits several mindsets.

The colors are pitch-perfect, it’s lettered by Todd fucking Klein, and the inks are heavy; it’s Vertigo 100% of the way. (If you’re too young: Vertigo is the the DC imprint Young Animal mimics!)

But goddamn: the paneling.

The fucking panel work is amazing.

It recalls the amazingly dynamic graphic work in Alan Moore’s PROMETHEA, by the ever-astounding J.H. Williams III, but absolutely peppered with Kirby dots.

I have no idea how much of that’s in the script, but holy hell, it’s astounding. It’s all about splintering and feeling fractured and it’s literally there splayed across the page: the sides you show to people, the facets, and it’s right there in the visual storytelling.

Like I said, it’s brutal, but it is a very worthwhile read.


My apologies in advance for posting yet again about HARLEY QUINN but I will never, ever shut up about this show.

It is not only a paragon of comedic entertainment, with a joke-per-minute count that puts ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT to shame, it features some of the most thrilling and cartoonishly squeamish scenes that would make Sam Raimi jealous, it dives head-first into some of the thorniest depictions of trauma — seriously, the first season’s Bensonhurst should be on every screenwriting syllabus — and it has one of the best penned romances of television time. (Suck it, Jim & Pam.)

And it does all of this under the umbrella of the scattershot DC universe somehow.

I’ll note that the show has radically changed over its three seasons: the first season was fundamentally about Harley separating herself from the abuse of the Joker and finding a supportive network. The second season was about her finding herself and reconciling her history. The third kind of blew up her support network, but also (finally) found her living her best queer life with her love Poison Ivy.

That’s a lot for a show to tear off, much less do well, and manage to do so in gut-busting way.

A bit of a sidenote: I think a lot of people get a tad too hung up over ‘being Harley’ or ‘being Ivy’, in the stupid way everyone in the 90s felt the need to label themselves as a Seinfeld or Sex and the City character. (I still don’t understand why anyone would want to self-identify with those hateful people, but it’s not for me to judge. Well, maybe a little, unless you’re a Samantha because she’s the best.)

What I love about the series — and what makes this special so very special — is that the characters are far more complicated than base archetypes. I can’t help but identify with both. I’m the filthy over-eager people-pleaser that Harley is, but I am also frequently misanthropic and want to do nothing but watch my stories and retreat from the world because I also hate everyone and everything. (Nothing personal!)

However, they make it work. They’re loving, but also have to be constantly mindful of each other’s needs.

That’s one of the great things about this show: it’s one of the first non-John Waters works I’ve seen that celebrates horniness, even against a culture that actively tries to beat it down. (Pun intended.) This episode is wall-to-wall horny in a celebratory way, in the way that I wish sex was more popularly portrayed. It’s mostly about Harley buying drugs to give Ivy the best orgasm of her life — which leads to one of the best lines of the show: “Oh you cannot possibly be mad about me wanting to get you off too good. THAT IS NOT A THING!

Even us damaged folk want to get our freak on, and this show helps to normalize that.

And then there’s Bane! Kaiju Bane, fucking every building he sees because he took some bad drugs! Literally laying waste to the world, and it’s hilarious.

This show is bonkers, but also manages to be one of the most grounded works out there. I’m so tired of seeing poorly-penned 20-something relationships in media, and HARLEY QUINN gives us something meaningful and substantive, while also being narratively interesting!

I’d like to note that Alan Sepinwall is also extolling the show’s virtues (or, err, lack there of?) so I’m not alone:


Cripes, I didn’t even get to mention all of the WHEN HARRY MET SALLY riffs. Also: ETRIGAN and his rhymes?! And their V-Day hairdos! Just watch the damn ep — it speaks for itself!