Hey everyone! I just finished watching the first season of DC Universe’s new animated series “Harley Quinn.” Well; “just” meaning Saturday, February 22, 2020 for me. For you, it would be something a like…….whenever this goes up. Probably like……Monday, I’ll assume? Tuesday? I had originally planned for the first New Series Recommendation post to go up on that day, but this happened first, so, by the law of clicks; I had to “strike while the iron was hot!” Or something like that.
This series focused on the titular Harley Quinn character; one of DC’s most popular. Ever sine her debut in the episode of the LEGENDARY “Batman: The Animated series,” “Mad Love.” Since then; she has been tied intrinsically to the Joker. This series expands her from that, like in recent years. She’s been drifting further and further away from the Joker since that episode, and this series is takes that extremely literal.
It starts with Harley in her very first costume, helping the Joker on one of his schemes. But it shows that she’s already starting to think “I want to do things my way.” Although, considering this is an R rated streaming series; it’s uncensored. I always laughed at hearing these characters cursing. Like in Joker’s first appearance on the show; he was disguised as some rich white guy on a yacht. And he makes fun of this stereotype by saying they “F*ck the poor.” A joke but……kinda true. And then we get into the first big battles between Joker and Harley and Batman. Joker uses Harley as a distraction and gets away, leaving Harley stranded in Arkham for over a year.
During this time, we meet Harley’s best friend; Poison Ivy. In case you guys didn’t know; these guys were “f*ck buddies” in a few forms of media. Then again; so were Harley and Deadshot in various others. I guess Quinn’ll swing at anything! But that’s not the case here; they’re just friends. I had my own theory at the beginning that they would “experiment” at the end of the season, and next season have a plot line that dealt with that. But I’m glad to say: I was wrong! I think that was the best choice for this series; it didn’t just capitalize on the idea of 2 hot girls as Lesbians. Not that I have a problem with sexualizing characters(look at comic book Starfire, people!), but it could end up as a negative when that’s the main selling point.
Harley’s arc this season is about her moving on from her toxic relationship with the Joker. It starts with denial; rather than help the other Arkham criminals come up with escape plans, she decides to sit still and wait for the Clown Prince to break her out. Until the day when Riddler sneaks in an Orange seed(he “sh!ts it out” he says), and Ivy breaks everyone out. Harley doesn’t want to leave , as the Joker will “wonder” where she is. But Ivy says “F*ck THAT” and busts her out anyway. She then goes to find the Joker, thus restarting the cycle all over again. She gets kidnapped by the Riddler, along with Batman. Giving Joker a choice: Save Harley, the “love of his life,” or his favorite playmate? Joker chooses Batman, reminding Harley of this scene her ego created to protect her: Joker’s “proposal.”
What she had thought happened was Joker proposed to her, but it was actually him saying saying all that lovely cr@p to Batman. And, like in that episode of the award winning series, Harley realizes: “It’s always been Batman.” UNLIKE in that series, however; she doesn’t take this to mean “Get rid of Batman and live happily ever after with ‘Mistah J.'” She realizes that Batman is the only one Joker cares about, so she decides to walk away from him. Only realizing this after Ivy called in a favor from the Riddler to arrange this “intervention.” So Harley goes back to him-but not to make up; to prove to herself she’s not going back. She beats up Joker and his thugs, and moves in with Ivy.
Ivy is also a character of interest. This series portrays her as a lonely girl who turned to plants because they couldn’t hurt her the way humans did. She also doesn’t identify as a villain; whereas most would wear that title like a badge, she rejects the title, and instead identify’s as an “eco-terrorist.” Which still has the word “terrorist” in it, but I guess that still doesn’t qualify her as a villain. She also “doesn’t think human beings are worth a sh!t.” This is a very blunt Poison Ivy, everyone. Harley being the sole exception. For this reason; she gives Harley all sorts of advice;advice she of course ignores until the end of the episodes. Formulaic? Yeah. But like Black Clover has shown us; “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it!” Well; Tabata uses the shonen formula, but he just puts the cliche’s in the right places. But that’s a story for another day.
Another part of the show was Harley making a name for herself as a villain. Criteria being: a hideout, an arch enemy, and big scale crimes. She managed to get the first 2 down, but she still hasn’t found an arch enemy. You could always make the claim “Joker is her arch enemy,” but the way Batman and Joker are written ties them together intrinsically. The Damian Wayne iteration of Robin(played by Jacob Tremblay) tried to make them a thing(in a hero/villain way; not romantically), but it never really happened. Mostly because he hasn’t gone through puberty yet. Seriously; his balls haven’t dropped yet! He sounds like a f*cking toddler! And Harley doesn’t do the “Fighting kids” thing. I like to think that they’ll bring in a new voice actor for Damian, and give him a more comic-accurate design, and THEN………..maybe they’ll talk.
In one episode; Harley hangs around the newly freed Queen of Fables(played by the amazing Wanda Sykes). Someone who had grown to be somewhat of a mentor to Harley. She had been trapped in a children’s book following a battle with the Justice League(they don’t had anything DC related in this show, which we’ll discuss later). She’s……she’s like a stereotype black grandma: foul mouth but will pop you if you repeat the words, always complaining, got a comment for every d@mn thing, and smokes. And before you say anything; No, I am NOT racist. I can say this because I have family members like that! I’ve seen them first hand. Anyway; Queen gets out, but is being taken to Arkham to serve out the rest of her sentence.
Harley saves her, with some protest from Ivy. Why? In Ivy’s own words: “Harley; you’re a bad guy, but you’re a good person. The Queen of Fables is a LEGIT Bad Guy.” Harley is opposed to society’s rules, but she does the right thing when she needs to(or feels like it). Queen of Fables is……….look at it like this; Harley is PG13 villain, while Queen is HARD R RATED. When they broke into a government facility; Queen had to “distract” a family that JUST SO HAPPENED to have their Family reunion in a nearby park. You know what the Queen of Fables does? Let me tell you, RJ Writing Ink and Mammoth Base Opera Castle(I’m assuming their the only 2 reading right now. If I’m wrong; leave a comment): She summoned The Big Bad Wolf from all those stories you heard as a little kid, and tells it to eat the whole d@mn family. Why even the kids?
She’s an experienced villain; she’s lived the same story, over and over again. She knows that if you don’t end the WHOLE bloodline, then one is gonna either get superpowers from who-the-f*ck-knows-where, or train meticulously and come to claim your head. She. Is. OVER IT. So she just thought it best to exterminate the whole family; bones and all. But Big Bad missed one, and THAT guy got superpowers from the electric fence by the park when he tried to kill himself. Why? IN STORY: Young Justice reveals that all humans contain a “Meta gene” that will activate in times of stress. OUT OF STORY: To validate her point and make a joke. She kills him by the end of the episode, though.
I really like the voice acting in this series, also. Kaley Cuoco does a really good Harley Quinn(I mean; she’s no Tara Strong, but then who is?). She’s just tough enough to let you know “Don’t f*ck with me,” but just sweet enough to be adorable. Even though he’s my least favorite character in the whole show; Clayface’s voice actor Alun Tudyk did a good job with what he had. At the very least; Clayface had life and personality. Tudyk also does a pretty fre@kin’ good Joker. My favorite portrayal of Joker is, of course, Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series, and my favorite version is from The Lego Batman Movie), but his was pretty good. He cursed more than I think we’re used to seeing the Clown, but I like it. And I like that it had a hint of Mark Hamill in his delivery.
Speaking of Clayface; I didn’t like him. The actor bit got played out kind of quickly, and it kind of robbed the few good Clayface moments of their impact. His voice was good, but the bit got old. What I really like that this series did is show that Harley wasn’t the only one trying to move on; Joker was also left with a void. To the point where he had a BOUNTY on Harley’s head. He wanted to bring her because he wanted to “erase” her. He did have a soft spot for Harley, if only a small one. He realized that he could not just kill Harley; it would just “leave a void.” We she left him; he didn’t have an outlet for anything that didn’t have to do with Batman. So for him to erase that void; he had to erase Harley. Thus: He tried pushing Harley into a vat of acid. In his twisted mind; this would erase everything that turned Harleen Quinnzel into Harley Quinn. Don’t know how this would work; I just went with it.
Everything I talked about was in the episode I just watched; the season finale. It was such a great finale, especially the penultimate episode. “F In The chat for Ivy” I thought when I saw Joker harpoon the plant lady. I didn’t see that coming at all. Another thing I didn’t see coming: Who Harley would get to join her crew. Yeah; she needed people to help her pull off a bunch of heists. And she got(in her own words) “The f*cking worst!”
Among these characters is Dr Psycho, who was pretty funny. His disrespect for women was……..it’s like it was “bad,” but it was funny. Ever since he used the dreaded “C word” in his fight with Wonder Woman; he’s just been sh@t on at every turn. He was even kicked out of the f*cking Legion of Doom! Yeah; the Legion is more like an recognized organization than an amalgamation of villains. It was so funny when Lex Luthor came out and made a public apology on behalf of the legion, and even announced that Psycho was kicked out. It actually popped into my mind during the Queen of Fable’s speech to Harley about being a villain. Harley was firm in establishing a line she won’t cross, Queen of Fables had this to say: “Heroes have ‘a line!!’ TEEN TITANS have a line!! WE(the villains) don’t give a f*ck!!” Well apparently you SHOULD! Or is this one of those “It’s one thing being a villain; it’s another being a such-and-such” things?
King Shark was also fine. He usually ended up as the shows literal punching bag. He’d usually get beat up a lot on the show, and was never really did anything aside from hacking and a few shark jokes. Batman was also a recurring character in the series, played by the same voice actor from Batman: The Brave And The Bold; Diedrich Bader. I’m sorry, Kevin Conroy, but……his voice is just really suited to that kind of show. And even though the animated series was better; I have to say that I like Brave and the Bold more. It was so wacky and fun and full of life.
I like this version of Gotham a lot more than some others. Because she got a nuke and held the city hostage; Harley got her own highway. It didn’t come into play until episode 11, though. Commissioner Gordon was different from every other version we had seen. His marriage is failing, and the fact that Gotham is in a constant state of sh!t, he looks like he hadn’t slept in weeks. It made for some really good comedy, especially when Clayface’s hand came to life and he had someone to actually talk to. Not so good for Clayface, though; this one can’t regenerate, nor can he resist his urge to stick to his roots as an actor. Gordon also used the Bat signal a few times just because he wanted to talk to Batman about his feelings. No; I’m serious.
I really liked Ivy’s developing relationship with Kite man. No, I’m serious; KITE MAN! KITE MAN, of all people, lands Poison Ivy! Even Ivy had her reservations about the relationship at first, but she eventually lets it go public. Oh man. It culminated in Kite Man asking Ivy to marry her. He never really got an answer to the question, even after Ivy came back to life. In fact, after Ivy saved Harley from the acid; the entirety of Gotham went up in flames. That was because Joker was defeated, and he wanted to make his “final joke” a BIG one. So going into season 2; Gotham is in pieces(literally and metaphorically), Kite Man and Ivy have some serious talking to do, Joker is recovering and coming for Harley, and Batman is missing. Oh, and Joker and Scarecrow know Batman’s secret identity. Well, only Joker; he killed Scarecrow for “ruining the best part of their relationship.”
There will also not be a Legion of Doom because of Joker; he destroyed it as soon as he took over Gotham. But that leaves a power vacuum, right? Like in My Hero Academia when All Might and All For One fought. All Might’s retirement left the people without a symbol, and All For One’s capture left the underworld without someone cracking the whip. The Justice League was captured by the Queen of Fables, who is now dead. Which is found incredibly funny. Harley knocked her head off with her bat! Either Harley is CRAZY strong, or her head was…..was somehow not attached well? I just found that part weird.
But now the Justice League and Legion of Doom are gone. Vacuums on both sides. What will happen now? We’ll be able to find out soon, because season 2 is confirmed for April 3rd of THIS YEAR! I really enjoyed this show; a 7.5/10 in my opinion. But that’s just me. Let me know your own thoughts on the series, and I’ll see you next time!