Writer: Tee Franklin
Art: Shae Beagle, Roberto Poggi, and Lee Loughridge
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 18th, 2022
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #1 is as gloriously twisted as the show it’s based on. This book is NOT for kids. If it were a film, it would be R-rated. So if you’re easily offended, skip it, but if not, you’re in for one hell of a great book! If you haven’t seen Harley’s show (or read the previous mini-series The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour), no problem, all the backstory’s provided here to get you rolling, as Harley teams up with Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin (an especially bratty Damian Wayne) to help fight crime and a rampaging Bane, all while trying to keep it secret from her main squeeze Poison Ivy. Meanwhile, Poison Ivy’s forming her own Legion of Doom. Talk about conflicting interests!
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Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much when I opened Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #1. Sure, I love the animated show, but if I had a nickel for every time a great animated show spawned an awful comic, I could buy out Amazon. But I instantly fell in love with the book on page one, where Harley leaps into action with Nightwing, Batgirl and Damian Wayne. But not having all the fancy gizmos that those three have, she has to run down stairs and furiously sprint to keep up with them, spouting strings of curses the whole time that would make the most hardened stand-up comic blush.
Writer Tee Franklin beautifully and elegantly has Harley give a summary of the events leading up to this point amidst the cursing, so that anyone who hasn’t seen the Harley Quinn animated series or read The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour mini-series is all caught up with this version of Harley and her Earth within the first few pages of the book.
There are some genuinely laugh out loud moments through the issue, and some touching moments too. We get a lot of time with Harley and Poison Ivy together, and their scenes feel wonderfully down-to-Earth and real. When the two are together talking, you forget about all the fantasy elements of this world (Poison Ivy’s control of plants, the existence of super-heroes, a huge intelligent talking plant in the next room, etc.) and it just feels like real conversation between two human beings in a loving relationship. In the Batman books, when Batman and Catwoman have their many on-again/off-again flings, it never felt this real, and I appreciate that.
But it’s not all lovey-dovey conversations, there’s a lot of action in the book too, as Harley and the Bat-family make a great team, whether they’re fighting street thugs or Bane. It’s hilarious watching Harley’s rough street-fighting style contrasted with the Bat-family’s more sophisticated martial arts combat method.
Think Damian Wayne is kind of a punk? Well on this Earth, he’s 100 times worse. It’s both surreal and comical watching him throw volcano-like tantrums at everything and everyone, as Batgirl calms him down and Nightwing almost seems proud of his rage.
Poison Ivy gets a lot of time in the book too, as she works on forming her own Legion of Doom. It’s a great subplot in the book and has a wonderful twist at the end.
Shae Beagle’s art on Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #1 is reminiscent of Skottie Young’s work, but I enjoyed Shae’s work more here. Where Skottie Young’s work is over-the-top cartoony, Shae’s art is a perfect hybrid of a cartoony style combined with more realistic forms, creating a unique look for the book that’s different from anything I’ve seen in any other book. Shae’s characters are super expressive and dynamic. Harley’s reactions, of course, are always the most hilarious (especially when she confronts Bane).
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #1 is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. It’s hilarious, touching in parts, with a lot of great scenes. Harley’s more anarchic than ever and there are some great twists in the book too. Highly recommended.