Writer: Tee Franklin
Art: Shae Beagle, Jon Mikel and Roberto Poggi
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: January 17th, 2023
Lady Marabunta (who controls a huge steampunk-style ant bot) does some dirty work for Black Mask in Harley Quinn the Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #4, and Harley Quinn and Batgirl are on the case! As Harley continues to secretly work with the Bat team to become a full-blown anti-hero, her main squeeze Poison Ivy is hanging out with an old flame. Will Ivy leave Harley for her ex? Will Harley go overboard interrogating Lady Marabunta? Also, King Shark and Clayface do their own investigation… of Harley! And Frank the giant talking Venus Flytrap gets a new suit???
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Like Harley’s animated series on HBO MAX, Harley Quinn The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! has been a blast. There have been so many moments in each issue that have me cracking up laughing and I love that this is set on a totally different Earth from Earth-Prime, so anything goes here. Harley’s surprisingly less manic in this book than the Earth-Prime Harley, but like “our” Harley, she always defiantly lives life by her own rules. We don’t get to see much of Poison Ivy this issue, but she’s as much the star of the book as Harley. Their relationship is beautiful and it’s my favorite aspect of the comic. Seeing the two together is magical.
I also love the scenes between Ivy and Frank the Plant, her right hand “man” who’s a sarcastic insulting Venus Flytrap. If a Venus Flytrap was fused with Don Rickles, it would be Frank. Frank’s a hilarious character and the only other character (besides Harley) that Ivy lets give her lip. The bulk of this issue has Harley and Batgirl going after Lady Marabunta, who performs a kidnapping for Black Mask, and the two have a showdown with her and her massive ant-style weapon. Harley and Batgirl work together surprisingly well, both of them eager to prove themselves to the other members of the Bat-Family, especially Nightwing.
Nightwing’s written hilariously old-fashioned in the way he talks, sounding much like Adam West’s Batman from the old 1960’s show. At a couple points during the issue, he uses the term “evil doers”. Who does that? But as he stumbles around on a case with Robin (Damian Wayne), Damian’s foul-mouthed rage at the world coupled with Nightwing’s stiffness made me chuckle a bit. All the characters are written broadly, which I don’t mind, since this is all based on an animated show. It’s like reading a Looney Tunes comic but the characters (especially Harley and Damian) sling four-letter words and obscenities like machine-gun fire.
There’s not one dull character in the book. Even King Shark and Clayface are fun, and I love how all the characters come together by the end of the issue. The book’s not all fun and games, though. Black Mask and his False Face Society loom over the mini-series and Black Mask is a suitably menacing villain. Also, Harley and Ivy are both keeping secrets from each other, and it’s causing tension in their relationship. It’ll be interesting seeing what happens as the mini-series progresses.
Shae Beagle and Jon Mikel share art duties on Harley Quinn the Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #4 and though I like both their styles, I prefer Beagle’s art more because it has a more animated cartoony feel, as if the animated show were magically converted to comic book pages. Mikel’s art shines in the action scenes, where Harley and Batgirl confront Lady Marabunta. Both artists have very expressive characters and their art complements the story perfectly.
Harley Quinn the Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #4 is another great issue of the mini-series, setting up the menace of Black Mask and his False Face Society, and giving us some great moments with Harley and Batgirl in action and Ivy and Frank the Plant at odds. It’s an issue filled with laughs, action and some touching moments too, and it’s highly recommended.