This month marks the 25th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, instantly making everyone who grew up with the beloved series feel older. This also means that Harley Quinn is also only 25 years old, but don’t tell her that. The character, whose most recent incarnation under the stewardship of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti was the basis for the Suicide Squad movie version, still acts like a kid. She’s become one of DC Comics’ most popular characters, so it comes as no surprise that this week sees the release of a 40-page special devoted to her.
The Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special pays tribute to all eras of Harley, beginning with a new story from Palmiotti and Conner, of course. It’s the first time Conner has drawn the interior of a Harley story in awhile, which makes “Diva Las Vegas” even more special. It’s set during Harley’s Las Vegas trip with Catwoman and Poison Ivy, with Harley telling Red Tool all about that time she tried to host a ridiculous party at their hotel. As one would expect, the part was totally wild, complete with rhinos, armadillos, bazookas and Elvis Presley impersonators.
Paul Dini returns to provide the best story here, called “Birthday Blues.” It’s a quick one, with Chad Hardin drawing Harley again after his return to the character for Harley Quinn #25. Here, Harley thinks everyone is forgetting about her birthday, since Mistah J. is planning a big heist. She even thinks she has to buy her own birthday cake! The story feels like a lost Batman: The Animated Series plot.
“Somewhere in the Green” is a surprising story from writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist David Lafuente. Harley and Ivy think they’re just having a great time in Gotham City, while a hurricane closes in on the city. Suddenly, Swamp Thing comes out of nowhere to enlist Ivy’s help to save Gotham from the storm. But “Baby Clown” insists on playing a role, so she gets her own experience in The Green. I love the art on this story. It’s fresh and different, fitting the strange nature of the story. Who would expect to see Swamp Thing in a Harley Quinn story?
Rounding out the special is “Bird Psychology” by writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones. Zdarsky has fun with the relationship between Harley and Robin, which played a role in BTAS. It’s a duel between the two sidekicks who are always questioning their position in the relationship with their idols.
Between each story are pin-ups from Babs Tarr, Bengal, Kanome Shirahama, Greg Tocchini, Annie Wu and Dustin Nguyen.
The four stories are all tied by a love of different versions of Harley, but you can tell the heart of the character is still the same. It’s hard to believe that Harley is now 25 years old, going from random Joker goon to the most popular DC character outside Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The stories in the 25th Anniversary Special shows why. She has survived different versions, each more popular than the last, and each of these are represented. If you prefer your Harley fully-clothed in red-and-black clown gear, Dini has a story for you. If you love the current Conner/Palmiotti Harley, there’s a story chock-full of the usual inside jokes. Hopefully Harley survives another 25 years so we can get more new versions.
Is it good?
The 25th Anniversary Special is a hilarious, fun look at Harley’s different incarnations with great writing and wonderful art.