The Year of Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey

Amanda Conner tells us all about the new Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey series coming from DC.

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey by Amanda Conner (DC Comics)

It is Harley Quinn’s mad, mad, mad, mad world, and now the Birds of Prey are just living in it. Such is the case with Harley Quinn And The Birds of Prey, the four-issue DC miniseries launching in Feb. 2020 from the creative team of writer/artist Amanda Conner and writer Jimmy Palmiotti.

Announced last week at New York Comic Con, the upcoming title is a sequel to Conner/Palmiotti’s four-year bestselling run on the standalone Harley Quinn book, and coincides with the release of the live-action film Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). However, the book is not tied to the movie’s plot. Instead, it is a 32-page DC Black Label book for ages 17 and older, a “mature readers” approach that’s similar to the Harley Quinn animated series on the DC Universe, which debuts next month.

Conner and Palmiotti’s work has made the largest impact on Harley since she was first introduced in 1993’s Batman: The Animated Series (co-created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm). Over the years, she has evolved into an antihero who escaped the abusive relationship and emerged from the character shadow of the Joker.  Set in both Gotham City and Harley’s adopted home of Coney Island, the miniseries sees Harley moving on with her life when she learns her psychotic ex has placed a $10 million bounty on her head — causing Gotham’s nastiest rogues to hunt her down. Enlisting the help of Black Canary, Cassandra Cain (aka Batgirl), Renee Montoya, and the Huntress, Harley and these Birds of Prey will flock together to find out why the Clown Prince of Crime is out to get Ms. Quinn.

“She’s really gotten on the Joker’s nerves,” Palmiotti told Den of Geek. “He’s not in a place to take her down, and he does a lot of manipulating to get everyone in Arkham pretty much after her.” Although he adds the miniseries, which is still being written, will step “outside the outline.”

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Following the NYCC announcement of the new book, Amanda Conner joined Den of Geek for a chat to discuss the joy of returning to the mad world of Harley Quinn.

Den of Geek: How has Harley evolved since you last wrote her?

Amanda Conner: What I’m glad about is that everybody has grasped the theme of Harley going out on her own, being a free girl, not being beholden to the Joker and other people of Gotham or Batman. They’re still in her universe, but she’s not being bossed around by them or being emotionally whipped by them. And this book is just going to be her discovering a new set of people to torment and torture and vex.

How did these characters that are already established, and independent in their own right, work with Harley? Is Harley the leader of the Birds of Prey now?

She’s not so much a leader, but a black hole that pulls people into her gravitational well. People get sucked into her world, whether they like it or not. It is not so much a leader thing; she just sort of sucks you in, and you can’t really help it. That’s how she’s going to be involved with the Birds of Prey.

What character is most interesting for Harley to bounce off of? When I was looking at this lineup, I couldn’t decide who I was most excited to see — probably Montoya, because of law and order versus chaos.

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At first, I was thinking it was going to be Montoya, but now I’m starting to think that Cassandra is going to be a little bit more of an interesting foil for Harley. Usually Harley is the one that drives everybody nuts, but Cass is going to drive Harley a little bit nuts, so that’ll be a nice shift. It is going to be interesting to see how the two of them work together — or don’t work together.

read more: What Tom King’s Final Batman Issues Would Have Been About

Your artwork impacted the look of Harley so much, and introduced now-iconic looks. So have you made additional tweaks to the character designs?

We’re going to do more of Harley changing up her costume. That’s one of the things that we introduced we didn’t realize was going to be so successful: Harley changing it up all the time. You could change her costume, and you can always reckon, “Oh, that’s Harley and she’s wearing this outfit.” She’s just instantly recognizable so she can get away with that. And, I always say this at panels, “What girl do you know that has one outfit in their closet?”

Can you say anything about those updates?

You know what, I can’t because I haven’t started drawing it yet! But Jimmy and I were just talking about it in a very, very long taxi ride (it was like the forever-to-go-one-mile taxi ride to the con).

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Speaking of Jimmy, even though it hasn’t been that long since you stepped away from Harley in 2018, has it been easy to slip back into that world?

Yeah, it is. Because she’s such a fun character. I thought it was going to be hard for me to change gears, but it’s like a gear that I could just slip right into very easily. There’s two DC characters that they’re like comfortable slippers to me, and Harley is one of them.

How prominent of a role will Harley’s girlfriend Ivy be in the book?

We’re not sure yet, but yeah, we’re going to put her in.

When we have this new Harley limited series coming out, and we have the animated series, and then the live-action movie coming up — and then we’ll have another Suicide Squad movie down the road. How do you think this much Harley is going to impact pop culture as a whole?

It feels like it’s going to be the year of Harley. I can’t predict, but it certainly feels like it’s going to be the year of Harley. People aren’t going to not love that cartoon, that cartoon’s great. It’s really good. I think people are going to love the Birds of Prey movie.

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But why does she translate so well across media?

She’s a great character. You have movies that have superhero characters in them, and some of them are so iconic that they can’t show their imperfections, or you can’t take them out of their very strict personalities. But, with Harley, you can do that. You can pretty much do anything with her. I think it’s going to free up superhero movies and all sorts of media in a way that it hasn’t been done before, and I think it’s going to be really good to see female characters. Usually we see them, they’re sort of bunched in with a group, the superhero group. But with Harley Quinn now, she’s still in a group, but it’s with a bunch of female superheroes. Or semi-heroes.