Though the last outing of Harley Quinn might have been slightly lackluster, it turns out splitting up the crew of crims wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The 10th episode of animated series delves into the history of the (anti)heroine and looks at the impact that Harley and (her absence) has on those around her.
One of the funnest things about Harley Quinn is how much creative freedom the team behind it have been given, and they take full advantage of that here offering a completely new backstory that’s as hilarious as it is completely and utterly ridiculous.
Harley’s origin has long been one steeped in the baggage of being the Joker’s girlfriend. Whether it’s their toxic relationship or him driving her mad enough to fall in love with him we’ve all seen that part of her history play out a thousand times over her near two decade history. What’s been refreshing as a fan of the character and of DC Comics in general has been getting to see that story expanded or turned upside down.
A great example of this was Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh’s Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass which imagined the titular heroine as a teen runaway who finds a home with a group of drag queens. Nothing so wholesome happens in this episode of course, however we do once again get a completely new version of Harley’s past.
Where Harley Quinn has often excelled in its debut season has been taking the more mundane side of life and splattering it with crude humor and lashings of the old ultraviolence. Here we get a glimpse into Harley’s childhood and her short lived career as a successful gymnast.
So how did things get so bad for ol’ Harleen? That would be down to her deadbeat dad whose dealings with the mob left her having to take a dive, tank her career, and eventually turn to a life of crime. Her mother isn’t much better either, obsessed with Harley’s marital status and constantly taking back her terrible husband who can’t find a bar low enough for him to not slip under.
Unsurprisingly for a show that has such an impressive voice cast, her parents are perfectly cast. Harley’s mother is brought to life by the instantly recognizable tones of Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Susie Essman and her father voiced by iconic behind the mic talent and Harley Quinn’s own vocal director, Charlie Adler. The pair are delightfully dastardly as Harley’s horrible family and they offer up a whole bunch of reasons that the hot-pant-wearing heroine turned out just as f***ed up as she did!
Whilst Harley is reconnecting with her roots, Ivy has been trapped by an evil environmentally deranged villain who’s intent on killing her and guess who her only hope is? What’s most impressive in this episode is that what could have been an unnecessary filler with an inevitable reunion actually adds a whole lot of depth and history to Harley.
And it does all of that while also being a solidly funny and especially dark episode which will please fans who enjoy a good mob-centric family drama. Despite the fact that Harley essentially ends this chapter in the same place that she was a couple episodes ago, she’s learned a valuable lesson: that her friends are a far better family than her blood relatives ever were and that actually means something.
With only three episodes left in the first season it’ll be exciting to see where this newly inspired and whole Harley will go. Breaking from the Legion of Doom and committing to her crew will likely have big ramifications, and there’s always the matter of the Joker who tried to kill our heroine last time her saw her. It’ll be nice to see Harley fully emancipate herself and take her place as one of Gotham’s biggest bads. Or… maybe we could potentially see her go good?
In the comics Harley has been balancing on the edge of being a hero for a while now so it wouldn’t be wholly surprising if she did a reverse heel-turn and helped Batman take down her evil ex? We’re not betting folks but if we were then we wouldn’t be too wary of putting a few bat bucks on a potential heroic team up in order to save Gotham… we’ll have to tune in next week to find out though.
You can watch Harley Quinn on DC Universe now.