Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour review

When the second season of Harley Quinn: The Animated Series finished, Harley and Ivy were left driving off into the sunset, surrounded by flames and being chased by cops. It was about as perfect a summation of their relationship you could get, and acted as payoff to a two season long “will they, won’t they” dynamic. Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour picks up where the show left off, with the two on their “honeymoon” and on the lam. Since this series takes place between seasons 2 and 3 of the show, it’s forced to spin its wheels somewhat so that nothing important happens that show watchers might miss, but it spends that time focusing on the characters viewers have come to love, and giving a preview of ones to come.

The humor in the comic has the same raunchy, manic energy as the show. Every issue begins with a “This comic is for mature readers only” and they mean it. It’s filled with plenty of swearing, sex jokes, and irreverent violence. Harley especially doesn’t miss a beat in her adaptation from the show to the comic. I think she actually benefits from the transition due to what can be done with drawings that aren’t limited by an animation budget. Harley has always had a bit of Looney Tunes in her character’s DNA (before Paul Dini and Bruce Timm would go on to make Batman: The Animated Series where she first premiered, they worked together on Tiny Toon Adventures) but Max Sarin’s lively and expressive art really puts that front and center.

And lettering vet Taylor Esposito makes the writing flow with great readability, so not even dialogue-heavy pages feel crowded.

Some of the best jokes come from Harley and Ivy’s interactions with the various character cameos that show up throughout the series. The best is probably Catwoman in issue #2. She just revels in hearing about the disaster gossip that is Harley and Ivy’s chaotic life. Presumably the audience enjoys it too (since that’s why they’re here) so it’s really entertaining to have her as a proxy watching everything blow up in their faces. Her calm and collected demeanor is a nice foil to theirs, though that actually brings up one of my problems with the series, which is Ivy.

In the show, Pamela was calm, collected the foil to Harley. When Harley would immediately react emotionally to anything and everything that happened, Pamela kept everything under control and tried to be the voice of reason. Even her humor was a dry sarcasm rather than the show’s usual boisterous tone. A big part of her character was that she felt uncomfortable opening up about her feelings and was stoic to a fault. Here, however, much of the drama is driven by her emotional reactions to not being able to deal with their relationship. Her struggling with being in a relationship makes sense, in fact it was a major part of season 2. However, for her to outwardly express her emotions to such an extent feels out of place. Some of that may be due to the way she’s drawn which, while expressive and well done, does not quite fit the character.

Their relationship is a major focus of the comic as a whole. For the most part, it’s presented as extremely sweet. There are tons of scenes where the two look lovingly into each other’s eyes with hearts flying everywhere. There’s also plenty of raunchier scenes of the two jumping on top of each other. If what you want out of this comic is more of the two being a couple, then it’s got what you crave. In fact the comic has a lot of queer representation and prominent characters from traditionally marginalized groups like the disabled. Again, all good things and something that you don’t always see enough of in comics (though that is slowly changing for the better).

Even the sexy scenes are inclusive and diverse

The relationship is cast in such an aggressively positive light that almost everyone they interact with openly says how much they’re rooting for the two. Even Barbara Gordon, who as a crime fighter knows that they’re wanted criminals, talks about how much she hopes they succeed. The comic does seem to forget at times that while they’re the protagonists, they are still villains (a tightrope walk that the show tends to manage much better.)

However, for something that is such a focus of the story, their relationship doesn’t often move beyond a superficial presence. Harley and Ivy jump back and forth between melting in each other’s arms and struggling with how to be in a relationship. That second part is what drives much of the drama, but it doesn’t feel meaningfully different than what we’ve already seen throughout season 2 of the show. It’s jarring to see them spend so long realizing that they need to trust each other and be their true selves, and then seemingly have to learn that same lesson again over the course of the comic. It feels like they’re running in place and just repeating what they’ve already done. There’s even a sequence inside Ivy’s head where she confronts her fears that is almost identical to what happened in the show with Harley.

Admittedly Ivy’s mental crisis has some of the best art in the series

Some of this is undeniably due to the awkward place the comic holds as a spinoff that takes place between a season that just ended and one that had not yet premiered. They’re unable to meaningfully progress because the third season needs to pick up where the second left off in a way that no one feels like they missed anything important, so there can’t be anything important. By necessity, the comic has to be inconsequential.

The vacuousness of the relationship development wouldn’t be so much of an issue if there was more of a plot. The series is fairly directionless, in part due to the spinoff constraints mentioned above. Harley and Ivy drive around without much of a purpose, and eventually end in the exact same status quo that they started in. Initially they’re running from Commissioner Gordon, who is far more unhinged than he’s ever been portrayed before so that he’s more of a clear antagonist, then he kind of just gives up. Later a new toxic sludge monster, Mephitic, starts terrorizing Detroit and Ivy decides that she needs to get involved to atone for the people she’s hurt (which was never a problem before.) The little mini adventures aren’t bad, but they more often than not just feel like narrative excuses to push the two from one set piece to the next until suddenly they decide they need a big climax in the final issue.

Most every issue involves a cameo from a different character, and they can be a mixed bag. I already talked about how much I liked the Catwoman issue, but in other instances it can feel fairly pointless. Hush shows up at one point but aside from giving the two an opportunity to beat up a villain being obnoxiously misogynistic, has no real connection to anything else going on. It was fun seeing Nightwing show up for his dynamic with the other members of the bat family, but most of the time he was a vehicle for butt jokes. Most of the time the characters showing up are fun, but they rarely have enough page space to have a real presence beyond teasing their inclusion in the upcoming season 3.

Recommended If…

  • You’re a fan of the show
  • You want to see more of Harley and Ivy’s relationship
  • You’re looking for a very light, sugary read

Overall

Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour is a fun read for fans of the show, so long as you don’t expect anything new. If what you are looking for is just more of the characters that you love from the animated series getting into misadventures, then this has got it. There’s also plenty of moments of Harley and Ivy being a loving couple as an almost celebration of them finally being official. That being said, the series rehashes old drama that the show already addressed, which can be frustrating.

Score: 6.5/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.