An epic struggle for the fates of Harley and Ivy as they are pulled further from one another and they desperately cling to their love to hold them together. By all appearances that seems to be what this issue’s cover and tagline promise. However, that’s not really the case. In fact, their relationship plays less of a role in this story than pretty much any other issue of the series so far. This is an issue where some things just sort of happen. Some of it is setting up for future developments, but in addition to being a little late in a 6-issue miniseries for that, the overall narrative structure lacks any sort of clear direction.
The rift between Ivy’s Legion of Doom and Harley’s allegiance to the Bat Family was the big hook at the end of season 3. There are obligatory references to that conflict, but you can tell that the comic doesn’t really know what to do with it. I’ve talked about this in previous reviews, but being a spinoff series that takes place between seasons puts the comic in an awkward position of needing to acknowledge the “main” plot but not being able to affect it in any way. For instance, a number of pages are devoted to Ivy interviewing new members of the Ladies and Non-Binaries of Doom, but it goes nowhere.
Instead, most of Ivy’s focus is devoted to exploring her backstory with Bella Garten. Overall I liked this exploration of her past. It adds a layer of tragedy to Ivy’s character and offers some explanation as to why she’s so standoffish. It ironically fits a bit more with Ivy’s characterization from Neil Gaiman’s excellent Pavane origin story that the more comedic tone we usually see in the show and this series.
This seems to be what Ivy’s main conflict will be going forward in the comic. It offers a self-contained story for Ivy to deal with without stepping on the toes of anything the show is doing. That being said, it feels overly convenient that Ivy starts reminiscing about her past just as Garten starts looking for her. I also fear that by bringing in Ivy’s ex, the story will circle back to “will they, won’t they” drama with Harley. I hope I’m wrong, because that’s a well that’s been visited one too many times.
While all this is going on with Ivy, Harley is still working the Black Mask case with the Bat kids. It doesn’t do much to drive that plot forward, but we do get a fun bit of mayor Joker when Black Mask attempts to ransom him. Joker is definitely the highlight of this issue. His characterization fits in perfectly with the show’s, and his irreverent yet devoted attitude towards his duties as mayor consistently create a hilarious combination. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the rest of the characters in this storyline.
The interactions between Harley and the rest of the Bat family are very unnatural. They’re heavy on exposition and light on any sort of chemistry. Everyone behaves in a way that drives the plot where it needs to go, but the hand of the author is very visible. Harley’s constant fourth-wall asides to the audience definitely don’t help. It’s disappointing that this aspects of the comic feels like it’s simply spinning its wheels, because it was the big hook at the end of the last season and I think a lot of people were looking forward to what that would entail.
The art this issue is noticeably different from previous issues, and it’s to the comic’s detriment. In the past the art has been very cartoonish and bubbly. Sometimes it would match the show’s style devotedly, but even when it didn’t it still matched the tone. The new art style by Jon Mikel is still very simplistic, but lacks any of the previous art’s stylization. The proportions are inconsistent, and the character’s faces often almost feel incomplete. The storyboarding of the action scenes also suffer, especially during a big fight scene in Joker’s office where I genuinely had difficulty following what was supposed to be happening and in what order. It’s definitely not the worst art I’ve seen, but it definitely drags the rest of the book down.
- Ivy’s backstory is something that you have wanted to see in this universe
- You like mayor Joker
- You don’t mind some time to just hang out with the characters you like from the show
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #3 is unfortunately a step down from previous issues in the series, both in writing and art. The plot feels directionless and the art style has lost the stylistic liveliness that used to tie the comic to its TV counterpart. There are entertaining segments of the story, but it’s all so disconnected that it’s difficult to form a coherent vision of the whole. It’s not terrible, but it’s not especially good either; it just feels like it’s there.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.