And now we’ve finally reached the end. The end of what, exactly? That’s not entirely clear. This series is constructed as a continuation of the elements from the show, and as such focuses on the themes present there, along with some new ingredients thrown in for good measure. At least, that was the idea. Unfortunately, Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats fails on both accounts. Ultimately it’s unclear what the point of anything in this interlude really was.
The main focus of the comic was exploring Harley and Ivy’s relationship now that one is the head of a villain organization and the other is working with the bat family. All of that comes to a head in this issue when Harley and Ivy get into a big fight over the matter. Specifically, Ivy gets upset with Harley for not telling her what she was doing. However, the show itself ended with this conversation on the subject after spending an entire season on how Harley sees herself as less of a villain:
I: So, ok. That’s what you’ve decided.
H: It is. I was alone for so long, carrying around all this trauma. Then I met you and I fell in love, which helped me get past it and I’m finally in a place where I can think about what I want. It’s exciting… and scary.
I: I’m proud of you.
That scene is then immediately followed by a cut to her triumphantly joining the bat family that issue #1 opens with. The entire drama of the comic is built upon them not communicating over this conflict, when it seems like the show already completely addressed the issue. This was a problem with the Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill Tour series as well. Instead of progressing their characters so that the comic can build off of what the show has done, it just retreads already settled arcs by undoing character development from the preceding season.
Part of this can be justified by the comic’s awkward position of taking place between the past season and an unknown future season which it’s not allowed to affect, but that excuse can only go so far. It’s true that you’re limited in what kinds of stories you can tell, but that doesn’t mean that you need to simply repeat old ones, but worse. This issue even explicitly tells you that you need to have seen season 3 before reading, but if you have, then this will feel like walking the characters in circles so as to reset the status quo.
Theoretically where a spin-off comic can really shine is in the new stories and characters that it introduces. Unfortunately, the comic doesn’t really care about any of that so we have no reason to either. The mirror to Harley’s supposed lying about being with the Bat Family is that Ivy has been lying about her ex being in town. That entire plotline ended up amounting to nothing.
Despite a lot of build-up in the early issues, the only thing Bella Garten ever did was be present so Ivy could stress about it, and now she’s decided to leave. Apparently she showed up in Gotham because she thought that Ivy might be upset that Harley stopped her from destroying Gotham, but now I guess that’s over. The story tries to equate the two sides as a “we both need to grow” moment, but no one learned anything and it all felt like a waste of time.
Speaking of dropped plotlines, you can use that to describe pretty much everything else going on in this story. The Black Mask plotline that the Bat Family has been working on for a while now was supposed to climax into this big fight and bring them into conflict with Ivy’s Legion. Now that it’s finally here, none of the characters seem to care about it at all. They will stop what they’re doing so that they can all gossip about Harley and Ivy’s relationship, completely destroying any amount of investment we were supposed to have in anything else. I’ve talked before about how the characters in this comic treat “Harlivy” like a fictional pairing they’re watching on TV instead of (to them) real people, but now it’s actively harming the rest of the comic.
The only time any sort of urgency is built around the fight itself is when Livewire seemingly kills Harley for sleeping at her girlfriend Nightfall’s apartment without asking permission first. This dramatic shock lasts exactly one panel before it’s revealed that Nightfall saved her. It’s a nonsensical moment with ridiculous reasoning that feels completely artificial. I suppose we needed a manufactured reason for the members of Ivy’s Legion to quickly leave at the last minute so that it can feel like absolutely nothing that’s happened has mattered.
The Black Mask plotline isn’t the only story that completely forgotten about now that we’ve reached the end. Supposedly the entire reason that Harley joined the bat family was to find Peach’s sister Miia (even though that contradicts both the show and even the continuity of earlier issues), but once Black Mask said he sold her to someone in Detroit, everyone seems a little sad but just moves on. Sorry Miia, but bus fare is expensive and going all the way back to Detroit seems hard so that’s the end of that.
Finally, Cassandra Cain is taken away to Themyscira without any build-up or narrative reason why she was ever made part of the story. It’s like she was just included to get people excited about the fact that she would be in it, but there were no other plans for beyond that. It’s just one of a long line of anti-climaxes
The art is… fine, I guess. Last issue I mentioned that Jon Mikel’s style has somewhat improved from before so that there aren’t any glaring visual flaws in the story, and the same is true here. The overall style is still not very impressive, and the simplistic way which he draws the characters without any interesting stylization doesn’t do anything to improve the overall story. It gets the job done, but that’s not enough to elevate an principally disappointing story.
- You want to know how everything ends, but don’t care if there’s any actual conclusion
- Harley and Ivy’s relationship drama is enough to carry an entire miniseries
- It’s ok if it feels like nothing has been accomplished
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats #6 is a disappointing ending that fails to deliver on any of the promises which it’s built up over the course of the run. Every plotline outside of Harley and Ivy’s relationship drama is completely forgotten about, and the drama itself doesn’t feel satisfying either. At its best it’s a retread of stories better executed by the show, and at its worst it’s a disposable tie-in that doesn’t even give the effort to care about what it’s telling.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.