Harley Quinn has had legions of loyal fans for ages. For a long time, I mainly knew her as the Joker’s girlfriend on Batman: The Animated Series. I knew DC had brought her into their comics’ continuity. I knew she and the Joker had broken up (maybe? sort of?). I knew she’d shifted from villain to antihero to star in her own comic. I’d heard her referred to as “DC’s Deadpool.” But what about her brought such adoration among readers? In a 2016 interview with Vulture, DC Comics’ Publisher and CCO Jim Lee said, “I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.” That’s HUGE. Lee is equating Harley to DC’s Trinity, their Big Three, the foundation upon which DC is built. After reading the near 100 comics comprising Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn (yes, I got excited and bought them all (no, I have no regrets)) I get it.
What I Learned Watching 26 Episodes of Harley Quinn in 8 Days
On a whim, I decided to try watching Harley Quinn on HBO Max. My only real experience with Harley Quinn up to this point had been Batman: The Animated Series, obviously, and DC’s recent Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn. As I watched, I thought it’d be fun to write about the experience as I did last year, when I tried to binge-watch ninety-six episodes of Supergirl in the nineteen days I had left before the new season premiered. Instead of doing any sort of analysis or deconstruction or anything like that, I just wrote my stream-of-consciousness thoughts as I watched. Now I’ve discovered the DC Universe’s Harley Quinn show! And, while I watched at a more leisurely pace (relatively speaking), I decided to write the same sort of piece. Let’s see where this goes…
Batwoman: Free of Guilt, Driven by Faith
Kate Kane, the Batwoman, is a remarkable character. Even after a lifetime of being bored by Batman, I found her so compelling James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics – with Batwoman leading Batman’s team in Gotham – became a permanent part of my pull list. Her solo Rebirth Batwoman title, penned by Marguerite Bennette and Tynion IV, soon followed. Last Christmas I was excited to find trade collections of her earlier New 52 adventures had made their way under the tree. What draws me to Batwoman is, while she wears the bat symbol, she transcends the most serious faults we see in the Batman. In so doing, she’s not just a character I connect with and love reading about. She’s also one who instructs and inspires transformation in her readers, as only the most important characters do. Continue reading
What I Learned Watching 96 Episodes of Supergirl (with Crossovers) in 16 Days
I have a habit of committing (should we say overcommitting?) to ridiculous viewing marathons. I don’t really know why. But I tend to do it more so with movies than shows. However, when I heard the Arrowverse was going to be gaining a new show this fall in the form of Batwoman – a character whom I adore – I knew I’d be tuning in. When I realized Batwoman would be airing Sunday nights before Supergirl – a show I’ve always been interested in but never committed to watching (because the Arrowverse is huge and intimidating) – I figured I should check it out. Why not, right? The first four seasons were on Netflix. Maybe, maybe I should try and binge-watch (even though I don’t particularly care for binge-watching) all four seasons before the new one premiered. Then I could watch Batwoman live without fear of spoilers for Supergirl AND enjoy Supergirl at the same time! Was this the best idea I’ve ever had??
What follows is the stream-of-consciousness list of lessons I learned while trying to watch all ninety-six episodes of Supergirl (with crossovers) over the course of sixteen wild days. Continue reading
Who Is Batwoman? My Entry Point Into the Arrowverse!
In October of 2012, Arrow launched on the CW. It was a new DC show centered around Oliver Queen, the wealthy playboy-turned-costumed-vigilante know as Green Arrow. It was an attempt to help fill the superhero void left on the CW when Smallville’s epic ten season run (2001-2011) came to an end. While Oliver Queen appeared on Smallville, the producers of Arrow decided to start fresh, casting Stephen Amell in the title role as opposed to Justin Hartley who played him on Smallville. But that was only the beginning. Arrow would beget The Flash (2014-present), the short-lived Constantine (2014-2015), Supergirl (2015-present), Legends of Tomorrow (2016-present), and three web series; Vixen (2015-2016), Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017-2018), and Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons. This Arrowverse has become a huge hit with critics and fans alike…and I’ve watched none of it. Why would I? Do you have any idea how big a time commitment that is?!!? And I’ve always been a Marvel guy anyway.
But now the Arrowverse has Batwoman and, because of that, everything’s changed. Continue reading
The Four Comics I Can’t Live Without
A few years ago, when I was counting down to my hundredth post on this site, I profiled the four comic books I’d found since my return to reading comics which had become indispensable to my reading life. These were the comics that, even if I stopped collecting comics again, I couldn’t imagine putting down. They showcased, for me, the best of what a comic could offer while doing things I never imagined a comic book could. They were (in the order I wrote about them in my countdown), Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, IDW’s Ghostbusters, and Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Thinking of those titles now, I can still feel the burgeoning excitement and awe that accompanied my return to comic reading. They also make me think of impermanence. Continue reading
The Unique Magic of G. Willow Wilson’s Wonder Woman
My near-exclusive Marvel fandom has been indelibly stamped on my being for over thirty years however I’ve wanted to read Wonder Woman since I saw Patty Jenkins’ brilliant film. She redefined everything a comic book movie could be/do in the summer of 2017 and I was captivated. Diana Prince is a uniquely important character too, who’s been a part of our popular culture since 1941. She is the archetypal female superhero. She’s part of DC’s Trinity and, no matter how much I love them, Marvel has no one like her. In short, she’s a character I should know. So I tried the first issue of Greg Rucka’s “Rebirth” run but found it more confusing than welcoming. Yet I kept trying, wanting to experience this character I’d fallen in love with at the movies in the genre she was born into. I researched “classic” or “definitive” Wonder Woman stories but jumping into the middle of seventy-seven years of stories, almost completely at random, felt a bit intimidating. Then came G. Willow Wilson. Continue reading
Revisiting (for no reason in particular) 1996’s Marvel Versus DC Event
You know when you have something stuck in your head and you can’t exorcise it until you experience it? Like a song you need to listen to or a movie you have to watch? Well, inexplicably, I’ve had 1996’s Marvel Comics VERSUS DC event stuck in my head for weeks. It’s so strong I’ve even been thinking of those Amalgam Comics they ran between the third and fourth issues of the series. So, like a particularly hooky song, in order to free my random mental musings from this event I decided to reread it. Even as a kid it seemed more like a popularity contest than a legitimate story but now, as an adult, I wanted to look at that more closely. Given these match-ups, do any of the victors make sense for any reason outside of who was the clear fan favorite? Continue reading
The BIG Question: Would You Rather Be Iron Man or Batman?
I spent the last week in New Orleans for a conference…where I saw none of the city as I was stuck in 12+ hours of meetings/seminars/lectures every day. BUT I did direct some of my mental energy towards contemplating one of life’s biggest, most pressing issues. You see, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne essentially have the same character framework. I’m not the first person to make this observation, but it’s true. Both are insanely wealthy. Both have brilliant minds. Both run huge companies. Both lost their parents when they were young (albeit in different circumstances). Both became superheroes. Both are founding/central members in one of their universe’s most important superhero teams – the Avengers and Justice League, respectively. Despite their similarities though, they are two VERY different characters with VERY different lives…which leads us to our BIG question – if you could choose, would you rather be Iron Man or Batman?? Continue reading
The Impossible Surprise of James Tynion IV’s Batman: Detective Comics
I have to tip my hat to James Tynion IV. He’s clearly one of our most talented modern comic writers. I’ve always been fairly ambivalent about DC. And I’ve never, ever liked Batman. I’ve said before I think he’s overrated. In fact, he kind of annoys me. He’s this grumpy malcontent whose emotional development stalled as the result of a childhood tragedy and now (somewhat ironically) recruits child soldiers to help him battle the most dangerous and disturbed minds on the planet. He’s too dark, dangerous, and dour to ever be my sort of superhero. BUT James Tynion IV has taken this character I’ve never liked and created a comic I love around him. His Detective Comics is the lone DC book I need to read in my world of Marvel and IDW titles. Continue reading