Harley Quinn: Series Premiere Review
For most of her existence, Harley Quinn has just been known as the maniacal love interest to the Joker within a very abusive and uncaring relationship. However, in recent years, she’s had quite the turn around. From being a top member of the Suicide Squad to teaming up with other DC female bad asses in groups like the Birds of Prey and the Gotham City Sirens, Harley has started to forge her own path in Gotham. However, we’ve never really seen her on her own and creating her own adventures and enemies – until now. With a perfectly foul and unfiltered mouth and a maniacally fun sense of wit, DC Universe’s newest animated series, Harley Quinn, puts the iconic DC character in the spotlight and doesn’t disappoint in delivering the kind of blood-splattering good time fitting for the titular character.
It’s kind of odd to say that DC comics, known for being dark, broody, and bloody, has looked buttoned-up and for kids, but this series sure as hell makes you feel that way. Honestly, I’ve never seen DC put out something so perfectly geared towards adults, maybe other than a few comic lines, and hit such strong comedic tones with Harley Quinn (voiced by Kaley Cuoco). Being no stranger to comedy herself, Cuoco thrives voicing the titular character and the hyped-up energy that she’s known for. When it comes to delivering lines that reflect that Harley’s fetish for the f-bomb and adoration for everything grotesque, raunchy, and colorful – including the Joker (voiced by Alan Tudyk).
However, things aren’t so manically keen as they’ve always been with the two as Harley seeks to have the same notoriety and seat at the Legion of Doom as the Joker – which just lands her in Arkham Asylum again patiently waiting for the Joker to bust her out to no avail. This small little arc throughout the premiere episode not only perfectly kicks off the series and Harley’s journey to become the top baddie in Gotham, but also provides a strong and empowering journey for her to find some self-worth. Without it trying too hard or being in your face, Harley’s realization of the Joker deceiving her for all this time hits pretty strong and touches on how his affection for fighting Batman has made me just another pawn in their on-going chess match. Her friendship with Poison Ivy (voiced by Lake Bell) is incredibly endearing and well told with their past together, and there’s some strong heart-to-heart moments that Harley, literally, has with herself. All of this leads to the incredible finale where Harley legitimately comes into her own and proves herself to be the confident badass we all know her as with her brutally beating down Joker’s thugs.
The series premiere also does a great job showcasing some of the other hilarious villains from Batman’s rouge’s gallery and nicely builds some context for the world that stems from The Killing Joke. The voices for other notable Gotham names are great and create some absolutely hilarious moments. From Calendar Man being unable to remember when his son’s birthday is to Joker hating that The Riddler (voiced by Jim Rash) is now dubbed as Gotham’s funniest villain, you’ve never seen Gotham’s most wanted as funny as here. Bell is great as Ivy as she is a comforting and slightly cynical friend to Harley, J.B. Smoove as Frank the plant a talking Venus Fly Trap, is perfectly raw and is easily the character I’m looking forward to seeing the most as the season continues, and while Tudyk’s Joker voice takes some getting used to, he’s earned his stripes as a voice actors and proves that even further by delivering some of the great lines as clown prince of crime. More importantly, though, all of these interactions allow for viewers to see iconic villains interact with one another without any heroes coming to break it up. It allows viewers to see villains in a new light and it’s darkly hilarious.
The laughs don’t stop when the caped crusader gets involved, though, and there’s some nice tie-ins to The Killing Joke and its effects on Jim Gordon (voiced by Christopher Meloni). I never thought I’d see Jim be so hilarious, but his drunken and lonely demeanor had me dying and Batman (voiced by Diedrich Bader) basically just trying to calm him down made it even better. There’s even a fun moment with Batman and Harley both guessing The Riddler’s riddle before he finishes explaining it. However, it’s not just for comedy-sake and ties back to Joker paralyzing Barbara in The Killing Joke and this episode even references it a couple of times. It’s nice that the series does dig its roots into some of DC’s lore and giving fans some nice tie-ins to some prominent Batman stories. Frankly, I’m excited to see more DC heroes and villains get involved throughout the rest of the season and take on some more darkly comedic tones.
Now, what would be a great animated show without great animation, right? No worries, because Harley Quinn comes set with a great color palette and fast-paced animation that comes together to create some beautifully bloody fight sequences that are some of DC’s best. While some of the blood splatter has some weird effects added to them, the broken bones and exploding heads feel right at home with Harley. The wackiness of everyone’s personality is captured greatly through the excellent character designs that feel unique to this series. Honestly, the entire style of the show, both animation and comedic, feels like a more adult, murderous, and maniacal version of Animaniacs and that’s totally a style that I can get down with.
Harley Quinn is a total blast and an absolute bloodbath with its killer animation and characters. Its great humor is matched by its fun characters and I couldn’t think of a better show that represents the iconic DC character’s rise to villain stardom. There’s nothing else like it for comic fans and those that have a fondness for Harley and have always wanted to see her strike out on her own, NEED to see this series.
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