Top 5 Best Harley Quinn Comics Ever Written

Top 5 Harley Quinn Comics To Read ASAP

Author’s Note: Very highly recommend picking up the Harley & Ivy: Deluxe Edition Hardcover which includes the 3 Issue Mini-Series along with 5 other stories, a few of which are featured in the list below.

Earlier in my article writing, I did a top five list of my Top 5 Harley Quinn Episodes from Batman: The Animated Series. Given that our loveable slapstick, zany conundrum of flared excitement came over from the animation world into the comic book realm, I thought it would be only fitting to do a bit of an addendum to the previous article by ranking my Top 5 Favorite Harley Quinn Comics. Note the phrasing and inclusion of favorite as I’m fully aware that there may be better written stories and others may prefer a wide variety of other issues but these are my personal favorites. I do tend to lean more towards the slapstick aspect of Harley’s personality as opposed to the darker, murderous edge that has seemed to permeate DC’s current New 52 run.

I love Harley Quinn, adore her character, and am generally just fascinated with her. I get why they changed the costume, emulating more towards her appearance in the highly successful Batman games by Rocksteady but I cannot get behind the execution. The red and blue color scheme alone is just so wrong for her character and I despise cutting her costume from a full body suit that showed off her curves to a costume that openly displays the goods while leaving almost nothing to the imagination except another cheesed up woman as nothing more than a model to be ogled at. A lot of her costume charm was that she didn’t resemble the Poison Ivy’s of the villain world.

Now we have a new Harley Quinn series coming down the pike in November written by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti along with a new artist in Chad Hardin who will be starting on issue #1. I’ll wait and see on this series although I really enjoyed some of Karl Kesel and Terry Dodson’s work on her series from 2001 – 2003 (which ran 38 issues). Worth seeking out if you have some spare pocket change. I’m cool leaning towards negative on the cover of her 1st issue seeing as yet again she’s dolled up/sexed up compared to her peers whom all have long leg length pants yet Harley is essentially wearing panties and an odd quasi-corset looking top, that bares her midriff of course, that also links into the shoulder pads. What is so wrong with Harley’s classic look? It’s also briefly worth noting the outcry and outrage over DC’s idea to try and find artists by including a 4 panel spread related to Harley committing suicide with the worst offender being Harley naked in a tub and having toasters, etc. hanging above waiting to be dropped by her hand. The idea is fine but the execution would dissolve into cheesecaking with the ‘concept’ being the afterthought instead of the forethought.

Okay, enough with my mini-ranting because I need to count down my favorite comics. First, however, I will go with a few honorable mentions that most would maybe think of first.

Also check out the Gotham Girls comic series (and webisodes on top of that). Issue 3 is Harley-centric and a lot of fun. There’s a fun little scene related to a fake hall of mirrors that Harley runs into while being chased by Catwoman although the comic is probably more known for the Harley needs to re-affirm her intelligence to Ivy/the group scene that takes place afterwards.

Honorable Mention 1: Batman Detective Comics #831
Writer: Paul Dini
Pencils: Don Kramer
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Colors: John Kalisz
Plot: Harley gets kidnapped following her latest rejection from parole by Sugar and Scarface so she can help with a laundering heist with Batman hot on their trail.

The artwork is absolutely gorgeous on the close ups of Harley as seen in the panel below and the book contains some great Dini writing of Harley as well as a memorable ending sequence related to Harley and the original Ventriloquist. This book has some of my favorite depictions of Harley in terms of realistic artwork that I’ve seen and is well worth seeking out.

Honorable Mention 2: Batman – Harley Quinn
Writer: Paul Dini
Pencils: Yvel Guichet
Inker: Aaron Sowd
Colors: Richard and Tanya Horie
Plot: Poison Ivy stumbles upon Harley after Joker tried to kill her and with some help from Ivy, Harley tries to get revenge on Joker.

Most would probably have this in their Top 5, if not for nostalgic reasons above anything else seeing as this is Harley’s canonical introduction into the comic book world.

The plot is solid for the most part and there aren’t many qualms to be had although Harley’s gaining enhanced abilities via Poison Ivy’s serum has always rubbed me the wrong way in that Harley’s never been showcased as a formidable foe physically. I like that Harley’s size and gymnastics background allows for her to be overlooked as a fighter physically and enhancing all of that for the sake of fighting comes off to me as making her more of a fit for the comic superhero world as opposed to the original reasoning of simply being able to deal with Ivy’s lair/hideout. The plot is a decent melding of two Harley-centric episodes from BTAS in Harlequinade and Mad Love with slight tweaks and Harley has several solid lines throughout the issue.

The artwork is really solid and there are some fun moments where the artists had some fun, such as the costume trying bit as well as the fight scenes between Harley and Joker towards the end. The written note to Batman is a real highlight as well.

Honorable Mention 3: Batman Adventures #3
Writer: Ty Templeton
Pencils: Rick Burchett
Inker: Terry Beatty
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Plot: Thanks to some shock therapy/aversion therapy/diet therapy, Harley Quinn finds out that she has a loving, devoted Joker at her beck and call. Unfortunately for Harley, she figures out that sometimes one has to be careful what they wish for.

The plot is an absolute blast given the nature of Harley and Joker’s relationship and it’s both fun and fascinating to see Harley’s utter hatred of what she ends up getting. There are a lot of nice gags that work mostly due to Harley’s reaction shots and a scene later in the book is a fun callback to Harley’s Holiday from BTAS as well as a bit of an obvious way to get her Joker back. The only slight downside is that the Harley/Joker relationship is a bit too brief compared to the ensuing Joker/Shadow Assassin/Batman fight that happens at the end of the story.

The artwork is mostly solid with some panels coming off much better than others. I really like how the artists allow for Joker to be the sweet, goofy, 50’s style boyfriend to Harley and all Harley can do is display utter despair to the point that she tries to get Joker killed via assassination. It is pretty clear that the artists were having fun being able to draw Joker in a complete 180 to his usual temperament and Harley was given some nice moments to show off her own darker edge.

Now that we have gotten our honorable mentions out of the way, let’s get onto the countdown of my Top 5 Favorite Harley Quinn Comics!

Number Five: The Batman Adventures #28
Writer: Kelley Puckett
Pencils: Mike Parobeck
Inker: Rick Burchett
Colors: Rick Taylor
Plot: Harley Quinn dresses up as a German psychiatrist while Batman investigates a group of politicians who have steadily gone insane in order of descending weight.

The plot could have come right out of a Batman: The Animated Series episode with regards to a Christmas themed episode where Harley runs with Joker’s plan to escape while Batman is occupied with the psychotic councilmen. It doesn’t try to do too much and the concept behind the insanity in terms of going by descending weight just rings true to Harley’s character and again helps separate her own mental abilities from those of Batman and Joker. The highlight is the end with Harley failing to catch a vial of the psychotic medicine and the last panel is a delusion of the happiness between Harley and Joker.

The artwork is kept pretty basic and simple, serving its purposes well and heavily influenced by the BTAS character designs. Joker looks off in some panels but this is one of my favorite cartoonish designs related to Harley Quinn. By not going too detailed at all, the artwork really shows off Harley’s cartoon origins from BTAS as opposed to the general modern day reflection of making sure that the characters are ultra-realistic in depiction.

Number Four: Batman Gotham Knights #14 (The Bet)
Writer: Paul Dini
Pencils/Inks: Ronnie Del Carmen
Colors: None
Plot: Harley and Ivy make a bet to see who can kiss the most men for $1 (after Harley’s admission that she misses men aka Mr. J) while locked up at Arkham Asylum.

It is a quick little black & white scene but there is something fun about the nature of the bet and seeing Harley actually have to use her feminine wiles by going up against Ivy as opposed to using enhanced strength or quick thinking/gymnastics ability to escape a situation. Nice to see Ivy’s shock at Harley stealing the man she just kissed for a kiss of her own before we witness Harley’s growing fury as Ivy easily exceeds her total. The highlight is Ivy trying to persuade Joker to kiss her as Harley wails in upset tears only for the reader to find out that Harley set up Ivy with some outside help from The Ventriloquist. I really, really love the facial expressions as well and the entire scene reads like one of the bits from the Batman: The Animated Series episode Holiday Knights.

Number Three: Harley and Ivy #1
Writer: Paul Dini
Pencils: Bruce Timm
Inker: Shane Glines
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Plot: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn set up to steal a rare, prized zombie root only for Harley to goof and mess up the date, leading to Batman showing up and foiling the plan. Afterwards, Ivy decides to take off alone but takes pity on Harley.

Just a fun romp and a blast to see Ivy’s smoldering rage at Harley in a depiction that rarely occurs during scenes of their partnership/relationship in general. I really like that throughout the entire book, we see Harley oblivious to how Ivy’s feeling internally but at the end of the day, Harley sees Ivy as her best friend and merely wants Ivy to see her the same way despite whatever trials and tribulations come their way.

The artwork is really good and I adore Shane Gline’s work so I was ecstatic to see his name as the inker for the 3 issue run. Timm and Gline really work well together and the coloring by Loughridge holds its own. A lot of the panels evoke that Batman: The Animated Series vibe for good reason and the visions that Ivy has are a particular highlight as seen below. Just the simple expression makes it work even better. This issue is known as much for the shower scene & aftermath but if you haven’t read it, it’s well worth seeking out the entire 3 issue run. The 2nd book in the series is just as much fun but settles into a bit more action scenery plotwise and I only wanted to include one issue from the run.


Credit to Casketsaleman’s blog

Number Two: Batman Adventures – Mad Love
Writer: Paul Dini
Pencils: Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami
Inker: Bruce Timm
Colors: Bruce Timm and Rick Taylor
Plot: Harley Quinn’s origin story as she comes up with an idea to kill Batman after Joker fails and kicks her out, while recounting how she became a psychiatrist wanting to write a tell-all book about the Serial Killer’s mind but fell for Joker instead.

If you have seen the Batman: The Animated Series adaptation of the story than you pretty much have the exact same plot. It’s a really tightly woven plot with a great introduction to Harley Quinn’s character and a sensible reasoning behind her creation and association with Joker. There are a lot of little scenes in the comic that really make it worth reading in addition to the BTAS version including several reaction scenes and the hilarious smitten daydreams Harley has of the future between Joker and herself that intermittently pop up.

The artwork is simply outstanding and it is easy to see how adaptable this was for the television series. The best artwork can tell a story over an entire page without any necessary dialogue or expository narration or thought balloons. Pictures speak a thousand words and there are a ton of outstanding panels. The job done by both Paul Dini & Bruce Timm makes it easy to see why this won the Eisner Award for Best Single Story in 1994.

Number One: Batgirl Adventures #1
Writer: Paul Dini
Pencils: Rick Burchett
Inker: Rick Burchett
Colors: Rick Taylor
Plot: Poison Ivy gets kidnapped by mobsters and Harley Quinn has to rely on the help from Batgirl to save Poison Ivy.

No Batman or Robin in sight, this is all about the relationship between Batgirl and Harley Quinn throughout the story. The plot is almost superfluous as this genuinely fun ride is carried almost entirely by the interaction between Batgirl, Harley, and the desire to help Ivy. In a lot of ways, this is a female version of the episode Harlequinade yet there are so many great little character touches throughout the story. The highest praise I can give a comic is that I wish it had been animated and this gets every single morsel of that phrase I can dish out. The characterizations are genius from Harley’s nickname for Batgirl (Bratgirl) being utilized as a plot point later in the story to Batgirl cuffing Harley much like Batman had to Harley’s adorable costume designed for the Winter season (much like Batgirl’s green cape) that the book finds itself in. In many ways, this is even more of a BTAS story than Mad Love was.

Rick Burchett hits the home run of a lifetime here. Some of the panels are a bit hit & miss but the shadows, expressions, and motion of limb movement are stellar throughout the story. The art is slightly more detailed than say Batman Adventures #28 but the same feel and vibe is accomplished here. It’s a great marriage between that book and Mad Love in terms of allowing the simple art and fantastic facial expressions to carry boxes within panels. Several of the panels easily rival Mad Love in terms of saying everything through a character’s expressions.

With that all said, the most memorable part of the story is the sudden subtext turned textual conversation between Harley and Batgirl regarding both of their ‘best friend’ same sex relationships. In some ways, it’s unfortunate that scene has overtaken some of the other panels as there are a lot of standout little moments throughout that deserve a spotlight.

So there you have it, my Top 5 Favorite Harley Quinn Comics. If you think I overlooked any issues or have a quibble with where I ranked something, let me know in the comments below!

Credit to DCComics.com for feature image

Written by David Hunter

David Hunter enjoys writing about wrestling, sports, music, and horror!

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