Bat-Month Returns: Harlequinade

The Ladies of Comicazi are pleased to present Bat-Month: a four week event in which we discuss our favorite episodes of the amazing Batman: The Animated Series, culminating in an in-store Batman event at Comicazi.  

On May 10th, we will be hosting an in-store Batman event at Comicazi. We will be serving Batman themed snacks and showing our four favorite episodes, plus one additional episode chosen by YOU! Just pick your favorite episode of the six below. If you need a refresher on the episodes in contention, check out the entries for each episode in The DC Animated Universe Wiki. The polls will close on May 9th at 5pm. Cast your vote, then come to our Batman event to see the winner!

In this week’s post, Tiny Doom waxes poetic about about her favorite episode: Harlequinade.

Note: This post is all about spoilers so if you haven’t seen this super fun episode, go watch it and then come back to read this post.

It’s late May in 1994.  I have just gotten home from school.  After ditching my stuff I settle in with a plate of bagel bites and I consciously decide not to start my homework until I’ve watched my stories.  My stories are of course Batman: The Animated Series.

What a coincidence!  This week it’s my favorite episode: Harlequinade.

titlecard

That’s right Mista J!

Rundown: In this episode we see the Joker’s “girlfriend”, Harley Quinn get sprung from Arkham Asylum to help Batman track down an atomic-bomb-wielding Joker. Essentially this is a team-up episode with Batman promising Harley freedom from Arkham if she helps him track down The Joker (but no double crossing).

As the title would imply this is a fairly slapstick episode with the clown and the harlequin playing key roles in what is ultimately a more comedic take on a love story.  As B:TAS is better known for being a darker, more dramatic animated series, that makes this episode more unique, though some darker messages do brew beneath the lighter surface.

This episode is really Harley’s chance to shine.  You get to see that she’s more than just The Joker’s “girlfriend” (for lack of a better term), but that she’s capable in her own right (we will see her escape from Batman and come pretty close to taking out The Joker).  That said, it’s a mystery to even the great bat-detective as to why she’s hitched her wagon to the Clown Prince of Crime. When Batman first comes to ask for Harley’s help he also tries to figure out her feeling for The Joker.  He asks her if she thinks it’s funny when he hurts people.  Harley, who in her previous life as psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel spent all her time listening to other people’s problems, simply replies “It’s just a joke.”

This joke, however, becomes too real for Harley when at the end of the episode Batman and Robin point out that the 10 minute timer the Joker put on the atomic bomb would not have left enough time for him to swing by Arkham to pick her up.  While this seems to annoy her, she also starts to get the bigger picture:

Harley Quinn: But what about all our friends? Ivy and Two-Face and… Hat Guy and Lizard Man and Puppet Head and…

The Joker: What about them?

Batman: Don’t forget your little pets!

Harley Quinn: [gasp] The babies! We can’t leave the babies!

babies

The Babies!

When the Joker implies a goldfish could replace her beloved hyena “babies”, Harley snaps.  She kicks the Joker out of the doorway of the escape plane, and frees Batman so he and Robin can shut down the bomb.  A final confrontation ensues and Harley gets the upper hand.  As she stares down the Joker, he dares her pull the trigger of the giant gun she has in his face.  Even Batman looks worried.  Trigger pulled, the gun pokes out a flag that unravels to read “Rat Tat Tat”.

rattat

The joke’s on who?

The Joker looks relieved, and Harley looks surprised.  Did she know it was a joke gun?

surprise

I like to think she didn’t.  I also like to think the Joker thought the same, since once he regains his composure, he opens his arms and declares “Baby!  You’re the greatest!”

madlove

Mad love indeed.

Musical interlude:
For me (and probably everyone), the defining scene of this episode is when, after crashing a gangster club, Harley runs interference in the form of a cabaret act so Robin can rescue Batman.

harley singing

Say that we’re sweethearts again…

The most mindblowing thing I learned recently?  The song she sings was not just written for the show!

Additional some highlights:
Best Harley line: ” And here you thought I was just another bubble headed blonde bimbo.  Well joke’s on you…I’m not even a real blonde!”

Fashion: The Joker has an outfit for every occasion including a striped old timey swimsuit and an aviator outfit.

jokeravaitor

The Purple Baron

jokerswim

Cannonball!

What I love: Harley being Harley- I DON’T like the direction this character has gone lately.  By this I mean the over-sexualized, goth/biker version of Harley as seen in the Batman: Arkham City video game.  This B:TAS Harley is my Harley.  Sweetly exaggerated craziness that is still fun, sexy, and not as dumb as everyone thinks she is.
Sidenote: Lego Harley is also totally adorable.

Check The Goog’s blog along where he discusses the episode “Showdown”, with Batman and Jonah Hex!

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4 comments

  1. itsthegoog

    I am still floored by the fact that the song was not made up for the show! Also, does it matter than I keep choosing a different episode in the poll each week? I can’t make up my mind!

  2. Gary

    Another fine episode. I couldn’t agree more with you about how Harley is being portrayed recently. I want the old Harley back. By the way, just like Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are the Batman and Joker respectively, Arleen Sorkin is the definitive voice of Harley for me.

    • tinydoom

      Totally agree Gary! Before watching this episode for the post, I hadn’t seen it in AGES. It was so much fun to see it again. I especially loved the reminder that Harley can totally get one over on the Joker if she wanted to.

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