Warning: contains spoilers for Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #4!
Once she was the Joker’s girlfriend and unappreciated sidekick, now Harley Quinn lives her own life of chaos and hilarity as a DC Comics antihero, although former adversaries like Batman may not notice much of a difference. Though Harley has recently been more of an ally to Batman, especially during the Joker War, Harley’s history and unpredictability make it difficult for Batman to consider her a true member of the Bat-Family. This disqualification is amusing considering that a member of that very family just almost revealed Batman’s secret identity in a manner that is surprising considering her intelligence.
In DC’s Black Label miniseries Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, the creative team responsible for Harley Quinn’s reinvention in the New 52 provide a sequel that features the female cast of the 2020 film of the same name. After a criminal organization does some serious damage to her Coney Island home and crew, Harley returns to Gotham for a little payback and a night on the town they’ll never forget. Despite being alongside fellow vigilantes/superheroes Huntress, Black Canary, Cassandra Cain and GCPD officer Renee Montoya, Harley runs into her fair share of trouble, managing to annoy almost everybody in town, including her ex-boyfriend, the Joker. Although Harley and her allies are able to deal with the consequences of Quinn’s actions, Harley is injured saving her partner Poison Ivy from an angry Joker and his new henchwoman.
In Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #4, Harley survives a near-death experience to wake up from a four-month-long coma. While she endures physical therapy to regain her strength, she’s stuck in a wheelchair while she’s passed from friend to friend whenever something comes up. Whether its superhero-related or they get tired of Harley’s enthusiasm, she ends up in the care of Barbara Gordon, a hero who has operated both as the vigilante Batgirl and ‘woman in the chair’ Oracle. While Barbara helps Harley with physical therapy and clean eating, a line is crossed when Harley interrupts Barbara’s apparent surveillance of Wayne Manor, somewhere Harley knows pretty well by now.
Barbara is considered a genius-level intellect, and the Bat-Family’s foremost expert on tech and digital defense, so it’s likely Harley actually caught her working on something top secret regarding Batman’s place of residence. Unfortunately, Barbara is also a human being and thus capable of making mistakes, but almost revealing Batman’s secret identity to someone who seems incapable of keeping a secret is a big error. Fortunately for Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Harley is so focused on keeping busy in her current state that she’d rather be helpful instead of using her psychology and deduction skills to connect the dots. It’s really no surprise that Barbara shortly after ends up sending her to stay at Renee Montoya’s apartment, who couldn’t be less overjoyed to have her.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner pack in more than enough content, energy, and humor into a short sequel that showcases why their Harley Quinn run was so successful with fans and critics. In this case, its not just the fact that Harley almost found out a secret that other Gotham villains would kill for that’s so delightful, but that the persona responsible was Barbara Gordon, someone whose reliance on technology almost blew the identity of the Bat-Family’s boss. While Harley Quinn eventually finds an adequate playmate in Cassandra Cain, one would hope Barbara Gordon learned her lesson to never check her superhero work while she has guests over – if only for Batman‘s sake.