We’re coming up on the end of this miniseries, and the various plot threads are finally starting to converge. The bat family is wrapping up their investigation of Black Mask, and Ivy has constructed her Ladies and Nonbinaries of Doom. The relationship drama between Harley, Harley’s new “team”, Ivy, and Ivy’s ex is also finally being addressed.
Like so many issues in the series, this opens with a raunchy scene between Harley and Ivy, this time in Ivy’s dreams. However, instead of simply being used for spicy fluff, it uses Ivy’s fantasies as a way of expressing her relationship struggles. With her ex back in town and the flame between them clearly not quite gone, she’s grasping for a simple solution. Plugging that into a sex fantasy that involves both her and Harley (and let’s throw Vixen in there for good measure) is a way of incorporating what’s bothering her into her everyday thoughts.
Harley’s own confrontation with her relationship issues with Ivy are as a result of her teaming up with the bat family. Instead of bottling it up in erotic fantasies, she talks it out with Vixen and her girlfriend Elle. Giving the characters a chance to simply sit down and talk about the problem can often be a great way of expressing their thoughts and emotions without relying on expository narration boxes. However, the conversations with Elle often feel like fan-insert thoughts as opposed to someone who exists within the universe.
She (and others in the series) will talk about “Harlivy” like it’s a fan ship that everyone knows about and treats them like fictional characters whose story you watch for entertainment. Now of course, they are fictional characters whose stories we watch for entertainment, but rather than doing any sort of meta humor with that fact, the way they’re discussed just doesn’t fit with how you’d talk to a real person. Even using terms like “antihero” feels strange when you’re discussing the role a real person plays in their life as opposed to a narrative trope. At one point Elle even mentions “Elseworlds” in a way that I’m not sure what it’s supposed to mean in context.
One potentially new relationship that is proving to be a lot of fun is Damian and Cassandra Cain’s. Now, I’m extremely hesitant to say this because of DC’s history with this sort of thing. They love pairing various Batgirls with whatever Robin they can, and it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve aged down a previously adult female character so that Damian could have a love interest. If anyone at DC is reading this, do not try to make this work in main continuity.
That being said, I like the dynamic that Damian and Cass have here. Damian has always had a thing for dangerous women (it was implied in Dini’s Streets of Gotham series that he had a crush on Katana) and his reaction as he watches Cass beat up Barbara is hilarious. His overcompensating bravado mixed with her cool nonchalance is my favorite sequence in the issue, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future.
While I’m glad that the plot for the series seems to be moving forward, it seems that a number of overly convenient narrative leaps are required to make that happen. This is most noticeable with the bat family’s investigation, since that’s the part of the story that needs plot development so that the overall story can move forward. In order to get the heroes where they need to be, they need information. Since none of that has been built up prior to now, Nightwing has a contact that can tell him everything they need. That informant has never been mentioned before now and presumably will never be mentioned again.
There is also little justification for what brings the “extra” members of the bat family along. Last issue Barbara was told to babysit Cass, and she’s shown to be physically capable, which I guess(?) is enough justification to bring her. However, Tiffany feels totally out of left field. She just shows up to their secret hideout and joins them. When asked how she found them, “my father is Lucius Fox” is apparently enough to answer all questions, despite the fact that Lucius is not directly involved with any bat stuff. We also aren’t told why they bring her on the mission itself. Dedicated readers might know that she’s supposed to be a future Batgirl in some continuities, but aside from that they bring a random little girl to a dangerous fight for no reason.
Once we get to the big action sequence, the pace starts to pick up and the story delivers on some exciting (albeit extremely brief) fight sequences. I still don’t love Jon Mikel’s art, but this issue is an improvement over the previous ones that he’s been a part of. The style remains overly basic such that it doesn’t add much to the story’s presentation, but there aren’t any glaring issues with it either. The fight scene especially is a noticeable improvement, as the chaotic energy of the action lends itself well to what’s happening on the page and you never feels lost as to what’s happening in the scene.
- You’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop with Harley and Ivy’s secrets
- You like scenes of the characters just hanging out
- Damian and Cass make a good murder baby pair
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Legion of Bats! #5 finally moves the story’s plot forward, albeit with some hiccups along the way. The behavior of both the plot and some of the characters don’t always make the most sense, but there’s enough to like for those who are fans of the series’ characters. Most of the time is still spent with them passively waiting until something happens, though those moments are still able to offer some fun moments.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.