Review: DC’s Harley Quinn Romances
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Alexis Quasarano, Zipporah Smith, Amanda Deibert, Frank Allen, Raphael Draccon, Carolina Munhoz, Greg Lockard, Jessica Berbey, Ivan Cohen
Artists: SEE GRAPHIC
Colorists: SEE GRAPHIC
Letterers: SEE GRAPHIC
Reviewed by: Kelly Gaines
DC is celebrating valentine’s season with eight stories of love, loss, romance, and dating mishaps featuring everyone’s favorite romance guru, Harley Quinn, and a cast of other quirky heroes and villains. Though Harley is not the main character in every story, they each evoke her tell-tale sparkle of ridiculousness and whimsy, making this a fun read for anyone who has wondered what Batman does on Valentine’s Day, how a superhero dating app would work, or what kind of fan-fiction Harley would write about Poison Ivy.
The anthology kicks off with Harley’s own Valentine’s Day adventure (Stranger than Fanfiction), in which Harley attempts to give Ivy a thoughtfully written gift at an arguably inopportune time, followed by Here’s to Jack, Here’s to Molly, in which Batman’s V-Day patrol puts him in the crosshairs of a couple’s engagement and a less-than-competent villain. The stories that follow engage characters from all across the DC Universe, including Power Girl and Jimmy Olsen (Power Girl and All-American-Boy), John Constantine and Deadman (Grace), Fire and Ice (Fire and Ice in Dating App Disaster), Apollo and Midnighter (Across the Multiverse), Kite Man (Once Upon a Romance Novel), and Vixen, Poison Ivy, Zatanna, Harley, Barda, and Aquaman in Splendor in the Foam. The tone ranges from silly to heartwarming, successfully addressing the whole buffet of emotions that come with this loved and dreaded holiday.
The anthology is bright, vibrant, beautifully illustrated, and a lot of fun to consider. The variety of characters lends some much-needed page time to heroes we don’t see too often, like Fire and Ice, while capturing the fan-beloved vibe of HBO Max’s Harley Quinn in stories like Once Upon a Romance Novel. The collection feels close to a “What If” series – what if Batman was invited to a stranger’s wedding? What if Harley Quinn wrote a YA story about her relationship with Ivy? What if John Constantine set Deadman up on a blind date? What if a collection of DC’s most eligible ladies compared Aquaman experiences over a Galentine’s Day brunch? Our heroes live in a state of constant crisis and adversity, which makes stories like these a nice change of pace- a satisfying taste of normalcy amidst wall-to-wall world-ending threats. It’s certainly a relief to see that superheroes (and villains) are just like us when it comes to dating. They have nosy family members that try to set them up with co-workers, dating app dates that make them want to throw their phone (or the whole internet) in the trash, and they feel lonely and isolated on solo valentine’s days. The subject matter casts a wide net, pretty much guaranteeing that whatever you’re going through this February, there’s a super-someone who knows just how you feel.
As fun as the story concepts are, some of the execution left me scratching my head. Stories like Power Girl and the All-American-Boy seem fun at the outset but come to quick and ultimately predictable endings. I also questioned the logic behind the concept of a dating app that holds all of the registered heroes’ location information in an easily hackable site. Sure, the characters address this potential security risk too, but it’s a bit of a leap to say they would’ve been foolish enough to engage with the app in the first place. It’s safe to say that any holiday anthology (especially one featuring Harley Quinn) should be taken with a BIG grain of suspended disbelief. They’re meant to be fun, not a deep dive into canon character traits and established lore. Even so, there were moments I felt the stories needed a bit more to make the conclusions satisfying. Anthology shorts don’t give creators a ton of space to work with, so it’s not unfathomable that some stories would feel a little too quick, but I definitely had moments of “Oh, that’s it?” a tad too often while reading.
DC’s Harley Quinn Romances is a pleasant read for fans of Harley Quinn, and any DC fan looking for a low-pressure imaginative ride through the love lives of our favorite characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a wide range of art styles and zany concepts. Some of the follow-throughs could be improved, but all in all, I think Harley herself would get a kick out of these stories.