To say that DC Comics has long relied on their Batman franchise to carry both comic book and multimedia sales is a gross understatement. A slightly less gross understatement is that Harley Quinn has quickly become one of his most successful spin offs of the past five years. To this end, since yesterday (January 18) Comicvine has reported that DC Comics is set to add both a one-shot and a mini series to Harley Quinn’s growing library of monthly comics, with co-publisher Jim Lee contributing on art for the former!
Pleased by the sales success of both her monthly ongoing series (which routinely sells within the top 10-25) as well as her latest spin off, “Harley’s Little Black Book” (which was announced in September and sold at #8 of the top ten, surpassing two “Star Wars” annuals), DC Comics will add a one-shot and a mini series to her schedule in 2016. Combined with her team-up book with Power Girl (titled “Harley Quinn & Power Girl” which sells roughly 31k an issue) and her regular membership in “New Suicide Squad” (which sells just above cancellation), the doctor turned demented anti-heroine already appears in at least four comics a month as 2015 came to an end (without including guest appearances in other books).
On April 6, DC Comics will issue a one-shot called “Harley Quinn & the Suicide Squad April Fool’s Special”. It will be forty pages long, written by Rob Williams and featuring art by the aforementioned Jim Lee alongside Scott Williams and Sean Galloway (also known as “Cheeks”). Both Lee and Galloway will also draw covers for it. It focuses on Harley Quinn using her doctor’s expertise to run an “Evil Anonymous” group for villains, but naturally things go wrong when both she and an unknown party start using their “therapy” against them. Coming a week later on April 13 will be the start of a mini series called “Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys”. It will run for six issues and be written by Frank Tieri and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Mauricet, with a main cover drawn by Amanda Conner. It focuses on Harley Quinn being kidnapped and her squad of hangers on, who have been introduced in her ongoing series, must mount a rescue. DC Comics has long had certain characters gain “families” of spare characters; historically this has been both Batman and Superman (who used to have specials printed which were literally called “Superman Family” or “Batman Family”). The fact that it is occurring with Harley Quinn is telling.
Originally created for the “Batman: the Animated Series” in 1992 by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and making her first technical appearance in a printed tie-in comic in 1993, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel made her first “official” appearance in the mainstream DC Universe in 1999’s “Batman: Harley Quinn”. She soon earned her own ongoing series, which ran for 38 issues from 2001-2003 and featured art from talent such as Terry Dodson. She has seen a resurgence in popularity despite a drastic costume redesign (done to tie into a video game) when she got a second shot at an ongoing series as one of the last launches of the “New 52” push in 2013. Written by Jimmy Palimiotti and Amanda Conner with art by Chad Hardin, the series offered a quirky and lighthearted comic compared to the grimy melodrama produced by the rest of the line. Very quickly it became apparent that DC Comics envisions her as their answer to the similarly violent anti-hero Deadpool offered by Marvel Comics (who at one point was appearing in five monthly comics in recent memory, including “April Fool’s” themes specials). Not only is this abundance based on her current strength in comic book sales, but the fact that the character will make her live action film debut in “Suicide Squad” on August 5 (played by Margot Robbie). Historians should note that it has taken Harley Quinn a mere 24 years to go from conception to big screen, while for Wonder Woman it took three quarters of a century. It will remain to be seen how having Harley pop up in at least six comics in April will shape up in terms of sales.