Welcome to So You Want to Read, a series about starting franchise comics, either from the beginning or by my own recommendations. Whenever possible I’m going off of the Trade Paperback/Collected Editions. I’m not super well-versed in either of the subjects of this edition, haven’t read a ton of this, so I collapsed them into one list.
Oh, man. Oh, man, this comic.
This is an Eisner-winning comic and it deserves it. (The Eisner are the Oscars of comics) This comic told Harley Quinn’s origin for the first time and was the first time she was the focus of any kind of story. Written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm with art by Timm and Glen Murakami, the book is stylish, well laid out, and so sharply written you may forget you’re reading. It delves into her relationship with the Joker in real depth and makes the formerly minor character into a real person.
It was also adapted into a fan-favorite episode of the New Batman Adventures. The cartoon is good. The comic is great.
Currently available in a volume with other stories titled (fittingly enough) Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories.
Okay, so Harley doesn’t show up until Issue 12 in Volume 2 (her first comic appearance), but I’m recommending this entire series regardless. It’s based on the seminal Batman the Animated Series and is somehow just as good. Currently available in several volumes of paperbacks.
Harley and Ivy:
Again written by Paul Dini with Timm on art, Harley and her bestie Poison Ivy (the girlfriend thing comes later) go on a rampage through Gotham and end up in Hollywood. The paperback currently available also includes other The Batman Adventures stories including the super fun Batgirl Adventures one-shot.
Harley in the DCU:
The above comics are based on the animated series and Harley ‘s appearances in those; the following take place firmly in DC’s standard publishing universe. (If it’s too much for you, these are comics with continuity from older comics, the other ones are comics based on a TV show based on older comics.) On a related note, none of these HAVE to be read after any other series, but the listing is chronological.
She didn’t actually appear in the main DC Comic Universe until 2000 in a one-shot entitled, fittingly enough, Batman: Harley Quinn. It was collected in a paperback of the same name with another assortment of Harley-centric stories.
This is part of the No Man’s Land crossover, although it doesn’t impact the story much. If you’re a completist, No Man’s land is collected separately in three paperbacks.
After that Harley got an ongoing series. I haven’t read it, but it’s highly regarded.
Oddly enough, the paperbacks of the series are not numbered. The volumes are in the order that follows:
1.Preludes and Knock Knock Jokes
2.Night and Day
3.Welcome to Metropolis
Gotham City Sirens:
Paul Dini wrote the first book in this series starring Harley, Ivy, and Catwoman with a second volume by Peter Calloway, once again, have not read, but have heard good things.
Legends was a DC Universe crossover where the modern incarnation of squad first debut. Not required reading by any stretch, but if you want to see them from the start, here you go.
Suicide Squad by John Ostrander:
THIS IS IT, BABY. This is the good stuff. The series established what the Squad was and why it mattered. It wasn’t afraid to be dark and was certainly not afraid to be funny. It was smart, sexy and scary. (And by sexy I mean sleek and spy like. Not the gratuitous way Harley has been sexualized for the past decade.)
If you’re going to read one Suicide Squad series, it NEEDS to be this one.
This title by Gail Simone is not technically a Suicide Squad book but is very much its spiritual successor and a great series in and of itself. Much of the cast of the movie also appears in it.
Suicide Squad (New 52):
I’m putting this up because it’s there and a Suicide Squad series. It’s there if you want to read it, but I say avoid it like the plague. This is the series that started Harley being over sexualized in the comics and is just not a great book in general.
There’s also a follow-up, New Suicide Squad that’s supposed to be much better.
Harley Quinn’s New 52 Ongoing:
Harley got a solo series in the New 52 that reconciled her original version with the New 52 reboot and returned agency to the character. The closest thing DC has to a Deadpool series, it’s fun and mirthful.Harley is established as bisexual, goes to Comicon, and even gets over the Joker. It’s a series well worth checking out.
There are also two spinoff series. The first is Harley Quinn and Power Girl where the Clown Princess and Kryptonian heroine go on an adventure through space.
The second spinoff is Harley’s Little Black Book, where Harley teams up with the heroes and villains of the wider DCU. There doesn’t appear to be a collection yet.
Gotham Academy-Killer Kroc
DC Comics Presents: Batman and the Outsiders or Katana by Nocenti-Katana
Flash: Dastardly Death of the Rogues-Captain Boomerang
Flashpoint: Secret Seven (Collected in World of Flashpoint: Batman) –Enchantress
Nicoli Raymond is a writer based out of Illinois. He writes scripts, short stories, and articles on pop culture. He tweets at @NicoliRaymond Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org . He’s probably not going to see Suicide Squad in theaters. As always, feedback is welcome.
Image Copyright of DC Comics