Harley Quinn has become so ingrained in the Batman-Joker dynamic that it is difficult to remember a time when she didn’t exist. However, Mr. J’s main squeeze has only been around since September 1992 when Paul Dini and Bruce Timm needed a female sidekick to jump out of a cake on Batman: The Animated Series. Dini has said in a number of interviews that a scene on the daytime drama Days of Our Lives where his friend Arleen Sorkin wore this costume inspired Harley’s look (and even got Sorkin the job of providing the character’s voice).
Harley was an instant hit. She became Joker’s girlfriend, his gal Friday, and a fixture on the cartoon series. It was only a matter of time before she crossed over into comic books, and that is where the big question comes in: what is Harley Quinn’s official first appearance in the main DC universe?
The first time Harley appeared in a comic book is Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993), and that is the book that is generally listed as Harley’s first appearance. However, that series was born out of the cartoon and is outside of the main DC continuity. The CGC note on a graded copy says, “1st Appearance of Harley Quinn in comics (out of DC continuity)”
It is like the old Super Friends comic book based on the popular 1970s cartoon, or the Spidey Super Stories series that sprung out of Spider-Man’s appearances on the PBS kids show The Electric Company.
As much as people may love Wendy, Marvin, Wonderdog, the Wonder Twins, and Gleek, their appearances in Super Friends do not mean they are part of the DC Universe. Same with Easy Reader and Marvel’s continuity. None of these stories is canon, same as Harley’s appearance in The Batman Adventures and later in the Eisner and Harvey award-winning graphic novel Batman Adventures: Mad Love (February 1994). CGC notes on this issue say, “Origin of Harley Quinn out of DC continuity”.
As for Harley’s first appearance in actual DC continuity, it shockingly took more than five years after she popped out of that cake on TV. Dini once again returned to the character as the author of Batman: Harley Quinn Special #1 (January 1999) that featured this iconic Alex Ross cover. The CGC note on a graded copy says, “Origin and 1st appearance of Harley Quinn in DC Universe continuity”
So, officially, that book is her first appearance in DC continuity, but that doesn’t make Batman Adventure #12 any less valuable. That also makes Batman #570 (October 1999) her 2nd appearance.
What is your opinion on the matter? Are you an “innie”, in continuity or an “outie” outside DC continuity?
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by Rob Otto