This week, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are reunited with their version of Harley Quinn - picking up the character’s story only hours after the last moment they spent with her at the finale of their Harley Quinn run.
This new Black Label limited series Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey will feature interior artwork by Conner and gives the co-writing team the chance to play with some of the same characters who star with Harley in the current live action film, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Conner and Palmiotti co-wrote the Harley Quinn series from 2013-2018, making it one of DC’s best-selling titles and bringing Harley into a new era. The character was originally introduced by screenwriters Bruce Timm and Paul Dini as Joker’s girlfriend, but the Harley Quinn series gave her renewed power as a solo anti-hero and beloved DC icon.
Newsarama talked to Palmiotti and Conner about theis upcoming four-issue series, what it was like teaming Harley with the Birds, and whether fans of their Harley Quinn run might see other familiar characters.
Newsarama: Amanda and Jimmy, I know you took a break from this character for a couple years, but was it tough to get away from her? Did you find yourself wanting to write her again because you still had her in your head?
Amanda Conner: It’s true.
Jimmy Palmiotti: And they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, doing a Black Label book. And then the challenge of working the Birds of Prey into a story was fun to do.
We just couldn’t pass it up.
DC said, look, you can do whatever you want. Make it four issues, or whatever you want, and Amanda has to draw it.
And we were like, “OK!”
Conner: That didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting on my part, because I really do love the drawing part the best.
Nrama: Is this book picking up where you left off in your run? Or starting somewhere else?
Conner: It’s funny because it’s actually picking up exactly where we left off, as if it was the next issue the next month.
Palmiotti: Yeah, no disrespect for everybody working on the regular series, but our last issue - this takes place a couple of hours later.
I think we ended our issue with Harley and Ivy heading out on a boat to vacation, and then the new book opens pretty much with them on an island and having to deal with the fact that they’re kind of stuck there.
We just figured that if we’re not following all the continuity, why not just continue where we left off?
Nrama: You’re getting to team her with the Birds. I’m sure you still have a similar tone to your Harley Quinn run, but how is this different? Do the personalities and skills and baggage of the other characters bring a different feel to this?
Conner: Yeah. It’s fun because we get to do Harley interacting with - the way we’ve written it is that she knows them. So, we have a whole new bunch of characters for her too torment.
So it’s always fun to have Harley interact with new characters and different characters, and see how they react to her or how they want to get away from her.
Palmiotti: Yeah, our series - we basically, what we worked on for four or five years was Harley in Coney Island on her own, and we only brought her to Gotham, I think, three times in all those issues.
Conner: Was it really three?
Palmiotti: Yeah, it was like 117 issues or something. We only brought her back to Gotham a few times.
So this time, it’s a lot of fun because we’re bringing her back to Gotham where she’s interacting with other females superheroes.
And it’s like writing a book where it’s less about the adventures of Harley and it’s more like, what’s Harley going to destroy or leave in her path, and how are these heroes going to deal with her?
It has a lot of the feel of the movie as well, even though we were working on it, you know, before it. It has that interaction that you see on the screen.
So for people who have been reading Harley stories, it’s great. It’s an easy grab. But people who have never read Harley, but maybe saw the movie and want to pick up a book, it’s actually a perfect book for him, because it tonally just pulls them in to some more story.
Nrama: Since this is tangential to your in-continuity Harley Quinn title, are the version of the Birds of Prey something we’ve seen before in comic books? Or are they more like the film?
Conner: You know, for the most, with the exception of Black Canary, we were trying to get a grasp on the characters because we didn’t know them as well as we knew Harley. So both Jimmy and I were going back and forth on that question… like, do we do the movie? Or do we do the comics? How are we doing to do this?
So we sort of met somewhere in the middle, I guess, and just tried to make them our own but make them feel true to their origins at the same time.
Palmiotti: Yeah, they’re definitely - every time you have a character with a lot of history, you try to find what it is about the character that makes them unique in their own character.
So with Canary and Huntress and Montoya - we kind of said, "OK, this is what we know about who they are, what they do in Gotham, and then let’s throw in the wildcard," which is Harley, into their lives and see how they react.
Conner: And Cassandra too. She definitely is a wildcard also.
Palmiotti: Yes, absolutely.
So in the first issue, we just see a tease of them, and we get to the introduction. And then we’ll see them a lot, obviously, through the rest of the book. We interact with them.
So we tried to just get the core of the characters.
It’s funny, because online, people were saying, is it this Huntress? Is it Paul Levitz’s Huntress? Or is it this person’s Huntress? And I just said, it’s Huntress. It’s just everybody’s version mixed into one.
‘Cause a lot of times with the comics, if you have too much history or too much of one thing, it alienates another audience, you know? It alienates new readers or it alienates the people who like this version. So it’s up to us to find the one that we think works with the story and go with it.
The internet’s great. They can yell at us all they want for the next couple months if they don’t like anything. We’re OK with that. You know?
Nrama: Then to finish up, do you want to offer an teases about what fans of your run on Harley Quinn might recognize in this series? Or any other surprises you have?
Conner: We do have some of the characters from Brooklyn. You’ll see them in the book.
You will see a character that we always manage to go back to, whenever we have the chance, just because we’re really attached to her. We’ll see Atlee.
Palmiotti: And Power Girl.
Conner: And Power Girl. Yes.
Palmiotti: And Ivy. And we’ll see Batman’s rogues gallery, mostly in the third issue. We’re going to obviously see the Joker getting terrorized by Harley for a bit. And we’re going to see Harley Sinn, who we just call Sinn right now, makes an appearance.
So we do have a lot of stars and things that make sense to the story coming in the second, third and last issue. And the last issue is like the who’s who of madness.
It’s one of those stories that is organic, meaning we have an outline that we’re following, but whenever we write Harley, sometimes she takes us in another direction. And it shows in the book. There’s an unpredictability factor. Something we like to keep in the book is that you never know where it’s going to go, and that’s because we have no idea where it’s going half the time.