With Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) set to release next February, we'll be seeing a lot more of Harley Quinn sooner rather than later. The film will follow the eponymous Birds of Prey team, featuring Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya, as they team up with Harley to save Cassandra Cain from Black Mask. It will be Harley's first appearance in the DCEU since 2016's Suicide Squad.
Harley got her beginning in Batman: The Animated Series, and has been appearing in DC Comics since 1993. Here are 10 Harley Quinn stories to read before Birds of Prey hits theaters next year.
10 THE BATMAN ADVENTURES: MAD LOVE
Mad Love is the quintessential Harley Quinn comic and her first origin story. Written by Paul Dini, it details her change from psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel to supervillain Harley Quinn - alongside the development of her tumultuous and abusive relationship with the Joker.
We've already seen from Suicide Squad that the DCEU's version of Harley Quinn has a very similar origin, and with Birds of Prey expected to feature Harley and the Joker breaking up, it's likely that the unhealthy relationship dynamic seen in Mad Love will be present in this film.
9 SUICIDE SQUAD #7 (THE NEW 52)
When DC Comics rebooted to the New 52, Harley got a new origin story. Though still a psychiatrist who fell in love with the Joker, this version of Harley got her white skin and maniacal personality when the Joker pushed her into a vat of acid at Ace Chemicals.
As with Mad Love, Suicide Squad also took inspiration from this comic, written by Adam Glass, for Harley's DCEU origin. Though in the film Harley went willingly into the acid, we still saw Harley's dangerous obsession with the Joker and his total manipulation of her in the scene. With Harley getting her 'fantabulous emancipation' in Birds of Prey, it's hard not to expect the film will draw on more negative depictions of their relationship.
8 HARLEY QUINN VOL 1 #1
The first issue of Harley's first solo series—written by Karl Kesel—again establishes the abusive nature of Harley and Joker's relationship, with a plot that showcases Harley's intelligence and close friendship with Poison Ivy.
The series as a whole also deepens Harley's characterization in the comics and gives us our first look at her breaking out on her own, as she'll probably be doing in Birds of Prey.
7 BATMAN: HARLEY AND IVY
One of Harley Quinn's central relationships in both the comics and The Animated Series is with Poison Ivy. This collection of stories penned by Paul Dini showcases their friendship and their eccentric escapades—and touches on Harley and the Joker's relationship, particularly how Harley copes without him in her life.
Though Poison Ivy has not appeared in the DCEU so far, there's no reason why Harley can't find the kind of love and support she receives from Ivy throughout the comics from any of the female characters set to appear in Birds of Prey, especially as she attempts to move on from the Joker's toxic influence.
6 HARLEY QUINN #25
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's run on Harley's solo title brought her away from the Joker and saw her establish herself as an independent character and antihero. With the rumor that Birds of Prey will feature a roller derby scene, it's possible that the film will be taking inspiration from this version of Harley.
In issue 25, Harley resists the Joker's attempts to drag her back into their toxic relationship. Their encounter ends in violence, and with Harley finished with the Joker for good. Though the set pictures appear to show the Joker kicking Harley out, from the extended title it's easy to guess that Harley will eventually find the same kind of empowerment in Birds of Prey that she finds in this comic.
5 DETECTIVE COMICS #831
In this comic, written by Paul Dini, Harley attempts to get parole and leave Arkham Asylum—but Bruce Wayne's vote against her keeps her locked up. We see Harley trying to earn her redemption throughout the comic, even resisting an attempt to break her out.
Suicide Squad hinted at Harley becoming an antihero, and considering she'll team up with the titular team in Birds of Prey, it's possible that we'll be seeing Harley attempting to leave behind her villainous past in the DCEU, too.
4 GOTHAM CITY SIRENS
Starring Harley, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy, Paul Dini's series depict three of Gotham's major supervillains living together and forging a strong friendship. Though the Gotham City Sirens film has apparently been delayed, if Catwoman and Poison Ivy do appear in the DCEU, it's hard to imagine their relationship with Harley will be left out.
The final arc of this series deals with Harley trying and failing to move on from the Joker, as well as her capacity for good - both of which are likely to be major themes of Birds of Prey.
3 BATGIRL ADVENTURES #1
Another Paul Dini story that features Harley and Poison Ivy's friendship, this comic also has Harley teaming up with one of the good guys: Batgirl. Though Barbara Gordon won't be appearing in Birds of Prey, this film will feature another Batgirl in the form of Cassandra Cain.
Set pictures already show Harley and Cassandra spending time together, so it's possible that we'll see them join forces—or even form an unlikely friendship.
2 INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR 2 #7
This comic, written by Tom Taylor, sees Harley Quinn face off against Black Canary. What's most interesting about this issue isn't the fighting, though, but rather Harley's reaction to discovering Black Canary's pregnancy. Through this, we see a softer side to Harley—and a heartbreaking revelation about her past and her relationship with the Joker.
Though the Injustice series is outside of the main continuity, this comic gives a great insight into both characters—and what their relationship could be like onscreen.
1 BATMAN: HARLEY QUINN
Written by Paul Dini, Batman: Harley Quinn was Harley's first appearance in the main DC Comics continuity. It covers Harley's origin story and introduces her to Poison Ivy, establishing Harley's immunity to toxins.
The iconic cover art was briefly recreated in Suicide Squad, reaffirming how important this story is to Harley's history as a character. Though much of the themes of this story are also covered in the other entries on this list, that this comic is Harley's first appearance outside of The Animated Series continuity makes it essential reading.