Since the seventh episode of Batman The Animated Series in 1992 Harley Quinn became a surprise hit and quickly became a fan-favorite character. Originally created to simply be a supporting character as Joker’s sidekick Harley continued on to games like Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. Her outfit continuously changed to be more suggestive and she eventually turned into a fully sexualized character in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad played by bombshell Margot Robbie. But somewhere between all this mess she was in a comic book to support the original animated series. So what was the first appearance of Harley Quinn in comics?
It took place in The Batman Adventures issue 12. The story starts off with Barbara Gordon talking to her dad about her going to a costume party. The party is for Sandy Vanocouer, who is about to be kidnapped by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Her father runs Vanocouer Corporation, a company that destroys trees or something, I dunno. The pair’s intricate plan consists of kidnapping her and making her father pay the ransom. How original. Page 4 is where we see the first appearance of Harley Quinn in comics. It is simply a silhouette but we all know who she is. In the foreground we can see Poison Ivy’s hand. I suppose if you were not familiar with the television show this panel would be a mysterious introduction before we finally see the faces of our villains on page 7.
Barbara Gordon shows up to the party in her Batgirl costume, but with no intention of actually be a hero, until she finds Sandy tied up in a back room. Barbara manages to free Sandy and escape both Harley and Poison Ivy. But it turns out that the party’s security guards were hired by Catwoman. She had a completely different plan that was unrelated to the rest of the story. Apparently the floor above had a gigantic diamond and she wanted to cut a hole through the ceiling to get to it. Sandy, Barbara, Harley and Ivy are tied up but Barbara manages to escape and set off the security alarm. After the diamond is stolen Barbara steals it back from Catwoman. Commissioner Gordon arrives on the scene and the story ends. Despite this being the first appearance of Harley Quinn in comics, we don’t actually get to see the outcome of what happens to her. She seems to remain tied up with no explanation.
The Batman Adventures issue 12 is a fun little read (Affiliate Link), easy for a child to follow. The plot is awfully shallow, as if someone thought of it while sitting on the toilet. It’s the kind of story where you can figure out what’s going on even if you’re illiterate, because the pictures explain everything you need to know. Artist Mike Parobeck makes all the women look especially luscious in this comic. It has Batgirl, Harley, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. All of them wear skin-tight clothes that are practically painted on. So what do you think of Harley Quinn’s first appearance in comics? Leave a comment below.