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It's been more than a year since the Season 2 finale of Harley Quinn arrived, and we're still waiting for the third season of the acclaimed adult animated series to land on HBO Max. But you don't have to wait for the show to return to get more of Harley's cartoonish adventures, and we're not just talking about watching The Suicide Squad. This month, Harley and Ivy's power couple escapades have resumed in Harley Quinn: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour, and for writer Tee Franklin, it could not come at a better time.
"Their relationship is needed," Franklin told journalists at a press roundtable event to promote the book. "It is important to talk about, and I’m really grateful to be the one to tell this love story. There’s a lot of 'will-they-won’t-they' in the comics, and when they do, it’s just not as beautifully shown."
Written by Franklin (Bingo Love) and drawn by Max Sarin (Wicked Things), The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour picks up in the immediate aftermath of Harley Quinn's second season finale. Ivy's just been left at the altar by Kite Man and jumped into a car with Harley on the way out of Gotham City, confessing her feelings for her longtime best friend along the way. Harley, of course, feels the same way, and it seems like the two of them have the road trip of a lifetime ahead of them as they finally embrace their romance.
In the gallery below, you can get just a taste of what the moments following that romantic escape look like.
But it's not exactly the happy ending that it seems. There are a lot of issues for both women to sort through, and as they take a tour on the run through the show's animated universe, they'll both have to face their problems eventually.
"There's tons of emotions and trauma that was already touched on in the animated series, but I wanted to delve deeper and turn it up a notch, because both of these women have these traumatic experiences from men in their lives—Ivy’s dad; Harley’s parents, her man," Franklin explained. "Harley has been through a lot, as has Ivy. Even though Ivy really wasn’t [ready] to marry Kite Man, my girl still got left at the altar. I mean, I’m sure she’s grateful, but she’s also dealing with the hurt of, 'Damn, I hurt this guy who I really, really loved, and that’s on me, and I need to fix that.' So, she’s going to go through a bunch of emotions to try to handle this."
But of course, the problems aren't just internal. Harley and Ivy are fleeing Gotham, after all, and they're being pursued by none other than a power hungry Jim Gordon, still furious over his foiled plans at the end of the show's second season. Franklin teased that Gordon's own issues, and the way he wields them in his plot to capture Harley and Ivy, will also have a major role to play in the series.
"He’s doing too much. He’s actually being a Harley right now, doing some impetuous sh*t, not caring about all the stuff he’s leaving in his wake," she said. "In issue #2, we see a side of Gordon that has not been explored in the show, but ultimately Gordon wants to get back, have Gotham back in the United States. So, he’s going to do whatever he can, regardless of what and who he hurts, just to bring Harley to 'justice.' He really needs some counseling, but not from Dr. Harleen."
Much of the central tension at the beginning of The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour stems not just from Gordon's pursuit, but Ivy's own internal reckoning, as she balances her happiness with Harley with the sadness she feels from a broken relationship with Kite Man. It is, as Franklin teased, a key component of the series as it forms connective tissue between Season 2 and Season 3, and it means Harley has to have an internal reckoning of her own as she contends with what Ivy's thinking and feeling, much of which she can't see.
"Harley is getting in touch with Dr. Harleen again," Franklin teased. "She is on this journey of realizing that she can’t just magically fix Ivy. In the process, she learns some stuff about herself."
If you're a fan of the Harley Quinn animated series, The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour is going to deliver much of the same vibe, from the slapstick fight scenes to the jokes to the over-the-top versions of DC Comics characters ranging from Commissioner Gordon to Catwoman. Running through it all, though, is a bigger idea, something Franklin tied to her past experience as a victim of domestic violence.
In opening up about the importance of the series for her as a writer, Franklin touched on everything from the importance of representation for disabled characters throughout the book (Franklin herself is a wheelchair user) to being the first Black woman to write a Harley Quinn book to, of course, Harley overcoming her own past history of abuse. It's that journey, which takes Harley from her darkest encounters with The Joker to an outlaw road trip with Ivy, that forms the backbone of the book for Franklin.
"There’s love after being put down, abused, ridiculed, assaulted, all of that stuff. When you finally decide to break free, you have that time where you need to figure out how you can move on with your life, how you can find a little bit of joy. Because there’s no joy, right? It’s just darkness. And in those moments, you’re like, 'S**t, I should go back, because this is what I’m used to.' Being on your own after being with somebody, because it’s not just physical—it’s mental, emotional, and it’s financial. So, when you finally break free and you’re sitting home alone in your room with your thoughts, those thoughts can get really, really s****y. And you feel like you’re not worthy of love because that was beaten into you, you know? Like, 'Nobody wants you.' And you start to believe it. So, when you see Harley, even though, again, fictional character, she has been through every f***ing thing, but now she is free of this person, and she finds love and happiness. That is something that—I’m f***ing crying, oh my God. But it’s just really important."
Harley Quinn: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour #1 is in comic book stores Tuesday. The first two issues of the series are available to read digitally now on DC Universe Infinite.