‘Harley Quinn’ Honors As Much As It Mocks

by Frank Martin

The fun thing about the Harley Quinn animated series is that it pays tribute to the DC mythology while also mocking it relentlessly. It has done this with countless villains as well as the entire Batman family of heroes. And in one of the recent episodes, it turns its jokes towards a fairly recent addition to Batman’s world: the Court of Owls. The Court fits into the story as it is a suspect in kidnapping Poison Ivy’s (Lake Bell) god-like plant, Frank (JB Smoove), that is the key to her plan. That storyline doesn’t necessarily move forward all that much, but the Court’s inclusion, and seeing Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Ivy’s still tenuous relationship work out its kinks, makes for a fun episode.

When they were first introduced, the Court was supposed to be a mysterious and powerful organization that has been behind the scenes of Gotham’s inner workings for centuries. They’ve been working in the shadows so successfully that not even Batman knew they existed. This dynamic was played to great effect in the comics, but when the Court’s first live-action adaptation came in the Fox show Gotham, their power and influence didn’t necessarily translate so well.

Enter Harley Quinn. The Court of Owls is a secret society, so the only way to properly mock them is to turn them into the most buffoonish version of itself that a secret society can become, which is to say a sex cult. The idea of this all-powerful and brooding organization of old people just getting down and freaky is quite hilarious and an excellent commentary on what a ridiculous comic adaptation can be. Once again, Harley Quinn proves that it could both honor its source material while ripping it apart at the same time. It’s a very tricky genre that fans can turn against in an instant, but so far, the show is on its game.

Harley Quinn streams Thursdays on HBO Max.

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