Batman Adventures #12 is the first appearance in comics of Harley Quinn. She actually debuted on the Batman Adventures animated series. The episode was “Joker’s Favor”, first airing on September 11, 1992. It was about a year later she showed up in a comic book, and that issue now sells for hundreds of dollars. She didn’t actually enter the DC Universe for another seven years, but we’re not talking about that comic, because this all about holy grails, and that holy grail is the first time Harley Quinn showed up in print.
The comic itself is very simple, and from a period when comic books were being printed in very high numbers, but actual print runs for individual issues are hard to come by, due to newsstand distribution and multiple distributors. However, we can see how many issues have been graded by CGC through their census. It is possible that comics have been graded more than once, but it is unlikely, as opening a slabbed comic is something that most CGC collectors just don’t do. As of the writing of this article, 2221 copies of Batman Adventures #12 have been graded by CGC, from 2.5 to 9.8. Grades under 9.4 don’t significantly affect the listed value, but can fetch significantly more than ungraded copies.
Most recently on eBay, a graded 9.8 has gone for $1,800. 9.6 Graded copies sold for around $850. These prices are under what is listed in price guides, but with the character slated to star in a major motion picture this year, speculation is very high on this issue. Also expect to not find these kind of prices at conventions, although surprises may happen, and you may be able to negotiate a cheaper price that what a dealer is asking.
Now that we’ve talked about the current significance of this comic, let’s get to the review.
Writer: Kelley Puckett
Penciller: Mike Parobek
Inker: Rick Burchett
Colorist: Rick Taylor
Batman is out of town and Commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara is enthralled with him. He lectures her on the danger Batman faces every night and envying him is not something anyone should do. Unknown to him, Barabra has a special costume prepared for a party, Batgirl.
When she arrives at the party, Batgirl looks for her friend throwing the party, not realizing that two shadowy figures are out to kidnap her. She’s shooed away from the back rooms of the party by a security guard who is then felled by a baseball bat to the head, wielded by Joker’s partner in crime, Harley Quinn. However, here she is teaming up with Poison Ivy. She attacks Batgirl,who dodges her blows and grabs her bat. Harley tries a head butt which she’s the worse for, temporarily falling unconscious. Batgirl takes advantage to slip past Ivy by throwing a potted plant, which Ivy jumps to prevent from crashing. Batgirl looks herself in the room where Harley and Ivy were holding a bound and gagged Sandy and untie her, not revealing that she’s her friend Barbara.
They escape out a back door and while Sandy is complimenting Batgirl, they run into Harley Quinn whose first shot takes out one of Batgirl’s costume’s ears. Before she can take a second shot, Harley is struck from behind by a security guard. Two other security guards capture Sandy and knock Batgirl unconscious. She wakes up to find that her, Sandy, Harley and Ivy are all captives of Catwoman!
Catwoman is there to drill through the ceiling to the floor above where a valuable diamond is on display. As Catwoman makes her getaway, Batgirl has Poison Ivy use one of her darts to cut her ropes. She then uses the dart to break the glass upstairs, setting off the alarm. Catwoman send s all of her henchmen to delay the cops downstairs (and get arrested)while she gets away. On the roof, Batgirl snatches the diamond away, but drops it off the roof, and warns Catwoman that if she tries to attack her, she’ll be caught by the police. Catwoman leaves, threatening to remember this insult, while Batgirl looks down at the diamond safely on a fire escape just below the edge of the roof.
Barabara Gordon finds her dad downstairs and assures him that she was nowhere near the action. He asks about her costume, but Barbara has thrown it in the trash to avoid revealing to her father that she was Batgirl.
The story is extremely simple, but it was aimed at a younger audience. At this point, Batgirl’s inclusion in the animated series was not yet established, but planned. Harley Quinn had showed up, and their partnership had been established. The two would go on to be a very popular duo in both the animated series and its comic book adaptations, before they went on to be established as a duo in the mainstream comics universe. They don’t quite mesh as well together here, almost getting in each other’s way. Their fate in the story is uncertain, but I would assume that they escaped through similar means and got away before the police arrived. Since it’s unclear, its a flaw in the story, but does nothing to take the focus away from the real star of the story, Batgirl.
I loved Mike Parobek’s work, and fans of it should seek it out. It’s not at it’s best here, but some of that may be more to Rick Burchett’s inking. Harley Quinn looks a little off from what we’ve come to expect, due to the red domino mask. There are panels that look absolutely gorgeous, but there are some that lack something. Perhaps it’s the memory of the animated series being so much darker, and there just seems to be a lack of ink in some of these panels. It’s still a great book visually, just nothing to make it jump out.
This issue has been collected. Just see the first link below. It is also available digitally, so that is a plus as well, since buying a copy will set you back significantly.
FINAL RATING: 7.5 (out of 10)
It’s very simple, but fun. definitely worth reading digitally or in a collection.