After airing the season 1 finale just weeks ago, Harley Quinn is already back on DC Universe with its season 2 premiere. In the aftermath of the, literally, earth-shaking events of the last episode, Gotham City faces a problem Bat-fans are very familiar with. Yes, it appears that Harley Quinn will give us yet another retelling of the classic “No Man’s Land” storyline. However, instead of feeling like a needless retread the Harley Quinn season 2 premiere might finally deliver a version of this story that both makes sense and fits into the world they’ve established.
As mentioned in our review of the Harley Quinn series premiere, this is a unique take on the world of DC heroes and villains. It’s ultra-violent yet cartoonish, vulgar yet almost childlike, and features simplistic characters that still have shining moments of depth. It’s a good show that fans of superhero stories and those tired of superhero stories can both enjoy. Just like last time, this premiere can leave you somewhat uncertain about how to feel about the show. Yet, if the quality of this season matches the last, it will be can’t-miss television.
The rest of our review of the Harley Quinn season 2 premiere will feature spoilers. If you’ve not seen it and want to stay unspoiled, bookmark here and return when you have. Trust me, you’ll have some feelings to work out. Especially if you are as conflicted about the “No Man’s Land” story as I am.
What Is “No Man’s Land?”
Image via DC
The first iteration of this storyline came in the late 1990s as a mega-event in all of the many Bat-titles in publication at the time. Robin, Catwoman, Nightwing, and Azrael all had monthly titles. There were also one-shots starring Young Justice, Harley Quinn, and the Bat himself. Essentially, Gotham is hit first by a plague and then by a huge earthquake that nearly levels the city. The United States government officially disowns Gotham, making it “no man’s land.” Without any authority, the regular characters in the Bat books break into gangs and fight to take the city back. Batman is missing for a time, but then comes back and saves everyone.
This storyline has since been adapted a number of times in different media. It was an inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. The final season of Gotham also adapted the No Man’s Land storyline. It was also pitched to Warner Bros. animation by James Tucker as both a traditional and CG animated series. It’s a good story featuring interesting emotional moments for all the characters involved. It also makes no damn sense.
In a world with hundreds of superheroes, there is no way that Gotham City, the home of one of the most revered heroes in the multiverse, would be left to this fate. The mechanics of the US abandoning Gotham also defies belief. With some comic book logic, readers can accept it all and let the story be what it is. Yet, it’s not the greatest Batman story ever told, and the fascination with it does Bat-adaptations no favors. Yesterday, I’d have said we didn’t need another No Man’s Land story. But Harley Quinn may be just the place for it.
Why the Harley Quinn Season 2 Premiere Offers the Best Version of ‘No Man’s Land’
Image via DC Universe
So, even though “No Man’s Land” makes no sense, Harley Quinn is the perfect place to see it play out. Quinn is in a unique place in that she’s not a hero but not a full-on villain either. So, the storytellers have to pit her against other DC villains, which works great. Unlike most anti-heroes, she doesn’t do bad things thinking she’s good, she does good things while still committing to villainy. So, the premiere’s “No Man’s Land” fits perfectly with her worldview. She’s an anarchist and living in a lawless wasteland feels like her dream. The Justice League is gone, Batman is presumed dead, and this version of Jim Gordon (voiced by Christopher Meloni at his manic best) is a joke.
The anything-goes nature of this world also helps sell the idea. I mean, the Legion of Doom had a giant headquarters in the center of Gotham City, and no one did anything about them. This world is nuts, and so the lunatic premise of “No Man’s Land” fits here better than any other version of the story.
Also, as evidenced by the premiere, Harley Quinn will kill all the villains that screw with her. She graphically murders Penguin in the first episode, and it appears that Riddler, Two-Face, and the rest of them might be next. They even figured out a good reason to remove Batman from the equation, putting him in a coma rather than just “gathering resources” or whatever rationale he gives in the comics. Season 2 of Harley Quinn seems like it will push the boundaries of how much tragedy and comedy can fit in a half-hour.
Harley Quinn debuts on Fridays on DC Universe.
What did you think of the Harley Quinn season 2 premiere? Are you getting tired of seeing No Man’s Land adapted or is it a classic part of Batman lore? Tell us below!
Featured image via DC Universe
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.