A brief overview to this innovative and charming webtoon that starred Harley!

Gotham Girls was a flash animated webtoon that aired on its specially created website from 2000 ? 2002.

It ran for three seasons of ten episodes each and starred everyone?s favourite costumed divas: Batgirl, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and ? of course ? Harley!!

In the whole three seasons, none of the major male characters appeared ? this show was strictly for the girls and the girls ruled supreme!

Written by one of the only female writers to have worked on the animated series, Hilary J Bader, this webtoon was full of sassy, sexy, silly hijinks and adventures that were utterly charming and delightful. Packed full of all the attitude, cuteness and deviousness of Gotham?s greatest girls, the toon told stories full of sly wit, double entendres, satire and, of course, friendship.

Naturally, Harley and Ivy were frequently teamed up and now and then they even reluctantly teamed up with Catwoman for a few shenanigans. Of course, Batgirl was kept busy trying to keep these wild dames under control ? but a couple of times was called upon to form an uneasy truce with the villainesses for one reason or another.

The show incorporated a lot of film noir elements in its storytelling, and with the highly stylised nature of the flash animation, resulted in a very stylish and atmospheric series of stories, as simply animated as they were. Whilst some of the animation was a bit dodgy, the look of the girls at times was so wonderfully cartoonish and evocative that it more than made up for it.

Each toon was only two-three minutes long and a whole mini-story was packed into that time, with the exception of season three, when the show became an ongoing serial, each episode tying into the next to ultimately result in a thirty minute long mystery. The whodunit was more serious in tone, with subtle commentary on varying themes, but remained cute and charming in keeping with the rest of the show.

The earlier comedic episodes were delightful, particularly those in which our girl Harley featured (of course). Bader made sure to insert a lot of sly innuendo, particularly concerning Harley?s relationship with Joker.  Throughout the show some outrightly kinky stuff appeared that I still boggle to think passed the censors! I guess they had more freedom with the webtoon. Moments that make me laugh out loud in particular:
  • When Ivy gifts Harley with a lifesize Joker doll from a company called ?Real Villains? (an obvious parody of Real Girls)
  • When Harley is transformed into a baby when they?re on a jewel heist at a wax museum and comes across a model of the Joker. She crawls all over him crying for attention and when the wax figure doesn?t respond, becomes angry and upset. Ivy explains it away to shocked onlookers as ?father issues?. OMG! Thank you, Hilary!
  • When Harley begins her own ?girl scouts? troop with her own brand of cookies ? her own favourite being the ?Puddin?? ones!
  • What I also liked about this is that while Joker never once appears in the show and Harley is doing her own thing without him, her obsession with him is a clear yet subtle thread throughout the episodes. It was really deftly done.

I really love Harley?s overt whackiness, screwball antics and cutesy goofball behaviour during this show. I think it?s hilarious and sweet but ? I also think it was overdone just a bit. The characterisation would?ve benefited from a few more moments of Harley?s sly cunning, her conscious manipulation of her bimbo demeanour and her smarts. We did see glimpses of it now and then but not enough to do Harley full justice. This would be my key criticism of Bader?s characterisation of Harley in general ? often times, in her hands and compared to Ivy and other female characters, Harley seems to be treated only as stupid. Yeah she?s a goofball and has naivety, but she?s also smart and cunning.  It can get a bit frustrating for a Harley fan when after a while it seems like she?s being treated as nothing more than comedic relief specifically through acts of ?stupidity?. You should get a lot of laughs out of Harley, but not simply through her being stupid, because she isn?t.
But that would pretty much be my only major crit of this show. By and large I simply love it and Harley has moments that are absolutely beautiful and classic and funny in a way that only Harley can be.

I thought all of the voicework in this show was outstanding, but Arleen Sorkin in particular outdid herself. The inflection and emotion she gives Harley?s dialogue in this series is precious and perfect. It conveys so much and is simply a magnificent comedic performance when taken as a whole.

On the whole, this show is an indispensable aspect of Harley?s career and it?s fantastic to see a series focused wholly on the girls.

You can still download it free of charge from the Gotham Girls website. All three seasons were also placed on the recently released Birds of Prey DVD as well.