Gotham City Sirens was a monthly comic-book series published by DC Comics co-starring Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, three characters who had previously recurred throughout the DC universe, primarily as foes / allies / love-interests of Batman. Their portrayals have varied widely over the years, ranging from terrorists to just shy of The Hero, and their current portrayal is right on the Anti-Villain / Anti-Hero line. None of them have completely foresworn their extra-legal activities, but neither have they become a trio of Villain Protagonists, either. The series lasted 26 issues (August, 2009-September, 2011).
Though not quite a Slice of Life (the series remains an Action/Adventure story about costumed stars battling other costumed individuals) the premise is that the characters have not united for any form of Evil Scheme or plot, but rather have decided to be a team simply for the sake of being with people they are on friendly terms with. Previous events in other comics that are alluded to in the very beginning mean that the characters have no shortage of money, so they have no immediate impetus to commit crimes, and the first arc of the series revolves around when they themselves are attacked by other criminals, instigated when Harley is out shopping.
Though easily understandable to the newcomer, the first issues of the series refer heavily to recent events in the history of the Bat-Family of comics, notably the Hush storylines and the Death Of Batman and Battle For The Cowl arcs. These events set up the premise for Gotham City Sirens, explaining the supposedly-legal funds the characters have, their motivations when interacting with each other, and the rationale for their cooperation.
The series is light-hearted while remembering that it is also supposed to be dramatic, and does not forget who its three characters are and what they can do. They might be new roommates dealing with personality conflicts, but they are also experienced and competent supervillains, and since none of them have secret identities, they frequently bring that part of their lives into their "normal" lives, such as when they hire a member of villainous team specializing in heavy equipment to help repair their apartment. They will then go off to dramatically rescue their kidnapped teammate who is being held hostage by a psychotic villain with a clown motif... no, not that clown-themed villain, but it will take a few issues for you to realize it. So far it has managed to be both intense and funny, and even though it might not have completely revolutionized the entire world of comics in its first ten issues, it has introduced well-written (and beautifully drawn) stories about intriguing characters in amusing situations.
And yes, since you are all thinking it, there is enough Fanservice, Most Common Superpower, and Distracted by the Sexy to go around. It is a series starring three of the hottest women in the DCU, so what did you expect?
Written by Paul Dini, writer for many series in the DC Animated Universe and creator of Harley Quinn.
The series, like every other in The DCU, was cancelled with the end of Flashpoint, with the three regulars going their separate ways. Catwoman will debut in a new solo book, Poison Ivy will join the Birds of Prey, and Harley Quinn will become a member of the new Suicide Squad.
For what pretty much amounts to their heroic counterpart, see Birds of Prey.
Gotham City Sirens provides examples of:
- Absolute Cleavage: Both Ivy and Catwoman have outfits that show this, Catwoman's whenever she unzips her Spy Catsuit.
- Action Girl: These three women can individually mess you up, and what they can do to you as a team does not bear thinking upon...
- Aesop Amnesia: Impressively, Harley manages to forget her lesson on the same page. When she sees just how pathetic Gaggy is and finally realizes that she is no better, that she might actually be worse, she resolves to no longer carry a torch for the Joker, since she is just fooling herself and she knows that he does not really care for her, and he will never become the man she wants him to be... of course, he still might change... Promptly Lampshaded by everyone present, including Jenna, who just met her.
- All Take and No Give: The Sirens' relationship with the Riddler. They don't see what his problem is.
- Amazon Brigade: With three members, and maybe a few more adding to the ranks as the series progresses, they are past Lovely Angels and are ready to start duking it out with teams stupid enough to challenge them.
- Art Shift: The artwork gets gradually more simplistic and rough as Harley's memories flash before her eyes as the Joker gets her wrapped around his finger... again.
- Badass Crew: It is a team of villains who have individually stood up to the Batman on multiple occasions. What they will do as a group should have the Legion of Doom shaking in their boots.
- Bad Girl Comic: A series about three sexy Anti-Villain women with extremely fanservice-oriented art.
- Bat Family Crossover: Issue #22 takes place during Judgment on Gotham, a Gotham-wide crossover that also occurs in the Batman and Red Robin series as Azrael tests the champions of Gotham City under the threat of its destruction. Selina is asked to sacrifice her sister to God in order to pass her test, but she refuses and is deemed a failure.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Harley, Catwoman, Ivy (respectively).
- Bound and Gagged: A frequently-used trope.
- Ivy uses her plants to gag Harley when she starts fawning over her memories of the Joker. At another point, she uses her vines to truss up and gag a nosy coworker who has discovered her secret identity.
- Issue #16 ends with Catwoman tied up and gagged by some kidnappers who want to find out Bruce's secret identity.
- Ivy attacks Zatanna as the magician is about to take a bath, binding her with her plants, shoving her into the tub and keeping her mouth submerged in water to keeping her from casting spells◊.
- Brutal Honesty: Harley asks the others to honestly tell her if she sounds as pathetic and needy as Gaggy. They answer "yes" without a second's hesitation, to her annoyance.
- Cassandra Truth: When Catwoman is telling Ivy and Harley about all the different people to wear the Bat cowl (see Legacy Character below) she does mention Bruce Wayne as one of the participants. Harley flat-out refuses to believe her.
- Classy Catburglar: Catwoman picks your pocket with style and a skin-tight catsuit. Assuming she would ever lower herself to the level of simple petty theft.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Harley.
- Continuity Nod: To the Joker's transformation from the Laughably Evil Clown Prince of Crime to the Serial Killer Jester of Genocide he is today, explained as a psychotic break while in prison.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: They might not have patented any technologies themselves, but the series starts with all three characters in possession of enough money to carry them for quite a while, so they really do not have any financial motivation to commit crimes.
- The Cutie: Harley.
- Damsel in Distress:
- The first issue opens with Catwoman thinking about how her heart was healed and even restored with a magic elixir, but she still feels weak. A few pages later she is rescued by Ivy from a D-list thug, and they both Lampshade how troubling it is to see her having such a tough time with such a lowlife. Zatanna thinks it is partly psychosomatic due to the trauma she went through in Hush, and this is one reason Catwoman, Harley and Ivy decide to team up.
- Issue #16 ends with Catwoman being kidnapped by some villains who want to pry Batman's secret identity from her mind.
- Dark Action Girl: They might be the protagonists of the series, and they are generally nice people (well, Harley is pretty nice, anyway), but do not make the mistake of thinking these women are anything but just-this-side of opening you up with a knife.
- A Day in the Limelight: Issue 3 is entirely The Riddler's show.
- Demonic Possession: Maggie Kyle, Catwoman's sister, will do whatever she has to in order to free Selina from the Cat-Demon which has possessed her. Unfortunately, this simple delusion brought on by mental illness has been horribly exacerbated by a demon/angel now living within Maggie herself.
- Dysfunctional Family: We are finally given some insight into what made Harley Quinn the woman she is today. It turns out her father was a con-artist who abandoned his family in numerous schemes to cheat older women out of their fortunes (and he is now in jail), her brother is a deadbeat with multiple kids from different women and no job, and her mother might (might, it is not conclusive) have Manic/Depressive Bi-Polar Disorder, as her few scenes showed her swinging wildly between different moods when Harley popped in for a Christmas celebration and wants Harley to get a real job instead of "the superhero crap". It turns out one of the reasons Harleen Quinzel became a psychiatrist in the first place, which was the first step on her track to becoming Harley Quinn, was to try and make sense of the trauma her family put themselves and each other through.
- Dysfunction Junction: They all have their issues. Both internally and with each other.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- One recurring theme in the story is that all three have different standards, but the first issue opens with Ivy rescuing a weakened Catwoman from a thug and saying that while they have not always gotten along she can not stand to see Catwoman lose to the creep.
- After tying up her coworker in a scene mentioned above, Ivy taunts the woman about how she plans to murder her, but then relents upon discovering that her hostage has a young daughter. Afterwards, she simply blackmails the woman into keeping her mouth shut.
- Fanservice: The characters are complex and the story is detailed, but that in no way means they can not slap painted-on clothing onto three gorgeous women. (Even a fill-in issue in which they don't appear falls prey to this.)
- Femme Fatale: Poison Ivy is not simply a Punny Name; that woman is poison.
- Girlish Pigtails: Harley
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Catwoman's status in this comic amongst Harley and Ivy. The latter two repeatedly tried to kill her in the past, with Harley torturing her at one point and Ivy subjecting her to Mind Rape. The fact the comic starts with Harley and Ivy capturing Selina and attempting to interrogate Batman's Secret Identity out of her should be a good indicator they did were not friendly with one another previously. In most stories in the aftermath of this series they're seldom not depicted as friends and allies.
- Home Sweet Home: For Christmas, while their home is being rebuilt, Ivy visits the Amazonian Rainforest, Catwoman shares a glass of champagne with Dick Grayson, and Harley spends an evening with her mother and brother, and even visits her father in jail (turns out he is a con-artist who abandoned her and her family, and one of the reasons she became a psychiatrist in the first place was to try and understand her family). In the end, despite the history they all have with these other places and people, they all return to their apartment and spend the holidays together. As Harley points out, "There's No Place Like Home."
- Human Plant Aliens: The secret behind S.T.A.R. Labs' reforestation research. Unfortunately, said alien is also the advance scout for an invasion, and he can control Ivy the way she controls human men...
- Jerkass Has a Point: Riddler refuses to help Catwoman and Ivy find Harley in issue #3 because 1.) Harley can take care of herself and 2.) the Sirens haven't been the best of "friends" to him (namely, Ivy brainwashing him for weeks to steal his apartment with Harley and Catwoman doing nothing to help him).
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Talia Al-Ghul arranges to have Zatanna erase Catwoman's memories of Bruce Wayne/Batman in order to ensure that she can never reveal his identity to any of Batman's many enemies. Zatanna, however, does not like being manipulated in such a way and refuses to go through with it. She does, however, offer Selina the option of erasing her memories of Bruce in order to give her the peace of mind and serenity that would come from not being entangled in such a complicated web of love, hate and conflict. Selina ultimately declines.
- Legacy Character: When Catwoman is being interrogated by Harley and Ivy over Batman's identity she lies and claims that Batman is a multi-person identity, with several people sharing the persona at the same time.note She also tells them not to get her started on the Robins, which is actually true.
- Lethal Joke Character: Harley Quinn
- Light Is Not Good: Mad nun Maggie Kyle and the angel(?) possessing her.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to most series set in Gotham, this one is much more heavy on the comedy, with tons of focus on deliberate Fanservice, Black Comedy, slapstick, downplaying of the villainous aspects of the main characters, and plenty of homages to The Silver Age of Comic Books. The "lighter" part is also played literally, as much of the series is set in the daytime, a rare sight in Gotham indeed.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: Harley's father is a charming, constantly-smiling, utterly untrustworthy con artist who makes women feel special so he can get close enough to rip them off.
- Lovely Angels: They might be just over the size limit, but it still fits.
- Mad Love: The Trope Namer is one of the main characters: Harley Quinn is simply madly in love with the Joker, and even when she sees what a pathetic wreck Gaggy has become, she still keeps pining away.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: The surgery itself occurs well before the start of Sirens, and in a different comic, but Hush is running around impersonating Bruce Wayne, and even Harley Quinn is duped into believing the facade... though considering it is Harley maybe that is not the best example.
- Male Gaze: The series includes a lot of low angled shots on characters, but male characters also get subjected to them on a regular basis.
- Manipulative Bastard: The storylines "Hell Hath No Fury" and "Friends" show that Harley can do this almost as well as The Joker can, using her background as a psychiatrist to find that one key vulnerability each of her opponents has, which she uses against a series of asylum staff and prisoners, before finally using it to get the drop on Poison IvyHarley: Is it because you love me?
- Monster Clown:
- He might not be the Joker, but Gaggy is still freaky.
- The Joker himself shows up near the end of the series run.
- Mugged for Disguise: The Sirens use this when they take on Doctor Aesop and his gang. Ivy wraps her vines around one henchwoman's mouth and drags her off into the shadows, Catwoman leaps out and chokes one with her whip, and Harley finishes off the remaining henchwoman with a blow to the head. The next time the Sirens are shown, they have dressed themselves up in the golden dresses the defeated henchwomen were previously seen wearing.
- Mythology Gag: Issue #13 has a brief glimpse of Poison Ivy in her Batman & Robin costume.
- No Ontological Inertia: Once Ivy kills the plant alien, his plants simply crumble away.
- Not So Different: A full-page frame in Issue #24, "Friends, Part Two" explicitly compares Joker and Harley's destructive relationship to Batman and Catwoman's relationship, showing both couples leaping into battle in a split-frame shot, with Harley and Catwoman doing the same pose across the split, and Batman and Joker mirrored on either side.
- The Reveal: After the Joker has spent several issues terrorizing the three stars and wreaking his revenge it is revealed that it is not the Joker at all, but Gaggy, his ex-sidekick who might even be more pathetically obsessed than Harley.
- Room Full of Crazy: Harley's cell at Arkham is covered in doodles of Mistah J.
- Slasher Smile: An imaginary one betrays Harley's sudden turn towards the more violent brand of insanity. She also gets one on #23's cover.
- There's No Place Like Home: The three main characters all spend Christmas apart by visiting people or places from their past (Ivy the rainforest, Catwoman with Dick Grayson and Harley with her family), but they all leave these other people and return to their apartment to spend the holidays together]], where Harley even explains that "there's no place like home."
- They Would Cut You Up: Catwoman expresses some fear over this happening to Ivy.
- Token Super: Poison Ivy serves as this possessing her trademark Green Thumb powers while Harley Quinn and Catwoman have no superpowers.
- True Companions: They might not quite be the poster group, but these women stick together through thick and thin, and if they will call anybody "family", it will be each other.
- Vapor Wear: No way in Hell is Catwoman wearing a bra under her Spy Catsuit.
- Villains Out Shopping: Quite literally, Harley is a woman who loves to blow through her cash. The first story arc begins when she gets spotted out shopping by
Bruce WayneHush, then the JokerGaggy, and she is kidnapped.
- Villainous Harlequin: Harleen Quinzel herself, of course, and Gaggy, the Joker's sidekick before Harley showed up.
- Villain Protagonist: Yes, the intro actually mentions that they are not villain protagonists, and the story is not about their crimes or evil careers, but the three of them are supervillains, all of them have killed in the past, and two of them are certifiably insane and have the paperwork to prove it. They might not be villains right now, but their history is still there.
- Villain Team-Up: Well, yeah.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Either
Bruce WayneHush can shoot Catwoman, Harley and Ivy in the back and claim it was self-defense, or he can take down the evil zeppelin filled with The Joker'sGaggy's goons and become a hero. He opts for the heroism.
- The Walls Are Closing In:Poison Ivy: Please tell me the walls aren't going to move together.Catwoman: The walls are moving together.Poison Ivy: Of course they are.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?:
Bruce WayneHush was originally planning to lure Harley Quinn to the top of a skyscraper, pull her into the shadows for "privacy", then casually tip her over the side and giggle when she ultimately went "splat". Then, when The JokerGaggy interrupted his plans, Hush decided it would be better to just pick up a Thompson submachine gun and shoot the lot of them. Of course, Hush ultimately switched his targets, but at least he did grab the gun (see Villain with Good Publicity above).
- Woman Scorned: From issue #19 to #21 (the arc is even titled "Hell Hath No Fury"), Harley is hell-bent on killing the Joker, to make him pay for all the times he hurt her and humiliated her. This promptly fails when she reaches his cell in Arkham: just one "I missed you" from his part reminds her how much she loves him, and she leaps into his arms.
- You Just Told Me: Harley's Dad almost tricks her into telling him where the money is using this trope. "Oh, the money's not in Switzerland, it's... Damn it, Pop, you were going to do it to me, weren't you?!"