Warning: spoilers for Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #2!
When one thinks of Harley Quinn, a few props spring to mind. A giant mallet, a red and black costume, and her beloved pair of spotted hyenas. Named after the comedy duo Abbott and Costello, Bud and Lou are Harley’s babies, a gift to herself when she first became a solo act. But in the Batman: White Knight reality, aka the Murphyverse, Harley received her iconic hyenas as a gift from her boyfriend, Jack Napier.
In the regular DC continuity, Harley’s hyenas act as a metaphor for her personal agency and freedom from Joker. After her successful introduction in Batman: The Animated Series, the former Dr. Harleen Quinzel transitioned over to the DC Comics Universe as Joker’s on-again/off-again girlfriend, eventually earning her own series in 2001. In that series, Harley decides to break away from the Joker and go solo, forming her own gang and eventually leaving Gotham for Metropolis with her friend (and later lover) Poison Ivy. In Harley Quinn #4, Harley and her gang of Quinnets go to Gotham City Zoo to liberate a pair of spotted hyenas who she affectionately names and takes care of throughout the years as her pets. Although it appeared that she had to kill them during 2012’s “Death of the Family” when the Joker infected them with rabies and sicced them on her, they later appeared to have survived the ordeal and recovered to be at Harley’s side once again.
In the Batman: White Knight spinoff series focused on Harley, Harleen is struggling to adjust to life as a single mother raising twins. With the Joker dead and Batman in prison, her hyenas are an intimidating source of encouragement and love as Harley is pulled back into the world of costumes and secrets when her expertise is requested to help with an unusual murder investigation. As the clues point toward the Neo-Joker being responsible, Harley puts on her old Harlequin costume and takes her pets for a walk on the wild side. After confronting the Neo-Joker at their old hideout at an abandoned amusement park, Harley’s memories of better days show this being where she first saw her future babies on a date with Jack.
What’s amusing about this change in the hyena’s origin stories is that it essentially ended up with the same result. In the DC universe, the hyenas were among the first crimes Harley committed as a solo criminal, a wacky and lovable source of affection right out of a cartoon. In the Murphyverse, Jack believes Harley is dead serious in her desire to own and train hyenas and later purchases two as an early graduation gift for the future doctor. The first is a symbol of love for herself, and the second is a symbol of Jack’s love for her. As this version of Harley sees Jack and Joker as different people, Bud and Lou remain a reminder of better times – the same symbol of love and strength that they are in normal DC continuity, albeit from an external source.
As Harley works to understand and anticipate a new serial killer’s motives and save their future victims, she worries about failing as a mother. Harley Quinn may have a tragic past and unorthodox methods to parenthood but one thing is clear; if she loves and cares for her children Jackie and Bryce as much as she does Bud and Lou, she’s got nothing to worry about.
Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #2 by Sean Murphy, Katana Collins and Matteo Scalera is in stores now!