Harper Row in costume as Bluebird, posing with her weapons. Art by Dustin Nguyen.
|First appearance||As an unnamed woman:|
Batman vol. 2, #1 (September 2011)
As Harper Row:
Batman vol. 2, #7 (March 2012)
Batman vol. 2, #28 (February 2014)
|Created by||Scott Snyder|
|Alter ego||Harper Row|
Bluebird (Harper Row) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. She is a supporting character of Batman. Harper Row was created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, first appearing in Batman vol. 2, #7 (March 2012), before debuting as Bluebird in Batman #28 (February 2014). Harper Row's Bluebird identity was designed by artist Dustin Nguyen. Within the fictional DC Universe, Harper Row officially joins Batman's group of allies during the events of Batman Eternal, a year-long weekly maxiseries.
Instead of taking on the mantle of Robin, which is traditionally that of Batman's sidekick, Harper Row instead adopts an entirely new superhero identity, Bluebird. Her appearance marks the arrival of the first new "Bat-family" character in Batman comics since DC relaunched its entire line in 2011 as part of its The New 52 publishing event.
Harper Row first appeared as an unnamed cameo in Batman vol. 2, #1 (September 2011). She later made her first full appearance in Batman vol. 2, #7 (March 2012), where it is noted that she and Batman have met before. Their previous encounter was detailed in Batman #12 (Oct. 2012), illustrated by Becky Cloonan; this issue marked the first time a female artist has worked on the Batman title. Harper Row next appeared in Detective Comics vol. 2, #21 (August 2013), the first time a writer other than Snyder has written her.
In Batman vol. 2, #28 (April 2014), a sneak peek into the future of Batman Eternal, Harper Row makes her debut as Batman's new sidekick Bluebird.
Scott Snyder reportedly based Bluebird on a design created by the daughter of prominent cosplayer Kyrax2. "Harper & Row" was also the name of the major American publishing firm Harper from 1962 to 1990.
Fictional character biography
In early issues featuring Harper Row, she is introduced as a streetwise young woman from the Narrows, one of the roughest neighborhoods in Batman's locale of Gotham City. She and her brother Cullen Row are also revealed to be from a broken family with a deceased mother and a deadbeat father who would later end up in jail. They were emancipated and she provides for the two of them by working on the city electrical grid. With such humble beginnings, Row did not seem naturally inclined to be a hero. In fact, she made her first appearance stealing food from a Wayne charity gala. However, her life changed when Batman saved her brother Cullen from being gay-bashed, although not before the bullies butchered Cullen's hair and carved a slur into it. She reacted by cutting her own in a similar manner (including the slur), creating her signature purple and blue undercut.
Batman's intervention left a lasting impression on the young woman. Harper began trying to learn more about Batman in order to assist him in his fight against crime in Gotham. She even managed to discover the devices Batman uses to disable the city's security cameras, named them bat boxes, and improved them with technology of her own design.
Her efforts only earned the Batman's ire; at one point he rewarded Harper's attempts at helping him by breaking her nose. The next day Harper visits Bruce Wayne at Wayne Tower and shows him plans that she thinks will help Batman. To her surprise, Bruce agrees. That night, Batman tracks Harper and apologizes to her. She tells him she may not know the details, but she knows he’s going through a lot of pain (the death of Damian Wayne). She also reminds Batman what he means to the city with a touching and personal story. The issue concludes with Harper’s message to Batman broadcast on Wayne Tower. It’s one simple word taught to Harper by her mother before her death: “RESOLVE", which just so happens to begin with the letter “R". Even saving Batman's life by pulling his unconscious body out of Gotham Bay and restarting his heart using only jumper cables and a car battery failed to win him over.
In Batman Eternal, Harper stows away on board Red Robin (Tim Drake)'s plane and, over the course of the series, gains his trust. In issue #41, she suits up as Bluebird for the first time in order to rescue her brother Cullen; Red Robin and his allies Batgirl and Red Hood are caught up in a trap, leaving it up to her. Despite setbacks in her relationship with Batman himself, a near-future flash forward shows that Row eventually manages to overcome Batman's reservations and joins him in fighting crime as Bluebird.
During Batman & Robin Eternal, it is revealed that Harper's mother was murdered by Cassandra Cain, who it is eventually revealed was acting as an agent of 'Mother', a villain who manipulates traumatised children on the grounds that she will make them stronger through trauma (although Cassandra had been sent to kill both of Harper's parents and only killed her mother before she found she couldn't do it). Even more shockingly, Mother had Harper's mother murdered as part of a plan to 'offer' Harper to Batman as the perfect Robin; Batman had made contact with her to try and expose her long-term agenda and believed that he was meant to kill the parents of the new Robin Mother had chosen for him, when actually he was just sent after two of Mother's other disciples as a test of his loyalty to her ideals while Harper's parents were attacked in Gotham. Despite recognising Harper's qualities would make her an ideal partner, at the time Batman simply forced her surviving father to take responsibility for his role as a parent as he didn't want to benefit from Mother's plan, never revealing the truth even after Harper began working with him as Bluebird. Mother attempts to win Harper to her point of view by arguing that her own family fell apart so that she had to rise up on her own, offering to let Harper kill Cassandra Cain after revealing that Cassandra was the one who killed her mother, but Harper rejects that idea, proclaiming that she grew up because her mother supported and recognised her desire for a better life rather than trying to make Harper be what her mother believed would work. Following Mother's defeat, Harper assures the returned Batman that she understands his reasons for not telling her about his history with Mother and his indirect role in her mother's death, but recent events have prompted her to go to college to receive official qualifications for her electrician skills and explore a life outside of the vigilante role, but Batman assures her as she leaves that Bluebird will always be welcome in Gotham if she decides to suit up again.
In the DC Rebirth relaunch, Harper is no longer functioning as Bluebird. She is mentioned to be living in Gotham and a friend of Orphan (Cassandra Cain). The latter is often said to sneak into the former's apartment, similar to what she does to Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. Later in "Detective Comics", she is shown volunteering at a clinic run by Leslie Thompkins, speaking to Stephanie Brown about the apparent death of Tim Drake. Stephanie wishes she would come back to the team but she says that chapter of her life is over and that her costume is locked away. She has discovered she can do more good volunteering than working as a superhero. She then attends a gala for the police, accompanied by Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Bruce Wayne, Kate Kane, and Basil Karlo, the newly reformed Clayface. That gala is attacked by Batman villains and the whole family goes into action to help, but Harper does not.
Later, in the clinic of Leslie Thompkins, she is shown looking for Stephanie, she says she's not good at making friends, and ends up revealing how worried she is about Stephanie. Her friend tells her to pray but she says "a blue haired bisexual girl isn't on the top of the prayer list" implying that she doesn't believe in God. The Batman victims from the gala then attack, and she calls Batman for help. Batman shows up to help and she helps evacuate the patients. While she does that, she texts Stephanie to make sure she's okay and asks to talk, and to get dinner. Cassandra drops in during her next volume, worried and Harper tries to get to the root of the problem before Cassandra leaves through her window.
In an alternate history version of World War II, Harper Row is a teenage auto mechanic who works at a garage with Kathy Duquesne and Nell Little. She is shown to be a massive fan of Batwoman. During Batwoman's absence in Gotham, Harper along with Kathy and Nell form a team of Batgirls to protect the city. The Batgirls, joined by Alysia Yeoh and Bette Kane get into the Pinkey Orphanage to save Harper's brother, Cullen, and the rest of the orphans, who have been used to work on robots for the devious plans of Headmistress Webb. They later welcome Tim Drake, Cullen Row and Felicity Smoak into the team, and creating a Bat family.
In other media
A teenage version of Harper Row appears in Young Justice: Outsiders, voiced by Zehra Fazal. She is introduced as a classmate of Halo and Forager, with the personality of a rebellious teenager and a loner. When Halo finds out she is dying, she starts hanging out with Harper more, and the two often engage in illegal activities together. At one point, Harper makes out with Halo, despite the fact that they both have boyfriends. Halo doesn't reciprocate, but she doesn’t stop her. They are arrested shortly after this for using firearms while intoxicated, with Harper spending a night in jail. It is later revealed that Harper and her younger brother Cullen regularly suffer abuse from their alcoholic father. They are eventually taken to child protective services by M'gann, who makes sure they stay together.
- Santori-Griffith, Matthew. "Interview: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Revisit Batman's ZERO YEAR". Comicosity. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Rogers, Vaneta (February 12, 2014). "Robin Is Dead, So Meet Batman's New Comic Book Sidekick". MTV.com News. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Zalben, Alex (February 12, 2014). "SCOTT SNYDER Talks BLUEBIRD, SPOILER & BATMAN's 'New Generation of Allies'". Newsarama. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Burlingame, Russ (February 12, 2014). "Batman, Meet Bluebird: Harper Row's Role Revealed in Today's Issue". Comicbook.com. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Johnston, Rich (August 8, 2012). "A History Of Harpers Row In Batman #12". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Nagorski, Alex (August 8, 2012). "Spotlight on BATMAN #12 Guest Artist Becky Cloonan". DC Comics. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Johnston, Rich (February 13, 2014). "How Scott Snyder Turned The Batgirl Of San Diego's Daughter Into DC's New Batman Superhero, Bluebird". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- Logsdon, Mike; Baumgartner, Scott (March 14, 2013). "Alternating Currents: Batman 18, Mikyzptlk and Scott". Retcon Punch. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- Batman Eternal #41 (March 2015)
- Batman & Robin Eternal #21
- Batman & Robin Eternal #25
- Batman & Robin Eternal #26
- Detective Comics #935
- Detective Comics #944
- DC Comics Bombshells #8
- DC Comics Bombshells #19
- DC Comics Bombshells #21
- Fazal, Zehra (2019-01-25). "TAIMUR, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I love playing two "Harpers," doing my best to catch up to @CrispinFreeman". @zehrafazal. Retrieved 2019-01-27.