Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Characters We Love: Harley Quinn

Characters We Love: Harley Quinn
Submitted by: Theresa Stier, Comic News Writer
2 August 2016


Suicide Squad comes out Thursday night and we cannot be more excited for this movie! There are many different DC characters in this movie, but one of my favorites has finally gotten her time on screen: Harley Quinn! Harley was first introduced to us through one of the best cartoons of all time, Batman: The Animated Series. Since her appearance,  Harley has been included  in DC comics and video games.

Before she became Harley Quinn, she was Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Harleen seems to be a normal college student. She does well in school, is a dedicated gymnast, and wants to become a psychiatrist. That all changes when she starts to work in Arkham Asylum, Gotham's famous home for the criminally insane. This is where she meets The Joker and she becomes interested in crazed criminals. The Joker recognizes this newly found interest and is able to manipulate her. She falls in love with him and breaks him out of Arkham. From that moment on, she devotes her life to making him happy and works with him to take over Gotham. She is willing to do anything for her “Puddin'”, even through all the abuse (both mental and physical) to which he subjects her. 

One of the more memorable comics that explores their relationship is "Mad Love," written by Paul Dini (This was also turned into an episode of The New Adventures of Batman). This one-shot comic takes the reader into Harley's life, where she met The Joker in Arkham Asylum, after she has been kicked out of their hideout by The Joker. At Arkham, interviews him, finding out that he was abused by his alcoholic father, and believes that Batman is the source of The Joker's anger. Remembering this, makes her believe that the only way that Mr. J could love her back is if she kills Batman....which she tries to until Batman distracts her by telling her that The Joker has been using her from the start and his childhood stories were lies. 

Harley insists that he's wrong, so Batman tells her to call him, so he can see her kill Batman. When he arrives, The Joker is anything but happy with Harley. He is angry that she would try to kill Batman herself and knocks her out the window. She is found by police and escorted off to Arkham Asylum. She is severely injured and wants to focus on getting better, so she can leave Arkham for good. She wants Mr. J out of her life.....but that changes when she finds out that he sent her flowers and a get well soon card.

Besides teaming up with The Joker, she's also seen with Poison Ivy in both the comics and the animated series. There are many series that cover the relationship between Harley and Ivy. However, in all of them, Ivy seems to be the only one that has Harley's back and is a friend to her. In some instances, Ivy takes Harley to her lair and injects her with a serum, which gives Harley immunity to various toxins.
The first time we see these two together in the animated series is in the episode, “Harley & Ivy”. The Joker throws Harley out of their hideout, after saying that she might be a better crook than him. From there, she decides to put her original plan in action and rob Gotham’s Museum of Natural History. Harley is able to get in without the alarms going off, but she soon realizes she has company when the Ivy sets off the alarms. When the two are cornered, by police,  they work together to escape. As they speed away, Ivy says, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” 
Then of course, there's Suicide Squad. In one version, she's in jail due to murdering one of the prosecutors that put The Joker behind bars. This is when Amanda Waller inducts her into the Suicide Squad. Despite not having super powers, she is a valuable asset to the team…..even though Deathstroke has described her as “cuckoo for coco puffs.” We can’t deny that Harley is a bit “cuckoo”, but that’s what makes Harley’s character.

Why We Love Her:

  1. She's funny. Even though The Joker is the master of jokes, Harley definitely has her moments where she has made us laugh. Here's a video of some of Harley's funniest scenes from Batman the Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Gotham Girls.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_YtM1Lbi2w
  2. Her loyalty. Even though she has tried to kill her “Puddin'” many times, she's loyal to him. She loves him and we can't see Harley or The Joker being without the other. 
  3. She's pretty badass. Don't underestimate Harley. Even though she's a bubbly character, she can kick some ass and you don't want to be on her bad side.
  4. She's a strong female character. Harley is strong (both mentally and physically), brave, and she doesn't need The Joker in order to rescue her or get what she wants. She's definitely a strong female in the comic book universe and has helped bring in more of those strong females. 
  5. She walks to the beat of her own drum. Even though The Joker is manipulative, if Harley doesn’t want to do something, she’s not doing it. She doesn’t need to have The Joker come and save her when she’s in trouble and even though they’re a team, she’s independent. 
  6. You never know what she’s going to do. She doesn’t follow the rules, she’s smart, and thinks quickly. Those three elements make you unaware of what is exactly up Harley’s sleeve and that’s what makes it exciting to read or to watch.


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