Harley Quinn: The bad gal with a heart of tarnished gold
Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel. The delightful mistress of mayhem first appeared in 1992’s Batman the animated Series episode in the seventh episode called “Joker’s Favor”, created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini*. At that point she was a mere devoted sidekick to the overtly psychotic Joker. One would think he would steal the show. Yet despite his antics, Harley developed her own following.
A year later, she made her first appearance on paper in the comic based on the series**. In the twenty four years that have followed, she has become a fan favorite. This popularity is due in no small part to the fact that she’s just so damn fun. At times heroic, at times straight up villain, she has now become the perfect bad gal with a heart of tarnished gold.
She has also become a person, bad or good, in her own right. No longer a just play thing for the Joker, she hangs with the girls and plays with the boys from both sides of the moral spectrum. From being a kissing buddy with Poison Ivy to a temporary partner with the Green Arrow and Green Lantern, she swings all ways.
It’s no surprise that the Suicide Squad, while always an entertaining and at times great book, thrived with her addition. It also makes perfect sense for her to be the lead in the film, whether it’s portrayed that way or not.
S0, do you familiar with the character but you’re not quite sure what to read? Let’s see what we can do about that.
DC Comics has just released a few new collections. The perfect starting point would be HARLEY QUINN’S GREATEST HITS. Eight stories, the first a short re-telling of her origin from Countdown #10.
Then we’re off to the races with her first in print story from Batman Adventures #12. The tales continue through the years right up to this latest solo book by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti writing and the awesome John Timms on art.
Also just out the fourth volume by Conner and Palmiotti creating A CALL TO ARMS. In this collection (issues 17-21,) Harley has gathered a group of likeminded folks who dress similar and band together to try and do good things, for a paycheck. Witty banter, awesome fight scenes and marvelous mayhem can take it’s toll though and so the collection wraps with Harley and her pals Catwoman and Poison Ivy taking a road trip to Hollywood. This collection has everything I love about this latest run with the character and it’s a great jumping on point for new fans.
*This episode is one of the few instances in the entire DCAU when Batman laughs. Coincidence?
** This comic book reveals Harley’s origins as an Arkham Asylum psychiatrist who falls in love with the Joker. The story was widely praised and won the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Single Issue Comic of the Year.