7 Things You Might Not Know About Harley Quinn

Sunday, 19 July 2015 - 12:58PM
DC Comics
Suicide Squad
Sunday, 19 July 2015 - 12:58PM
7 Things You Might Not Know About Harley Quinn
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Harley Quinn has been an immensely popular Batman character ever since her creation in the early 90s, almost immediately earning a place in the spotlight with the other big bads, such as the Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face, who have been around for decades longer. Recently her popularity has reached it's peak, as she will be featured as one of the main characters in the 2016 film, "Suicide Squad." Despite this, not many people outside of the circle of regular DC comic book readers really know much about her (except that maybe she's the Joker's girlfriend). So what is it that you need to know about Harley Quinn?


She Wasn't Originally a Comic Book Character

Most characters in the comic book world are created first for the comics and then later transition into bigger mediums such as TV shows and feature films. Not Harley Quinn, however. She made her first appearance on September 11, 1992 in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor." She stole the hearts of Batman fans everywhere in her classic jester costume and heavy New York accent, and soon after became a huge part of the DC multiverse with her comic book debut in The Batman Adventures #12, which came out just a year later in September of 1993.


She's a Child of Arkham Asylum

Usually the criminal careers of Batman's villains get them into the asylum, but the beginning of Harley Quinn's criminal career is actually what got her out. Though there have been different variations on the tales of her origins over the years, in issues #6-7 of The New 52's Suicide Squad title, we're given a glimpse into the past of one of our favorite psychotic clowns. Harley Quinn was once psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel whose most infamous patient eventually became her undoing. She showed some real spunk in her sessions with the Joker, and in turn she received some very special attention from the Clown Prince of Crime. Over time she developed a crush on the madman, genuinely believing that she might be able to help him.

But when her boss found out about her secret crush, and when Harleen found out about her boss stealing her notes on the Joker to write a book, it's all over. She snaps, kills some people, and breaks her favorite loony out of the loony bin. She starts to regret what she's done when the Joker takes her to ACE Chemicals, but it's too late. Though she's terrified of what he might do, and asks to go home, we all know that's not part of the Joker's plan. He tosses her into the same vat of chemicals that turned his skin pale and his hair green all those years ago. The last string snaps for Harleen at this point, and there's no going back. She's Harley Quinn now.


She's Not Really as Dumb as She Seems

It's hard not to think about how extremely stupid Harley Quinn comes off as after reading or watching any comic book or animated incarnation of the character. But in actuality, she's really quite intelligent. She has a PhD in psychology from Gotham University, and hasn't lost her abilities as a psychiatrist. In the Legends of the Dark Knight issue "Dr. Quinn's Diagnosis," she convinces Batman to trade sitting through a therapy session with her in order to gain information on the Joker's whereabouts (Batman has actually already caught the Joker, he just does this so he can learn whether she's a willing accomplice or not). In just a few moments, she deduces almost all major aspects of what made Batman want to become Batman. She doesn't really take this all that seriously though, and at the end she shows the B-man her notes, which turn out to be a drawing of a Batman stick figure saying "GRRRRR!" as she and Joker laugh in the background.

Likewise, in Secret Origins #4, Harley talks a bit about why she acts the way she does in front of a crowd of soon to be dead villains. Speaking of Joker, she says "He made me understand that in order ta be free, I hadda push aside what I knew an' become a whole new person. Someone who could be anything they wanted. The sex kitten, the seductress, the innocent, the aggressor, the antagonist, the victim, the ditz...He really loved the ditz, so I played along." Though she may be highly intelligent, there's no way that some of her ditzy antics can simply be all an act. It's part of who she is.


She's Got a Massive Crush On Bruce Wayne

In the 2015 Valentine Day's Special of Harley Quinn, Harley robs a corrupt Wall Street fat-cat in order to get the cash she needs for a very special auction. The money may go to The Wayne Foundation's animal shelter, but what she really cares about is winning a date with the one and only Bruce Wayne. Things get pretty crazy and Wayne ends up getting kidnapped, but in the end they finally get to enjoy a dinner (and a goodnight kiss) together. Batman swoops in to check up on her at the end of the issue, wondering if she really could be reformed, and also gets a surprise kiss. Harley tells him "...You should do yerself a favor an' take some kissin' lessons from yer millionaire friend some time. That guy could melt a diamond!" She hasn't forgotten about her Valentine since then, either, as she fantasizes about Bruce Wayne being her cabin boy when hallucinating she's the captain of a pirate ship in the latest issue of Harely Quinn.


She Teams Up With Powergirl

DC has just recently started a new comic series called Harley Quinn/Powergirl. Powergirl - a different version of Supergirl and the sole survivor from an alternate universe - lost her memory and met Harley Quinn on Coney Island. Taking advantage of the situation, Harley told Powergirl that they werea superhero team called "the Crazy Crusaders." It really is a team that only amnesia could create, but it's also a whole lot of fun to read.


She's Really Good at Being Bad

When she was still teaming up with Joker, Harley came close to being just as cold-blooded and psychopathic as the Clown Prince of Crime himself. For instance, when the Joker went on hiatus without telling Harley, she tracked down every one of the lawyers that ever put him in the asylum, murdered them, and then danced with their corpses - all in attempts to get his attention. Later, when she believed he was dead, she slit the throat of her old boss at Arkham Asylum without a moment's hesitation after gaining the information she needed from her. Hundreds of other examples of this sort of ruthless and sadistic behavior could be given, all of which prove that Harley Quinn isn't just the Joker's ditzy sidekick. She's someone to be very, very scared of.


She's Not Bad At Being Good

Knowing how psychotic she was in the past, it might be a bit unbelievable to think that Harley Quinn could actually ever be a good guy. But anything's possible in the world of comics. Ever since she and the Joker split, she's decided to take a lighter route in life. She's part of a roller derby team, is a landlady on Coney Island, plays vigilante, and even somewhat values human life. She's officially made the transition from villain to anti-hero. 

The truth is, Harley's always had a lighter side - and that's what separates her from the Joker. Even when she was trying to keep up her psychopath persona in Suicide Squad #3, she went out of her way to help save Black Spider, telling him "Listen, I got a reputation. So if you tell anyone that I helped you, I'll kill you, your family and your prom dates, capiche?!" How long will Harley semi-stay on the right side of the law? This question's yet to be answered, but it wouldn't be surprising to see her back with her Puddin' sometime in the near future.

Harley Quinn is a character with much more depth and complexity than one might originally think. She's intelligent, yet ditzy. She can be cruel, or she can be a hero. She's earned her popularity among comic fans, and will no doubt keep her in place in the DC Universe for years to come. You can catch Harley Quinn in her first live action film, Suicide Squad, premiering August 2016.

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7 Things You Might Not Know About Harley Quinn