Harley Quinn first appeared on Batman: The Animated Series, she then jumped into the world of comics and has been a welcome addition. A tragic figure wrapped in comedy and violence, Harley is a villain that makes you smile as you realize that her situation can get rather dark. Harley’s been making the news lately, sadly, not for her fun character but for other things she gets dragged into by writers and editors. This clown is always keeping you on your toes so let’s start trying to figure her out.
Harleen Frances Quinzel was a very talented gymnast, good enough to get a scholarship to Gotham University where she’d get a doctorate in psychology. She’d go on to work at Arkham Asylum and hope to make her career helping out some of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals. When she began working with the Joker, things took a turn. The Joker would use all sorts of methods to befriend and seduce her, making stories of his past. No one is sure if a single story he told her was real, let alone true, I doubt even he knows anymore.
Soon, Joker was breaking out of Arkham with an alarming success rate, even for the sterling rate of success of Arkham security this was worse. Those in charge began to think that that there was collusion with someone who worked at their facility and Harleen became their prime suspect. She had fallen in love with the Joker and been aiding him in his escapes and with her bosses learning this, she was locked away in the very same place she once worked. She was able to escape and join her “puddin'” the one she called Mistah J, the Joker.
Now living a life of crime and being head over heels in love, Harley was living a twisted romance as one of Gotham’s newest villains. Harley would have pet hyenas which she lovingly referred to as her babies and worked on plots with the Joker, like robbing stuff, blowing up stuff, and killing the Bat. You know, common couple stuff. It wasn’t always good times, he is a
clown monstrous villain so he could be exceptionally cruel to Harley. There were several times he’d do so to a point where they’d no longer be a couple.
When Harley was on her own she would frequently team-up with fellow villain, Poison Ivy. Ivy went from begrudgingly hanging out with Harley to being true friends. Harley was even given immunity to most poisons and some enhanced physical attributes thanks to Ivy’s bio-chemical skills. The two would become quite the threatening team and would have almost killed Batman on at least one occasion had Harley not found getting back at the Joker to be more pertinent. Harley and Ivy would bring Catwoman into their fold on occasion and become a triple threat of villainy.
During some alone time Harley would go back to visit her family where her brother was a layabout, her mother saddened by the turn her daughter took, and a dad locked in jail. Learning her father only wants to talk to her in hopes of getting money, Harley heads back to Gotham to renew her ties with Ivy and Catwoman. Spending good time with the two doesn’t stop Harley from betraying them to try and kill the Joker which turns into her siding with him, yet again. Joker and Harley are defeated by Batman and Catwoman which drives a wedge in the team up of Harley, Ivy, and Catwoman. For Harley to go back to Joker is a different kind of villainy but Catwoman joins the white hats when she works with Batman. Harley and Ivy work together to take down Catwoman and Batman but are arrested, Catwoman makes amends by releasing Harley and Ivy.
The New 52 changed Harley. Changed her a whole lot. Harley now had a back story that has Joker throwing her into chemicals like him and making her have chalk white skin like him and getting blue and red hair instead of his green. The two weren’t madly in love so much as stuck with each other until they weren’t. Harley would get drafted into the Suicide Squad and was often seen as one of the most dangerous members. She found herself attracted to Deadshot since he had several of the Joker’s negative traits that she found desirable.
When Joker was believed dead Harley staged a break out from the jail the Squad resided in and fled back to Gotham to learn of the Joker’s death. She ended up finding his face and attaching it to Deadshot so she could try and relive her times with Joker. Deadshot shoots her to stop her and she is still on the team for some reason after all this. When Joker returned Harley begrudgingly helped him.
I’m not a fan of New 52 Harley.
The Batman Adventures #12
Gotham City Sirens
Batman: The Animated Series
Dr. Alexander Bustos