The Young and the Crazy: When Harley left Joker

Image from adventuresinpoortaste.com

Let’s just get the elephant in the room out of the way: I like both the new Harley Quinn and the old one from the cartoons/comics. I would never say new Harley is better, in fact, I still adore old Harley, but I like the humor and style of the new one as well. If you hate this book for any reason at all, I don’t blame you. But we’re not here to talk about that. We, my cupcakes, are here to talk about something far better.

But, for those not caught up, let’s start at the top.

Even the biggest comic dunces know who Harley Quinn is. The perky, homicidal sidekick  to the Joker worked her way into fan hearts thanks to Batman: The Animated Series, earning enough popularity to be officially inaugurated into the DC universe. There, her popularity and fan devotion earned her a solo comic series, turning into one of DC’s biggest money makers. Her New 52 series is also earning great acclaim, sporting a new happily insane Harley who will Happy-Go-Splatty the heads of her enemies. It’s violent, it’s crazy,  and it’s split the fanbase down the middle.

Those same fans jumped for joy/cringed when they saw the first trailer for the upcoming film, Suicide Squad. They saw Margot Robbie’s multicolored pigtails and jumped for maniacal glee/wept in manic despair at Harley’s first appearance in cinema. Fans were less enthused all around to see Jared Leto wearing Joker-Face, but they seem to like the chemistry he has with Robbie.

Speaking of Mr. J, Harley’s storyline has taken one of the biggest steps forward ever in her comic career. While Harley has been separated/estranged from her clown boyfriend since her first solo comic (a fact that appears to be echoed in Suicide Squad set photos), and while she’s been seeing someone very new for a while now, her relationship with the Clown Prince of Crime just got its final nail in its coffin. To keep the spoilers to a minimum, Harley has not only left the Joker, but she left him while beating his bleached behind to a pulp.

If you don’t know why this is the most gratifying thing in the world, allow me to explain.

Harley’s relationship has been famous for its novelty, not for its mechanics. The idea of two super villains being a couple, with one being a likable and funny psychopath, appeals to people. But this relationship is unabashedly toxic: take away the clown makeup, the giant hammer, and the dark comedy, and you have a manipulative madman that took a reasonably good person, turned her into a murderer, and then proceeded to use her as his personal torture toy (especially in The New 52.) The true tragedy of it all wasn’t even the abuse Joker laid upon her, but the fact that she was psychologically incapable of freeing herself, even when he’s the one who gives her the boot. To quote Joker, “she’s always come back before.”

Harley isn’t coming back anymore, and this boyfriend beat-down is a celebration of it. Normally my soap box is on how unfairly we treat females abusing men, but this punch-fest is long overdue. To see Harley kick the crap out of, and verbally lash out against, the man who tormented her all these years is so satisfying because it feels final. It’s such a deep contrast to the helpless, powerless Harleen we saw before that it feels like a splash of cold water in July.  Despite DC’s attempts to sweep all their history under the rug with the reboot, it’s impossible to shake off the previous images of the terror she went through. Harley’s new found strength is invigorating, and the writers couldn’t have solidified it any better.

But, in this midst of joy, there lies a worry: Comics have a tendency to fall back on themselves. Character dead? Nah, he’s back. Character retired? Not anymore! Characters breaking up? Now they’re back together!

No. Not this time, DC. I doth protest.

What Harley did here was not only progress; it was symbolic. Forget the clown suit, forget the man in the bat costume, and just focus on what she did. If she can leave a man who’s had an almost literal death-grip on her, mind, body, and soul, then how many more people could do the same? I would never put the writers at DC in the inspirational role (especially not with New 52) or hold them responsible for anything that happens after releases, but I do know how far media can reach. People will take inspiration from the strangest places and this may, just maybe, be that saving grace for someone.

 

What’s your thoughts on the bad-boyfriend-beatdown? Not a giant fan of Harley Quinn? Does her new series make you laugh or make you gag? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments down below! And don’t forget to like, share, and follow if you like what you see.

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