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Comic Book / Harley Quinn

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"You think I'm just a doll. A doll that's pink and light. A doll you can arrange any way you like. You're wrong."

The page for the comic series spotlighting everyone's favorite Canon Immigrant and Perky Female Minion, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, also known as Harley Quinn!

The first series lasted for 38 issues, from December 2000 to January 2004, plus a special tying in with the Our Worlds at War event, with the complete run collected in graphic novels. Initially it was written by Karl Kesel, with A. J. Lieberman taking over for the last year or so.

The series begins when, after a failed scheme, the Joker gets so pissed at Harley that he kicks her out of his gang — the rest of the series deals with Harley trying to make it on her own. Initially she tries freelance henching, but that doesn't exactly work out, so she starts her own gang instead. With... mixed results.

A running theme in the first part is Harley's childlike inability to take responsibility for her own actions, or even acknowledge/realize any consequences besides her having fun, which reaches Tear Jerker levels at times, though the comic itself is more than a little madcap. Also heavily involved is Harley's love of Love, and her being willing to do pretty much anything in the name of it.

The last set of storylines, following the change in writers, happen after a time skip and feature a noticeable Genre Shift to a more noirish style, downplaying Harley's cheery quirks and madcap adventures and instead playing her more like a jaded expy of Catwoman. This did not last.

In true tradition of the Batman side-comics, the Caped Crusader himself does not appear very often, nor, interestingly enough, does the Joker beyond the first issue or so.

Note that the title character predates this series. She had debuted in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Her first comic book appearance was in The Batman Adventures #12 (September, 1993). Her introduction to the mainstream DC universe took place in the one-shot Batman: Harley Quinn (October, 1999).

The first series has largely inspired the 2019 animated streaming show Harley Quinn (2019).

Harley got a second series in the New 52, which ran for 31 issues from November 2013 to July 2016, and had a number of specials. It was written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner of Power Girl fame, and follows Harley and her antics on Coney Island after she inherits an apartment complex there.

In June 2015, it got a Spin-Off miniseries by Palmiotti, Conner, and Justin Gray, Harley Quinn/Power Girl, recounting a lost adventure set during the duo's partnership in the main series, featuring Vartox of Power Girl fame. In December of the same year, DC launched a second spin-off miniseries called Harley's Little Black Book, by Palmiotti and Conner, a The Brave and the Bold-style Team-Up Series that features Harley partnering with a different DC hero or villain in each issue. In April 2016, it got a third spin-off, the miniseries Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys, written by Palmiotti and Frank Tieri.

The series was relaunched in August 2016 as part of DC Rebirth, now twice-monthly and with a new #1 issue, but as a seamless continuation of the previous series with hardly any changes, keeping Palmiotti and Conner as writers, and Harley on Coney Island with the same supporting cast. Connor and Palmiotti left after issue #35; from issue #36, Frank Tieri took over as writer for seven issues and Christopher Sabela for two, before Sam Humphries became the new ongoing writer with #45. The series went monthly again from issue #57. The series ended with #75.

2018 saw a further spin-off miniseries by Tieri, Old Lady Harley, returning to the parody post-apocalyptic Bad Future depicted in #42. 2019 saw the spin-off miniseries Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and quite a lot of non-continuity Harley miniseries and graphic novels for DC's specialist imprints: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass for DC Ink, which features Harley and a... very unusual version of the Joker as contemporary left-wing political activists; Harleen for DC Black Label, a new retelling of Harley's origin by Stjepan Seijic; and Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity, a DC Black Label miniseries set in a non-superhero universe with the Joker as a mundane serial killer and Harleen as a police profiler on his trail. 2020 saw another mini-series, Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey, written by Conner and Palmiotti with, for the first time, interior art by Conner; this was made to tie in with the film Birds of Prey (2020), featuring Harley with the Birds team as depicted in the film of Renee Montoya, Black Canary, Huntress, and Cassandra Cain. At the same time, the digital-first series Harley Quinn: Black, White and Red was released, featuring Harley comics set in various continuities by various authors, printed exclusively in the eponymous colors.

In 2021, the series was relaunched from #1 again, with Stephanie Phillips as writer and Riley Rossmo as main artist. In contrast to the previous couple of runs, this one was much more strongly tied in to the continuity of Batman-related titles, continuing on from Harley's return to Gotham during the "Joker War" event, and depicting her attempts to make up for her past actions and help redeem other people who fell under the Joker's influence. Rossmo left after #17, replaced by a variety of different creators, and in 2023 the series was relaunched under the "Dawn of DC" banner from #28 on, with Tini Howard as writer and Sweeney Boo as artist.

Note: This isn't a character page. This page is about Harley's various solo series and the tropes therein. For character tropes related to all appearances by The DCU incarnation of the character, see here, or for her DC Extended Universe live-action version here. Or you can just ask her yourself. The original version can be found here.

These series provides examples of:

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    Vol 1
Old School.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In the original Mad Love comic, written by her creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, it's implied that Harley had slept her way through college to earn her psychology degree, otherwise she'd fail. Many other incarnations, including her main DCU one, legitimately earned their degrees.
  • Aesop Amnesia: A major lesson Harley learns in the series is that she doesn't need the Joker in her life. Unfortunately, at some point between the end of the series and her next appearance in the comics, Joker must have gotten to her again, which is sadly very in character.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: In-Universe. The fourth issue has a man who says he can never hold down a job because he looks just like... the Joker (Harley's first guess was Al Gore on a bad hair day). He doesn't and is clearly delusional, eventually leading to his own death out of sheer idiocy.
  • Anti-Villain / Anti-Hero: Harley, who fluctuates between a good-hearted villain and devious but heroic very rapidly. Sometimes in the same issue.
  • Art Shift: Several times in the first part of the series the art shifts to a sort of "Harleyvision," which shows the world how she sees it: rendered in a more cartoony version of the DCAU style, where nobody dies and everything plays out like a Looney Tunes cartoon. This becomes harrowing at times, such as when Harley blows up a traitorous minion and we see, in Harleyvision, a Looney Tunes-esque scene where the woman's face is covered in soot, her hair is frizzy, and her eyes are swirled like a stunned cartoon character after an explosion... and then later someone runs through the same hallway and we instead see the truth: the minion's mangled corpse.
  • Bad Boss: Harley runs into this twice - with Joker and Two-Face. She herself kills several of her minions, but only after they betray her, with one notable exception.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: In one issue Harley was killed and sent to Hell, but was banished from the place due to her focus on joy and love. Clearly, in a place where you're supposed to "Abandon All Hope", the staff doesn't like having someone like that around.
  • Berserk Button: The entire Bat-family attack Harley when she dresses as Batgirl. Dick, especially, is very pissed.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Poison Ivy's relationship with Harley has primarily been this way since they met in Batman: The Animated Series (though DC kept it as subtexty as possible for years). Harley is head-over-heels for her boyfriend, the Joker. The Joker is extremely physically and emotionally abusive but Harley always goes back to him in the end. Ivy on the other hand has feelings for Harley and the two have a much more stable relationship, but Depending on the Writer Harley is either oblivious, knows of Ivy's feeling but ignores her, or has flings with Ivy when she and the Joker are separate. Starting with the New 52 reboot, DC revamped Ivy and Harley's relationship to be more obviously romantic and requited. They're either Friends with Benefits or a non-monogamous couple.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens several times to Thorn after she is defeated by Harley and Ivy.
  • Bunny Ears Psychologist: Harley, in spades. She barely ever acts like anything but an unrestrained loon, but occasionally she makes it known that she's still a university-educated psychologist. Later in the series, after she mostly loses the "bunny ears," she gets a day job in the field and takes a few patients (one or two of which want to kill her).
  • Canon Immigrant: Harley, from Batman: The Animated Series: while she appeared in the comics before this, this was where she came into her own and got a lot of character establishment.
  • Children Are Innocent: With Harley as a (wo)manchild rather than a regular one. She is, however, widely regarded by others as being extremely innocent, of the "not aware of doing evil" variety, just, in her mind, having fun - this does, however, involve a laundry list of psychologically stunted systems of denial. She sees the world like a game of make-believe, and is oblivious to the fact that she is hurting people and doesn't truly acknowledge the danger of what she does or other people's danger to her - though she in more lucid moments claims this is less innocence and more a rejecting of the world in favor of her own reality.
  • Clark Kenting: Harley parodies (and lampshades) this trope while in Metropolis, disguising herself as a mild-mannered, if kooky, love columnist for the Daily Planet — without ever realizing one of her coworkers is Superman.
  • Downer Ending: In the final story arc Harley has to protect a girl who has some sort of code written on her retina. While Harley claims the girl means nothing to her, it's clear she does care about her as she saves her multiple times. Despite this, she ends up selling out the girl and letting her go blind despite promising not to. This makes her feel so guilty she has a total mental breakdown, and voluntarily returns to Arkham. The saddest part is she really did care about the girl (otherwise she wouldn't feel so guilty), and was thinking about saving her at first, but still chose to betray her
  • Evil Versus Evil: Though Harley is far from a saint herself, she usually ends up combating people and entities that are worse than her. The kicker is William St. James, the Big Bad of the last arc, who kickstarts a six-way Mob War so he can kidnap a girl for a code to riches he implanted on her retinas. Harley spends the last arc fighting St. James to protect the girl, only to blind the girl herself to take the riches.
  • Fanservice: The series is led by Harley, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman, so there are plenty of panels that focus on the characters' attractiveness. The other female heroes and villains that get involved in their adventures similarly have shots highlighting their breasts and rears.
  • Faux Action Girl: Gritty vigilante Thorn is easily defeated and tied up by Harley and Ivy in each of her appearances, barring the first.
  • For Science!: At one point Harley and Ivy capture a meddling Thorn in Metropolis, and while having her at their mercy discover her split civilian "Rose" personality. Harley is intrigued and gets the idea to put her through even more emotional trauma to see how many times they can get her personality to split. Ivy plays along, but she on the other hand just wants to torture her for the hell of it.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Usually an imaginary Harley comments to viewers on events in the comic.
  • Freudian Excuse / Start of Darkness: One story gives us a flashback to before Harley met the Joker, where a psychological experiment gone terribly wrong with her old fiancĂ©, resulting in his suicide, drives her to a philosophy of meaninglessness and emotional fragility long before she ever sets foot in Arkham, and it's this, if anything, that starts her on her road to villainy, with the Joker just guiding her to her destination.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Harley kidnaps a girl whose eyes are needed for some sort of convoluted and very lucrative underhanded venture - but while she is protecting her from others who want the money (and don't care whether the girl lives), the two sort of bond. So then, it comes down to Harley whether to give up the girl and make a mint or save her. Long story short, the girl ends up blind and Harley ends up richer, completely depressed and unable to look at herself in the mirror.
  • Genius Ditz: The series itself goes back and forth as to whether Harley truly is a brilliant psychologist or whether she cheated her way through school and was not fit to do it in the first place - though it eventually settles on the former.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of the series is Harley getting involved in wacky shenanigans all over the DC Universe, including Gotham, Metropolis, and Hell itself, while she's trying to get over the Joker; even when serious characters are involved, Harley's childlike nature keeps the comedy high. The last arc completely shifts gears and becomes a noir-esque adventure and character study with very high stakes, featuring a six-way Mob War, a small child at the center of it trying to hide from a hunter who killed her parents, and Harley committing a sin so grave she checks herself back into Arkham out of pure guilt.
  • Girlish Pigtails: When out of costume she usually has her hair in pigtails. Fitting considering how childish she is.
  • Girl's Night Out Episode: Several times in the beginning of the series, where a female villain eventually teams up with other female villains and they fight female heroes, particularly the "sleepover" episode.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Often. Her shoulder devil alternately appears as either the Joker or herself in costume, while her shoulder angel is consistently Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Fairly often, however, they shift roles from "good/evil" to "reason/insanity" or "common sense/impulsiveness."
  • Happy Harlequin Hat: Completing her harlequin inspired outfit is her iconic red and black hat, though it has two flaps and no bells.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: To the Joker, of course. The series as a whole is one long attempt by her to get over this, especially the first half, with varied success.
  • Innocence Lost: A major plot point in the second half, involving Harley herself, who realizes what kind of person she truly is and fully, if sadly, embraces it, and a girl she kidnapped, who loses her sight thanks to Harley's greed. Inverted with the girl in question, who regains a bit of her innocence after being free of everyone pursuing her (now that she doesn't have what they want anymore) to the point that she pities people like Harley.
  • Jet Pack: Harley steals a jet pack at some point. She runs into trouble when it explodes.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted: In the final story arc, Harley has to watch over a little girl who has some kind of code written on her retina she has to scan her to get the code, but afterwards the girl will be blind for life if she doesn't get help. Despite promising to save her Harley instead fucks her over and lets her go blind in order to get a reward. In the final issue, she has an epic Heroic BSoD/ Villainous Breakdown and feels so guilty she turns herself in to Arkham, meaning even if the other characters let her get away with betraying the girl (including the girl herself, who considers her blindness a good thing if it means no one's hunting her anymore), her conscience certainly didn't.
  • Killed Off for Real: Harley, at one point, gets caught up in a massive explosion. The next few issues take place in Hell. She gets better. Also, Lewis, though Harley never registers that she killed him.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Harley mentions in issue 13 how it's always night time in Gotham City.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Harley's backstory, of course.
  • Love Redeems / Love Freak : Of a sort. Harley, being a lover of love, decides to help it grow wherever she can - being in love is the easiest way to get her to spare you. Early on she fights Two-Face to save a hostage he was taking as his own because she felt the story was romantic, and later on she plays matchmaker to a pair of bounty hunters trying to bring her in.
  • Male Gaze: If an issue is drawn by Terry Dodson, you can be sure that there is a butt shot of Harley or Poison Ivy (also Catwoman once).
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Happens twice - to Lewis in the beginning, who was trying to guide the driftingly insane Harley to something better than the world he was stuck in. Harley herself killed him, shooting him through the chest to stop him from killing hostages, though she does not acknowledge that she had fatally injured him. Later happens to the old ex-con Harley befriends, who was implied to have done a lot to help her into the relative sanity she had by the end of the series.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She often wears a tight jester suit and switches it out for what can best be described as a bikini designed to resemble her former appearance.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: For a time, Jimmy Olsen of all people dates Harley without realizing who she is. This does not end well for Jimmy when it doesn't work out.
  • Psycho for Hire: Several, including a traitorous henchman Harley for some reason continues to hire.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Harley herself, who acts and thinks like a child at play; this is particularly noticeable with the addition of the aforementioned Harleyvision - the world as she sees it where, again, nobody dies and everything is like a game or cartoon. Harley herself does not register the true consequences of her actions, and doesn't even realize she's been killing people until she meets with up her victims in Hell (long story), and even then it takes her a while to realize they're dead - she thinks she's still alive because she doesn't register having killed anyone.
  • Psycho Psychologist: In college, one of Harley's professors led her in an experiment that ended with her boyfriend killing himself, and his only regret in the matter is that Harley refuses to tell him whether the boyfriend killed himself or if Harley helped him do it.
  • Shipper on Deck: During the first run, Harley notices the Unresolved Sexual Tension between two detectives and decides to encourage them to get together. She ends up killing Lewis, the most developed and sympathetic of her henchmen, to keep him from being a Moment Killer — although she thinks it's just a flesh wound thanks to Harleyvision.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slumber Party: Harley held a supervillainess sleepover in one issue.
  • Split Personality: Two-Face appears at one point, so that's a given. However, the storyline where he appears also involves a businessman allegedly having an affair with a woman who turns out to be his wife's split personality. Also, Rose and Thorn appear when Harley goes to Metropolis.
  • The Starscream: When Harley starts her own gang she gets several, including a remnant of one of Joker's gangs who is disappointed she isn't more violently destructive.
  • Start of Darkness: It's Harley's comic, so of course we'll see it. But the kicker is that it's not how you might remember it; for a start, she was already on track to snap before she met the Joker.
  • Straw Nihilist: Gotham breeds this - in this series there's Joker, Lewis (to an extent: this is one of the reasons why he did not feel sad about finally being killed), and Harley to an extent.
  • Toasted Buns: Harley references this while jetpacking away from Superman — which makes sense, as the jetpack in question is small enough to fit in her lower back and at one point is directly facing into her behind.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Her constant, unyielding focus on love and joy caused her to get banished from hell.
  • The Unreveal: Weaponized in fact. Harley's Start of Darkness involved her professor's experiment killing her boyfriend, but it's never shown whether Harley shot him in assisted suicide or he just shot himself. Harley finds out the professor has been after the answer for all these years and refuses to tell him.
  • Villain Protagonist: While she has some heroic moments the series is largely about her committing a lot of crime and trying to establish her own criminal empire without the guidance of the Joker.

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    Vol 3 

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