But what makes Harley Quinn such a succesful character? I guess in the beginning we all saw Harley as an extention of The Joker. It was really interesting to see the Joker, a character mainly depicted as asexual, in a “relationship” although that charade didn’t last for long. For the Joker, Harley was always an accesory, it was another weapon to wield against The Batman.
As the stories moved on we realized that Harley was a really charismatic character that was able to shine on her own. That was the moment where many fans really connected with the character and suddenly we knew what Harley seemed to ignore: Harley Quinn didn’t need the Joker.
With the arrival of the new52 continuity we saw a drastic change in Harley’s look and attitude. Good bye old Harley Quinn in her Harlequin (Duhh) costume and hello sexy nurse Harley. We know that Harley was always flirty but I don’t think she was originally conceived as a sexual character. We just have to read “Mad Love” to know Harley was funny when she tried to do sexy. In the new version however, we have a Harley that transpires sensuality and it really seemed like a cheap shot orchestrated by DC in order to sell more comics by over-sexualizing one of his characters. That’s when the controversy started.
I have to admit, I was one of the people who were against this new version of Harley Quinn, however after reading the Suicide Squad comic I really fell in love with her new looks and attitude. The new Harley was a psychiatrist who left all social inhibition behind after meeting the Joker. When I say “all social inhibition” I really mean it. Now it seems logical to me that Dr. Harleen Quinzel is sexually extroverted. Obviously, Harley shouldn’t be a role model for any person but then, which villian should be? Let’s remember that even before the new 52 Harley was still a homicidal maniac in an abusive relationship who abandoned her career to follow another homicidal maniac.
So the question remains, old Harley or new Harley? I really don’t think we have to choose. As all the great characters, Harley has space for multiple interpretations and we can enjoy all of them. What’s important is to notice that Harley Quinn is a great character that appeals to the avarage person and represents all the bad choices we make despite of knowing they are bad choices. You are Harley when you’re drunk and call your ex girlfriend and we are all Harley when our death drive outmatches our life impulse. In that way I think Harley Quinn will continue to be a succesful character, one that hopefully will convince us that we can all overcome our worst demons and impulses.