Is the DCEU’s Harley Quinn an Antihero or Superhero?

While Harley Quinn is often framed as an antihero in the comics, she most certainly isn’t.  She is as much a superhero as anyone in the DC Universe and, being a survivor of abuse, she is stronger than just about any hero DC has, too.  Since falling in love with her character (thanks Harley Quinn on HBO Max!) I’ve read every Harley comic from 2013 to the present and she’s not done anything remotely antihero-ish in any of them.  Yes, Harley’s wild, a little chaotic, and has an impulse control problem (all of which she admits) but being a free spirit isn’t the same as being morally ambivalent.  Her actions in the comics, again and again, are remarkably heroic.  And I will die on this hill ;D.  Since seeing The Suicide Squad I’ve been wondering if the same holds true in the movies.  In the comics, Harley Quinn is a true superhero and the type of character we should all aspire to be like – as compassionate, loving, and open as she is brave.  But what about the DCEU (DC Extended Universe)?  Is Harley an antihero in the films or, like the comics, is she a superhero lacking the recognition she deserves?

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Reconsidering Harley Quinn: Just Who Is the Clown Princess of Coney Island?

Harley Quinn has had legions of loyal fans for ages.  For a long time, I mainly knew her as the Joker’s girlfriend on Batman: The Animated Series.  I knew DC had brought her into their comics’ continuity.  I knew she and the Joker had broken up (maybe? sort of?).  I knew she’d shifted from villain to antihero to star in her own comic.  I’d heard her referred to as “DC’s Deadpool.”  But what about her brought such adoration among readers?  In a 2016 interview with Vulture, DC Comics’ Publisher and CCO Jim Lee said, “I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.”[1]  That’s HUGE.  Lee is equating Harley to DC’s Trinity, their Big Three, the foundation upon which DC is built.  After reading the near 100 comics comprising Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn (yes, I got excited and bought them all (no, I have no regrets)) I get it.   

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Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) – Fiction’s Fearless Females

By Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2

Guess who’s back, back again?! #FFF is back, tell a friend! This time, I’m kicking off our annual series about your favorite fictional ladies of the fearless variety 😉 Joining Nancy and I are Michael of My Comic Relief, Jesse of the newly revived Green Onion, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Please give them a follow to catch their posts (all have great content outside of #FFF), or look out for them here, throughout the month. Continue reading

What I Learned Watching 26 Episodes of Harley Quinn in 8 Days

On a whim, I decided to try watching Harley Quinn on HBO Max.  My only real experience with Harley Quinn up to this point had been Batman: The Animated Series, obviously, and DC’s recent Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.  As I watched, I thought it’d be fun to write about the experience as I did last year, when I tried to binge-watch ninety-six episodes of Supergirl in the nineteen days I had left before the new season premiered.  Instead of doing any sort of analysis or deconstruction or anything like that, I just wrote my stream-of-consciousness thoughts as I watched.  Now I’ve discovered the DC Universe’s Harley Quinn show!  And, while I watched at a more leisurely pace (relatively speaking), I decided to write the same sort of piece.  Let’s see where this goes…

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Batwoman: Free of Guilt, Driven by Faith

Kate Kane, the Batwoman, is a remarkable character.  Even after a lifetime of being bored by Batman, I found her so compelling James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics – with Batwoman leading Batman’s team in Gotham – became a permanent part of my pull list.  Her solo Rebirth Batwoman title, penned by Marguerite Bennette and Tynion IV, soon followed.  Last Christmas I was excited to find trade collections of her earlier New 52 adventures had made their way under the tree.  What draws me to Batwoman is, while she wears the bat symbol, she transcends the most serious faults we see in the Batman.  In so doing, she’s not just a character I connect with and love reading about.  She’s also one who instructs and inspires transformation in her readers, as only the most important characters do. Continue reading

What I Learned Watching 96 Episodes of Supergirl (with Crossovers) in 16 Days

I have a habit of committing (should we say overcommitting?) to ridiculous viewing marathons.  I don’t really know why.  But I tend to do it more so with movies than shows.  However, when I heard the Arrowverse was going to be gaining a new show this fall in the form of Batwoman – a character whom I adore – I knew I’d be tuning in.  When I realized Batwoman would be airing Sunday nights before Supergirl – a show I’ve always been interested in but never committed to watching (because the Arrowverse is huge and intimidating) – I figured I should check it out.  Why not, right?  The first four seasons were on Netflix.  Maybe, maybe I should try and binge-watch (even though I don’t particularly care for binge-watching) all four seasons before the new one premiered.  Then I could watch Batwoman live without fear of spoilers for Supergirl AND enjoy Supergirl at the same time!  Was this the best idea I’ve ever had??

What follows is the stream-of-consciousness list of lessons I learned while trying to watch all ninety-six episodes of Supergirl (with crossovers) over the course of sixteen wild days.  Continue reading

The Four Comics I Can’t Live Without

A few years ago, when I was counting down to my hundredth post on this site, I profiled the four comic books I’d found since my return to reading comics which had become indispensable to my reading life.  These were the comics that, even if I stopped collecting comics again, I couldn’t imagine putting down.  They showcased, for me, the best of what a comic could offer while doing things I never imagined a comic book could.  They were (in the order I wrote about them in my countdown), Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, IDW’s Ghostbusters, and Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  Thinking of those titles now, I can still feel the burgeoning excitement and awe that accompanied my return to comic reading.  They also make me think of impermanence. Continue reading

The Unique Magic of G. Willow Wilson’s Wonder Woman

My near-exclusive Marvel fandom has been indelibly stamped on my being for over thirty years however I’ve wanted to read Wonder Woman since I saw Patty Jenkins’ brilliant film.  She redefined everything a comic book movie could be/do in the summer of 2017 and I was captivated.  Diana Prince is a uniquely important character too, who’s been a part of our popular culture since 1941.  She is the archetypal female superhero.  She’s part of DC’s Trinity and, no matter how much I love them, Marvel has no one like her.  In short, she’s a character I should know.  So I tried the first issue of Greg Rucka’s “Rebirth” run but found it more confusing than welcoming.  Yet I kept trying, wanting to experience this character I’d fallen in love with at the movies in the genre she was born into.  I researched “classic” or “definitive” Wonder Woman stories but jumping into the middle of seventy-seven years of stories, almost completely at random, felt a bit intimidating.  Then came G. Willow Wilson. Continue reading

Revisiting (for no reason in particular) 1996’s Marvel Versus DC Event

You know when you have something stuck in your head and you can’t exorcise it until you experience it?  Like a song you need to listen to or a movie you have to watch?  Well, inexplicably, I’ve had 1996’s Marvel Comics VERSUS DC event stuck in my head for weeks.  It’s so strong I’ve even been thinking of those Amalgam Comics they ran between the third and fourth issues of the series.  So, like a particularly hooky song, in order to free my random mental musings from this event I decided to reread it.  Even as a kid it seemed more like a popularity contest than a legitimate story but now, as an adult, I wanted to look at that more closely.  Given these match-ups, do any of the victors make sense for any reason outside of who was the clear fan favorite? Continue reading

The Impossible Surprise of James Tynion IV’s Batman: Detective Comics

I have to tip my hat to James Tynion IV.  He’s clearly one of our most talented modern comic writers.  I’ve always been fairly ambivalent about DC.  And I’ve never, ever liked Batman.  I’ve said before I think he’s overrated.  In fact, he kind of annoys me.  He’s this grumpy malcontent whose emotional development stalled as the result of a childhood tragedy and now (somewhat ironically) recruits child soldiers to help him battle the most dangerous and disturbed minds on the planet.  He’s too dark, dangerous, and dour to ever be my sort of superhero.  BUT James Tynion IV has taken this character I’ve never liked and created a comic I love around him.  His Detective Comics is the lone DC book I need to read in my world of Marvel and IDW titles. Continue reading