Harley Quinn in the New 52 Suicide Squad:
I am not a fan. I am not a fan at all.
First off, the costume. It’s far too revealing for Harley Quinn. While the corset and boyshorts look might work on another character, it doesn’t suit Harley because Harley Quinn has never been about sex. Look at a character like Catwoman — she’s intended to be seductive because that’s just an element of her character (not that there isn’t a lot more to Catwoman than that, and not that the New 52 Catwoman series doesn’t completely suck.) But Harley Quinn is supposed to be this cheeky girl from Brooklyn who loves too much too easily and ends up a psychopath. She’s a villain, yes, but she’s also supposed to be endearing. Her costume isn’t something the Harley we know and love would choose to wear.
Honestly, if the costume was the only issue with Harley’s portrayal in Suicide Squad, I wouldn’t even be complaining. But the problem here is that Adam Glass is writing Harley in a way that’s just all wrong. And of course he starts from the very beginning, by screwing up her origin story. Yes, Harley is manipluated by the Joker, but she’s also a villain in her own right. She dons clown makeup and bust the Joker out of Arkham Asylum and fires bazookas at people and gets closer to killing Batman than the Joker ever does. She’s not a role model by any stretch of the imagination, but she has agency — she chooses to become a villain. In her new origin, she’s forcibly turned similarly to the Joker. This presents her as a sort of victim, which is just pathetic. Harley is a homicidal psychopath on her own, she’s not some poor girl the Joker created a sidekick out of.
More issues — Harley is a jokester, but she’s not very funny here. And Harley is supposed to be fanatically devoted to the Joker, but she’s being portrayed uncharacteristically as this sort of maneating sex bomb vixen I don’t even know. Again, that is not what Harley Quinn is about as a character. Take this panel from issue #3 for example:
Basically, Deadshot and Harley have no money to pay for groceries. I was expecting Harley to bam bam bazooka the balls out of the place, but instead, we get this shot. The picture is framed by Harley’s legs, with the oh-so-ominous quote “just leave the cashier to me.” Harley Quinn is not Poison Ivy. She would not use her feminine charms to finagle her way out of paying for groceries. She would just blow everything up and giggle. And then, of course, there’s my all-time favorite, also from #3:
First off, the idea of Deadshot and Harley even having sex in the first place is just bizarre. It’s grossly out of character for both of them. And then the way it’s written is just even weirder. And this panel in particular pisses me off. Harley Quinn is literally comparing her vagina to a clown car. Obviously, Suicide Squad is not as PG as Batman: The Animated Series, but COME ON. This isn’t just misrepresenting Harley, it’s bad writing in general.
However, I think the art on this panel in Suicide Squad #7 is great:
Harley putting the mask on Deadshot and forcing him to speak as the Joker is brilliant. It shows exactly the kind of delusion and bizarre attachment to the Joker that characterizes Harley. And aside from her tits popping out the top of her corset, her body language is spot-on.
To sum it up, I miss Harley Quinn. Because this clearly is not her.