A glimpse into the historical one-shot comic that introduced Harley Quinn into the mainstream continuity, as well as some information on where Harley has been and where she's going in the mainstream titles! 


 It happened in August of 1999, as part of the No Man's Land story-arc; a story which spanned numerous titles, exploring how Gotham City coped in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake and being cut off from the rest of the USA by the Government.
It was the event all Harleyites had been waiting for. Making Harley an "official" character meant we would all get to see a lot more of Harley and hopefully see a lot more of her character and her relationship with Joker explored as well. 
(it also kick-started an incredible onslaught of Harley-related merchandising and usage which unfortunately ultimately detracted from her character)

The book was "Harley Quinn" and was thankfully handled by none other than Paul Dini. Whilst sharing many characteristics with "Mad Love", it is quite a separate story, suited to the nittier, grittier reality of the Mainstream Universe. 

Opponents to Harley Quinn have always argued that someone like The Joker would not tolerate her to the degree that he has.  And I knew that The Joker of the mainstream comics was quite a bit more extreme than The Joker of the animated continuity.  The mainstream Joker is more psychotic, unpredictable, wicked and outrageous. He is renowned for doing some of the wickedest things to Batman and his loved ones. He has also always been a lone-shark with a penchant for knocking off his henchmen and disliking other company.
So how was he going to deal with clingy, affectionate, needy Harley?
It would take a masterful hand indeed to merge these two whilst keeping both of them in character!

Needless to say, Dini managed the feat marvellously, resulting in a wonderful, lively, tongue-in-cheek yet also bittersweet classic Harley & Joker story. 

My favourite part, which really typifies Joker, is when he reveals that he's begun to care for her - and it's too distracting, so he'll just kill her to take care of it! CLASSIC.

The cover was painted by the incredible Alex Ross who created an iconographic Joker & Harley image that captured everyone's hearts! The art was beautifully done by Yvel Guichet, who does a gorgeous Harley and a very sexy Joker.

They always seemed to hold back in the cartoon, but I finally got my wish - a Harley/Joker snogging pic! YAY! :D


The following images have been scanned from the comic book and are for entertainment purposes only. No profit is gained. They should not replace your reading enjoyment of the comic in full. Seriously, do yourselves a favour and buy this comic - it is soo very worth it! Click the image to see it full size.




 The Harley we have come to know through the mainstream series has a bit of a different tale to tell us than she of the animated series.
It's mostly the same - but it's been a little bit more fleshed out - and parts of it matured a little further.

We see Harleen Quinzel, an eager young psychiatry student, doing what she can to get her much coveted degree, and then moving into her first year internship at Arkham Asylum.

While there, she eventually persuades the higher-ups to let her have private sessions with Joker. She wanted to write a book on the serial killer mystique, and needed insight into his dangerous mind.

Well - she got it!
Turns out Harley wasn't there by accident. She had a bit of a thing for Joker even before securing her internship and when he begins strangling her during their first session together, she responds with delight. This throws Mistah J, who is immediately intrigued by the - possibilities.
Falling madly in love with Joker, Harley is persuaded to assist him in his escapes, having been told by Mistah J he needs time on the outside to put his therapy into practice. Believing in her man, Harley obliges - how can she not?
And so things go on for a while.

the student

dr quinn Then one day she is caught! Dr. Arkham is astounded and horrified. He has her doctor's licence revoked and committed to the Asylum on the spot. 
She's confined to solitary and counts away the hours, the days and the months until her Puddin' comes to be reunited with her.

But time passes, and there's no sign of Mistah J. She's about to give up hope, when her cell door mysteriously opens of its own accord.
Turns out an earthquake has wracked the city and Dr. Arkham has turned the loonies loose on Gotham. 
Heading immediately into town with only one purpose in mind - find Mistah J - she eventually catches up with her darling and proves herself of usefulness to the Clown Prince, arranging a home for them and providing distraction and aid where necessary.

They pass their days and nights in bliss together, Gotham is their oyster. There-s only one little problem: Mistah J is beginning to care about her.

And when Mistah J has feelings for someone, they might as well have dug their own grave.
The only way for Joker to deal with inconvenient feelings of affection is to destroy the object of them, so he immediately tries to off Harley. But she-s a tenacious little sucker and lands in Robinson Park, where Poison Ivy takes an interest in her, patches her up and sends her back to Joker - with a few new enhanced abilities.

Once they patch up their little spat, Harley serves as Joker-s companion through the No Man-s Land saga. At one point, failing to get the attention she desires from Mistah J, she fakes disinterest in him with the result that he persues her. She distracts Bats dressed as Mistah J when he's about to spring his Christmas gag on the city and then, after NML, joins him in Metropolis to get vengeance on Lex Luthor. She continues to be by his side in various adventures up until the commencement of her own series, in which we saw them 'split' (yeah, right).

What follows then is Harley persuing her own adventures and learning how to be an individual in her own right. She's still madly in love with her Puddin', but she gets quite a bit done herself! Bless her little sweet soul. Her friendship with Poison Ivy is explored a bit more and she even runs her own gang.

But by the end of the series, Harley decides she needs help and turns herself into Arkham.


free harley After some major therapy, Harley is up for release. Only problem is, that stinky Bruce Wayne won't cut her a break. Depressed and despondent, she's also alarmed to be unexpectedly kidnapped from Arkham in order to help out the Ventriloquist and his new moll, Sugar, with a major haul. But Harley's just not up for it anymore. She tips off the police and as a consequence Bruce Wayne approves her application for parole.

After this, Harley joins up with the Secret Six ' a misfit bunch of villains ' but eventually quits them as well. Normal life is tough for her after her life of crime and she's not really sure where she fits in. She secures herself a place at an Amazon-run women's shelter, befriending a former Catwoman, Holly Robinson. The two are taken to begin Amazon training, and have recently been granted some mysterious powers by a couple of the Greek Goddesses!

To catch up on what has happened after the finish of Countdown, check out the Gotham City Sirens and Suicide Squad pages!

During this time period, Harley was making a lot of obvious 'denials' of her former love, but it seems unlikely the love she had for him could be too easily quashed. 

An aspect introduced during her mainstream series, which I outrightly reject, is that her interest in Joker was spurred on by her college boyfriend, Guy Kopski. As part of an experiment to make up for her lagging grades (apparently she had a 'knack' for the profession, but lacked the ability to demonstrate it adequately through her studies for an undisclosed reason) she wanted to test how far Guy would go for love. She makes up a crime she committed - attacking an attempting rapist - but Guy goes to avenge her, accidentally killing a homeless man instead. Harleen confesses her lies, and Guy asks her to help kill himself.
After this, Harleen knows she must go to Arkham to work with Joker, stating he is the one person in all the world who gets what an awful joke life is.

The reason I reject this is because I think it actually completely undermines the brutal twisting and breaking of her mind by Joker.  Harley may have been a little bent and twisted prior to Joker's manipulations, but on the whole it is far more powerful a feat if she was essentially a normal person. And while I don't doubt that Harley had other boyfriends she loved, there should be no one who either eclipses or even comes close to what she feels for him.

the amazon!

Another 'alternate' story, not part of the official canon, takes place in Batman Confidential, in which Harleen and 'Jack' (Joker before his 'accident') encounter each other while she is working as a waitress and he is a disillusioned hitman. He is bored with his life of crime, and not knowing the details of what he does, she says if he's got a gift he should pursue it. This reinvigorates him and he returns to it for the passion, paying off Harleen's college bills for her. Even though things go no further than that, both feel an attraction to each other.
The most obvious problem with this is that Harley is barely in her late-twenties attending Arkham as an intern, and Joker is at least ten years her senior. But this storyline happens outside of the regular continuity anyway.