Where Does Harley Quinn Fit in with the Batman Family?

Harley Quinn is many issues. She’s an icon, a psychiatrist, a curler derby athlete…and dare we are saying, a hero. The Lady of Lunacy has come a good distance ever since she first appeared thirty years in the past this month on Batman: The Animated Series. I’m wondering, did anybody who watched “Joker’s Favor” when it aired for the first time suspect that the Clown Prince’s henchgirl would go on to star in her personal live-action film, an animated comedy and dozens of Hot Topic clothes strains? You’ve come a good distance Harley, however how can we describe your present position in Gotham’s hierarchy of heroes?

Harley Quinn’s ever-popular ongoing title is written by Stephanie Phillips, who took the reins on the heels of “The Joker War” in 2021. From its very first challenge, the collection has targeted on Harley attempting to make a brand new begin for herself as a hero. Not a villain. Certainly not a villain’s girlfriend. Not even an antihero. Harley Quinn’s attempting to be a real hero.

This shouldn’t come as a shock, as Harley hasn’t been the Joker’s sidekick in mainstream continuity for years. While she fought evil as a member of Task Force X, and sometimes in a few of her previous collection, it at all times appeared tangential to what was truly motivating her. In the Phillips collection, issues are totally different. Harley is able to develop into a full-fledged crimefighter.

Harley Quinn is clearly fairly totally different from the different members of the Bat-Family. She doesn’t put on a masks or cape, she’s not an orphan, and he or she was as soon as romantically concerned with the Joker. I don’t assume she’ll ever be an everyday in the Batcave, however does that imply she has much less worth than the different heroes? Don’t overlook, Barbara Gordon and Kate Kane didn’t develop into Batcave regulars at first both. So, what’s Harley’s position in Gotham’s hero hierarchy? Oracle is the info hub, Cassandra is the fighter, Dick is the coronary heart, and Kate is the tactician.

Harley’s most up-to-date storyline, “Task Force XX,” just lately wrapped up in Harley Quinn 2022 Annual #1. In it, Luke Fox recruits Harley and a gaggle of misfits to cease a harmful entity referred to as Element-X. It isn’t lengthy earlier than issues get out of hand, and that’s largely as a result of Luke didn’t share pertinent info with the group.

Let’s be sincere, all of you thought it was going to be Harley’s fault, didn’t you? I feel that’s a mistake everybody makes with Harley. They confuse her manic power and loopy non-sequiturs with incompetence.

Interestingly, “Task Force XX” opens with Harley assessing the position she normally performs in a workforce setting. During her opening narration, Harley compares superhero groups with college group tasks and talks about the dynamic these teams normally have. She mentions the scholar that doesn’t do any work, however will get all the credit score, the slacker who doesn’t take something severely, and the incompetent screwup who solely makes issues worse. Then, in fact, there’s the position Harley sees herself in: “The one who does all the work at the last minute after realizing that no one else was gonna actually create any of the (EXPLETIVES) PowerPoint slides.”

That’s the position Harley sees herself in, however is it correct? Throughout “Task Force XX” we see Harley in the group dynamic, and at first, she appears to fall into the different classes. When missiles goal the workforce’s rocket, Harley appears extra involved about meals than she does their destiny. When Dreadbolt sacrifices himself to cease the missiles, Harley continues joking, a lot to the horror and frustration of her teammates. She appears extra like the class clown than the chief her narration claimed to be.

But as the story goes on, you see Harley Quinn slowly take cost. When the workforce finds itself stranded on the Justice League’s outdated moon base, it’s Harley who figures out learn how to use the teleporter whereas everybody else is arguing. When Luke Fox has an emotional breakdown, Harley is the one who helps him regain his confidence. It’s Harley who clears a path for Killer Frost throughout the closing battle, which permits the snow queen to land the killing blow in opposition to Element-X. And in fact, Harley makes positive the workforce goes out for yogurt afterwards, as a result of dessert is nice for workforce morale.

What have we realized from this expertise? Harley Quinn would possibly act like the class clown, however she will get the job achieved. Don’t mistake her lunacy with stupidity. After all, Harleen is a licensed psychiatrist. She survived being the Joker’s girlfriend for years and has gone toe to toe with heroes like Batman. Does that sound like an incompetent fool to you?

So, what’s Harley’s position amongst the heroes of Gotham? You would possibly assume I’m loopy, however hear me out—Harley is the workforce mother. When the whole lot is falling aside, it’s the mother who makes positive issues get achieved. When somebody feels unworthy, it’s their mother who reminds them how particular they’re, very like Harley did with Luke. But individuals additionally underestimate their moms. They roll their eyes at issues their moms say and develop into embarrassed by their antics in public, similar to Task Force XX did with Harley.

Let’s face it, most of the heroes of Gotham are orphans anyway, so they may use a great mother. And with all of her intelligence, humor, dedication and breadth of expertise, they may do quite a bit worse than Harley…as unconventional as she could also be. So, let’s hear it for Harley and the development she’s proven over the previous a number of years. Just a little maturity by no means harm anyone, particularly not a former villain.

Just so long as it’s solely somewhat. After all, Harley does have a thirty-year fame to uphold.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, films and comics for DCComics.com, is an everyday contributor to the Couch Club and writes our month-to-month Batman column, “Gotham Gazette.” Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely these of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and don’t essentially replicate these of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.

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