When writing this article, I began to think back to my youth during a time when cigarette companies actually used to have full-page ads in magazines. One of those ads was for a cigarette geared for the ladies called Virginia Slims. Long story short, the catchphrase for Virginia Slims was… “You’ve come a long way baby!” That is as about a fitting a line to describe the lady who inspired this article. Today, I write this Top Rack article for the one and only, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D. Or maybe you know her by her other name, Harley Quinn. She’s a psycho. She’s a killer. She’s a psycho killer, and she has for the better part of her history been known as being the Joker’s girlfriend and partner in crime, which is a travesty, as she is so much more than that. In the early days of her introduction on the Batman Animated Series television show, this version of Harley Quinn made a cute sidekick to the madness and evil that was the Joker. She stayed to the side and left smart remarks and was more of an annoyance than anything, albeit a dangerous one. There was that voice. Oh what a voice, as strong as a Brooklyn accent as you could get. She was a mess, but something about that look, that voice and that character begged for more. She needed to evolve. Shoot, she needed to be in the actual comic series rather than the television show.
It would eventually happen and in 1994, just a couple of years after her introduction, Quinn would receive high praise for the “Mad Love” origin story issue. This would begin the rise to fame for one of my all-time favorite bad girls of the comics world. “Mad Love” won The Harvey and Eisner Awards for Best Single Issue Comic for that year.
Quinn eventually entered the DC comic universe in full force during the 90s and has had many ups and downs. She actually had a series for a brief period in the 00s where she broke from the Joker, died, rose, and turned herself in to Arkham Asylum in the end. She has partnered with some other baddies (notably Poison Ivy and Catwoman in the Gotham City Sirens series), and has always been around the periphery of super stardom, adding more and more valuable pieces to her character puzzle.
With the DC New 52, Quinn dropped the old school jester look for a much skimpier and formidable look. She entered the realm of “Evil Vixen” as a well as a truly formidable foe beginning an evolutionary process that has us where we are today. With the “Suicide Squad” title from DC, Quinn has left that sidekick and secondary character status truly coming into her own as not only a tough and powerful criminal, but as a straight up bad ass. She doesn’t play.
Harley Quinn has now been introduced to launch a new individual series that debuted on November 20, 2013 with issue #0. Just the build-up to the issue has had its share of “real world” controversy as groups protested DC’s contest to be the next artist by drawing Harley in several suicide poses. I think Quinn herself would not have been more pleased with herself for the trouble caused by the contest. A very nice touch, even though that probably wasn’t what the creators of the contest had in mind.
Well Ms. Quinn has gone full circle as the emphasis of Issue #0 involves Harley being drawn by several artists in which she interacts directly with them trying to pick which one will do her title. The issue is hilarious and light-hearted bringing a nice fresh infusion of life to the more dark tone that DC has been taking recently in many of its titles. This is how Ms. Q would like it and yes, she does deserve it. My heavy praise goes to Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti for creating such an idea for the story begin. And. My hats off to all the artists…Amanda Conner, Becky Cloonan, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Stephanie Roux, Dan Panosian, Walter Simonson, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Bruce Timm, Charlie Adlard, Adam Hughes, Art Baltazar, Tradd Moore, Dave Johnson, Jeremy Roberts, Sam Kieth, Darwyn Cooke, and Chad Hardin (Whew) for showing Ms. Q in about every artistic style as could be imagined. What a damn fun ride on a damn fine character. Oh yeah, Paul Mounts did a cover with Amanda Conner (Think that’s all of them). What an amazing tribute to a bad lady starting fresh in her new series. Can’t wait to see where it goes. Keep our girl fresh and funky.