Harley Quinn’s Greatest Hits by DC Comics

Yes, I’m actually reviewing a comic book.  With all the hype around Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad, I figured I’d better get a better understanding of who Harley Quinn is before seeing the movie.  Just like Rhonda Rousey for MMA, I think Harley Quinn could become the most popular superhero woman and promote Comic books for girls.  But in reading this Comic Book historical compilation, a few not so very feminist things occur.  First, we find out that Harley Quinn starts off as Dr. Harleen Quinzel who is the Joker’s psychiatrist.  She winds up falling in love with him, gets him out of an asylum, and co-conspires with him on crime sprees only to have the Joker try to kill her after he gets over her.  So not a very empowering start.  She winds up going crazy herself if she wasn’t crazy to begin with. 

 Throughout the comics which I assume span a few decades, you notice a few common themes.  The dialogue is corny, immature, and childish.  For example, a guy goes to the opera with Batman and says, let’s sit “boy, girl, boy, girl.”  It’s like seven-year-olds acting like adults.  Perhaps comic book writers are kids who just never grew up.  Dialogue is often short and clipped with asinine remarks like Batgirl going, “Look what the cat’s dragged in.”  But what do you expect from a comic book really, lengthy, profound, sophisticated adult conversations?  The ongoing theme of good guys versus bad guys is all there is it seems.  (These days, the imperfect, gritty, questionably good hero is a big thing along with darker costumes).  The whole obsession with fighting criminals seems like such a boring single-dimensional plot.  The world is so much more complex with politicians being criminals (although you can argue Two-Face covers that) and cops killing unarmed, innocent people.  There are certainly side-stories of relationships, love, and all.  You also notice that not only are the female heroes ridiculously perfect physically, but so are all the guys.  It’s not a sexism thing there, so long as the guys are also drawn into impossibly masculine, muscular studs, and you can somehow see all their muscle definition through their costumes.  In fact, the concept that most villains aren’t buff implies that non-muscular guys are inferior whereas the female villains are all as beautiful as the female heroes.  It certainly can make you feel in adequate as a dude to see a superhero dude with a chiseled face and jawline and sunken jowls, near zero body fat and on top of that, he’s rich.  These days billionaires are viewed as villains, so it’s odd seeing Batman as a good guy with his butler.  I guess boys buy into comic books, because they can always fantasize that when they get older, they’ll have a chiseled, super masculine face and body and hook up with impossibly perfect-bodied women.  Isn’t it fantasy after all?  Who wants to read about some chubby, scruffy superhero dude who beats villains by infecting their phones with viruses and they either have no girlfriend, or their girlfriend is also chubby.  It’s probably ironic that most comic book writers are not as masculine and buff as the superheroes they draw, so maybe it’s a fantasy thing for them too. 

 Then again, I am reviewing DC Comics and not the whole comic book genre which has evolved and diversified, and there are comic books that do not cover superheroes and are more like graphic novels. 

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