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  1. #61
    Incredible Member The no face guy's Avatar
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    I think she's just one of those rare polarizing characters who people really like or dislike. My friend absolutely loves her, and has a collection of all her early appearances.

    I however fall in the other camp, as I have always find her annoying since she first showed up in the Batman cartoons.

    I respect her commercial viability, and why they had her lead the BOP movie, but as a traditional BOP fan, I wasn't happy with the decision, and it's the first time I'm not collecting the comic series.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    First, of the characters you list above, only one can be said to have the same public stature as large as or bigger than Harley Quinn, and that is Wonder Woman. Storm, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost are nowhere near as well-known, and are then primarily known as members of a larger team. Also, they are Marvel characters, so firewalled off from the DC side.

    If you want a better comparison with Marvel right now, it'd be Captain Marvel, but note that her movie faced a fierce campaign from online haters as well.

    Second, sexism can express itself in lots of ways. One of those is that a character should stay in place and not evolve. We get tons of posters here that Babs should be Batgirl rather than Oracle, or that Harley Quinn (or Catwoman or Poison Ivy) should stay villanous. But I've never seen anyone express anything similar about Dick Grayson, that he should stay on as Robin rather than being Nightwing. Or that Riddler's or Killer Croc's sometimes anti-hero status should be aborted.

    Third, I believe misogyny most definitely plays a role in shaping the reaction to how much DC pushes Harley Quinn. She is a visible and uppity woman. The tone and the stridency changes compared to characters like Batman or BWL or Joker. Sexism causes people to think that even if they push Batman (et c) too much, at least they don't take it as a threat.



    It is equally dangerous to think that sexism in various forms does not play a role in the way Harley Quinn is perceived. I'm thinking about far more than overt stuff here, but also small things and patterns of thoughts. All of us—even me—has internalised patterns of thoughts and prejudices regarding sexism, and it is foolish to believe that it does not shape how you think of a character. Indeed, the very denial of sexism is to me a sure sign of lots of unexamined sexist prejudices.



    Correct. Not all criticism against Harley Quinn comes from sexism or misogyny. But "not all" is not "no", and one of the way sexism expresses itself is by taking valid criticism and latching onto it by spreading it far more, expressing it more forcefully, and perpetuating it.

    I think nearly everyone here thinks Heroes in Crisis was at best an interesting dumpster fire. But why is only Harley brought up as a character who was written badly anymore, and not Batman or Superman?

    Because that is one way that sexism can express itself: female characters are judged and remembered based on their worst depictions; male characters from their best.
    I dont think this is a fair arugement.For one,form what i see here.The reason why people want to see babs as Batgirl not Oracle for two reasons.One they want to see her in the field.Two,they dont like the Killing Joke which is heavy tied to the Oracle persona.


    Either of these issuses exist with Dick as Nightwing.So I cant accept that as a example of a double standard.As for Riddler or Croc.Their more mainstream protaryals tend to stick with them as villans.

    Catwoman is pretty much always a anti hero these days.Harley more often than not is used as a anti hero (admittedly more of a dark one).As for lvy,their currently trying to make her more of a morally grey type of character.

    Again these two things are not the same.

    I dont really get the Batman part of your comment.For years now people have complaining about DC Batmans overuse.Numberous theads on this very site complaining about DC shoehoarding Batman wherent he doesnt belong or having him punch above his weight class.People have only recently gotten sick of Harley.
    Last edited by Baseman; 08-24-2020 at 03:53 PM.

  3. #63
    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Second, sexism can express itself in lots of ways. One of those is that a character should stay in place and not evolve. We get tons of posters here that Babs should be Batgirl rather than Oracle, or that Harley Quinn (or Catwoman or Poison Ivy) should stay villanous. But I've never seen anyone express anything similar about Dick Grayson, that he should stay on as Robin rather than being Nightwing. Or that Riddler's or Killer Croc's sometimes anti-hero status should be aborted.
    The Oracle thing is a bit more complicated than that I feel. For one, Dick's transition to Nightwing doesn't involve a similar event as TKJ, one of the most infamous fridgings in comics. Oracle was wonderfully written damage control for that, but the initial transition away from Batgirl was callous and the Batgirl fans have never taken kindly to it. She had some great runs as Oracle, specifically Simone's BOP, but Babs being stuck in that chair when male characters like Bruce exist in the same universe and have similar injuries that are healed by magic, it always felt Babs was being held hostage by the Oracle status quo. It didn't make sense that it wouldn't be reversed in the shared universe she was in, and if she was in-character, she would be Batgirl again at least part of the time if she was able. Nightwng just isn't comparable because Dick got the triumphant arc in Judas Contract, but Babs got injured as an afterthought in a comic that wasn't hers. Plus some may just prefer her as Batgirl, even those that like some Oracle stuff as well.

    What is even the status of Riddler and Croc now? I feel like we don't see anybody clamor for their anti-hero status to return, especially the former. People just don't care about it. Riddler now looks to be a Se7en style serial killer in a mainstream movie, so it doesn't have that much pull

    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Third, I believe misogyny most definitely plays a role in shaping the reaction to how much DC pushes Harley Quinn. She is a visible and uppity woman. The tone and the stridency changes compared to characters like Batman or BWL or Joker. Sexism causes people to think that even if they push Batman (et c) too much, at least they don't take it as a threat.
    Fans of other IPs, especially Superman's, view Batman and the ways he's pushed as a threat all the time.


    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I think nearly everyone here thinks Heroes in Crisis was at best an interesting dumpster fire. But why is only Harley brought up as a character who was written badly anymore, and not Batman or Superman?

    Because that is one way that sexism can express itself: female characters are judged and remembered based on their worst depictions; male characters from their best.
    A casual glance at threads in places like this prove that this doesn't hold up. Batman and Superman fans bemoan how poorly those characters are written all the time. Batman may be the most hated character on his own forum (and how fair that is depends on which version we are talking about). Meanwhile, BTAS Harley is still generally beloved, we have comments like that in this very thread. Or stuff like Harleen.

    What is an example of a criticism of Harley that could be viewed as valid, as in not having sexist readings in it?

  4. #64
    Astonishing Member Nite-Wing's Avatar
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    Bad writing for Harley Quinn is essentially anything where she's the main character or interacting with heroes
    I notice a lot of the people ignorant of her character often say she's just a regular human with a baseball bat which is incorrect and subsequently question what use she has in general ignoring the many other characters that populate the DCU with similar gimmicks

    Not so sensible imo but its less nuanced than people complaining about Batgod or Bruce being a jerk to other characters

    Under those circumstances generally any appearance by a character being considered a negative is a lot harder to actually consider legitimate and not some more of sexism or impropriety

    I mean if Batgirl(any batgirl) suddenly became more popular than Bruce I'd find it hard to believe you wouldn't see the same type of people doing this type of thing all over again

  5. #65
    Incredible Member cgh's Avatar
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    She's basically become a "wacky" humour character and it's tough to write humorous characters well, I think. Personally, I prefer it when it's clear that beneath the sexy exterior (for a certain definition of "sexy"), there's a genuine sinister threat. To see this taken to its logical conclusion, have a look at the Azzarello/Bermejo "Joker" graphic novel. I really wish they'd expand on that world.

  6. #66
    Mighty Member Jman27's Avatar
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    probably due to how popular she is thats how its normally is with these characters. My issue with her is just wondering where her alignment is? Like I heard that she is still under the suicide squad yet she is also a Justice League member? Like in Joker war right now she is clearly team Batman just wondering when she got redeem?
    "He's pure power and doesn't even know it. He's the best of us."-Matt Murdock

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  7. #67
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    I don't know about others, but my distaste for it for her comes from A) how hard they tried to push her into a totally crazy, credible threat that kills kids and then simultaneously we're supposed to think she's oh-so-lovable. You can't have it both ways.

    B) How hard they're shilling her of late, such as beating up the Trinity in two pages and taking over the Birds of Prey where she has no real reason to be on there. Hell, Dinah and Barbara would never be comfortable with her, but she sells so heaven and earth must bend to commerce.

    I also don't love any of the looks she's had until recently. The new looks I've seen for the upcoming costume in comics and The Suicide Squad have looked like the best modern look for her since the classic.

    I like Harley in a vacuum, but when DC is trying to convince me she deserves to be in the Bat Family because she's a survivor, well, bullshit. Survivor or no, she brought great harm onto those people and isn't owed retribution. The Bat Family shouldn't really accept her under any circumstances. But they will and I'll eternally roll my eyes.

    Harley's strange. She really does feel like she gets a pass for abusing others because she was abused herself. It's sad, but while I think it's fine to be sympathetic to victims, that doesn't invalidate the harm they inflict on others and Harley seemingly gets away with actual murder because she's quirky I guess? It doesn't work for me, and I've read a lot with her in it since. I've never really believed her redemption arc. It just comes across as self-preservation, which is great but isn't enough for the BoP/Bat family to ever forgive her. Or it shouldn't.

    I don't have any problem whatsoever with her getting a push. Personally, I think DC has better female characters to push (obviously Wonder Woman, but also Black Canary, Mera, Hawkgirl, etc), but Harley took off with a lot of markets. I don't begrudge them for selecting her. They just never sold me on her redemption arc, and frankly I don't think Ivy is a great match for her simply because Poison Ivy's gimmick has always been dominating people using pheromones and the like, so for the longest time I questioned just how consensual their relationship can really be if Ivy can just influence her subtly, perhaps unconsciously. Ultimately, I do think they care about each other and I'm fine with them, but for a while I thought she traded one kind of controlling relationship for another. Also for the longest time, Ivy got relegated to "Harley's girlfriend and not much else," so as an Ivy fan that really sucked. The relationship only helped Harley out. But yeah, I think they're unable to carve out a niche for Harley that doesn't make me roll my eyes. She's not a good person, nor a hero, so she shouldn't be in hero crowds like the big reaction image in Superman Heroes or operating with the Bat Family.

    If we got a book where Harley had to actually deal with the fallout of how many people she'd hurt and really grew emotionally, I haven't seen it. That would definitely improve my disposition toward her, but her own books are usually just humor books so she's just kind of awful. Hell, as a Power Girl fan all she does is sexually harass PG and get away with it because it's #funny, but never gets any flak for it. Yikes. I wouldn't care as much if she was just straight-up a villain, but that's not the case. Luckily for Harley, PG under Jimmy and Amanda's pen generally rolls her eyes at this sort of thing across the board instead of how most writers have her be more aggressive in rebuking such advances, so it appears PG finds Harley harmless, if a bit annoying.

    Her show is really, really funny, though.
    Last edited by Robanker; 08-25-2020 at 12:38 AM.

  8. #68
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    The Killing Kids thing keep getting brought up but don't everyone agree that's a only a one issue thing that's out of character? I have the same reaction towards that as with everytime they make Dick Grayson promiscuous. Some things are just obviously wrong it shouldn't enter the discussion.

    I agree with them trying to make her edgy with the Suicide Squad. At least the early one. I think everyone can agree with that.

    About powers, with Harley it's hard to gauge because of how inconsistent she's written. Sometimes she's fast enough the Trinity can't do anything, sometimes she's equal to Deadshot, other times Punchline can beat her (but Punchline can beat anyone apparently so that's more of her problem).

  9. #69
    Mighty Member Jman27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    The Killing Kids thing keep getting brought up but don't everyone agree that's a only a one issue thing that's out of character? I have the same reaction towards that as with everytime they make Dick Grayson promiscuous. Some things are just obviously wrong it shouldn't enter the discussion.

    I agree with them trying to make her edgy with the Suicide Squad. At least the early one. I think everyone can agree with that.

    About powers, with Harley it's hard to gauge because of how inconsistent she's written. Sometimes she's fast enough the Trinity can't do anything, sometimes she's equal to Deadshot, other times Punchline can beat her (but Punchline can beat anyone apparently so that's more of her problem).
    oh why did she kills kids and is it still consider canon by DC?
    "He's pure power and doesn't even know it. He's the best of us."-Matt Murdock

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  10. #70
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiegePerilous02 View Post
    The Oracle thing is a bit more complicated than that I feel. For one, Dick's transition to Nightwing doesn't involve a similar event as TKJ, one of the most infamous fridgings in comics. Oracle was wonderfully written damage control for that, but the initial transition away from Batgirl was callous and the Batgirl fans have never taken kindly to it. She had some great runs as Oracle, specifically Simone's BOP, but Babs being stuck in that chair when male characters like Bruce exist in the same universe and have similar injuries that are healed by magic, it always felt Babs was being held hostage by the Oracle status quo. It didn't make sense that it wouldn't be reversed in the shared universe she was in, and if she was in-character, she would be Batgirl again at least part of the time if she was able. Nightwng just isn't comparable because Dick got the triumphant arc in Judas Contract, but Babs got injured as an afterthought in a comic that wasn't hers. Plus some may just prefer her as Batgirl, even those that like some Oracle stuff as well.
    I don't want to bring up all the Babsgirl–Oracle stuff here—we have enough of that in the Barbara Gordon thread—but I want to adress a couple of things.

    First, saying "stuck in that chair" is an ableistic comment that I think diminish Babs in her role as Oracle.

    Second, I'd argue that the Oracle development wasn't "damage control". It wasn't like Ostrander and Yale got the mission to rehabilitate Babs by DC. What they did was taking a discarded character and showing a true recovery, rather than the magical restoration that Batman and others get.

    Third, I'd say that Babs since her return as Batgirl has been far more of a hostage to either her name—"girl"—or to TKJ than Oracle ever was.

    Quote Originally Posted by SiegePerilous02 View Post
    Fans of other IPs, especially Superman's, view Batman and the ways he's pushed as a threat all the time.

    A casual glance at threads in places like this prove that this doesn't hold up. Batman and Superman fans bemoan how poorly those characters are written all the time. Batman may be the most hated character on his own forum (and how fair that is depends on which version we are talking about). Meanwhile, BTAS Harley is still generally beloved, we have comments like that in this very thread. Or stuff like Harleen.

    What is an example of a criticism of Harley that could be viewed as valid, as in not having sexist readings in it?
    It's a difference in how the reaction goes.

    Superman and Batman does multiple stupid things in Heroes in Crisis: the reaction is that they are badly written there, not that Superman and Batman are stupid as characters. Harley Quinn does an overpowered stunt: the reaction is that she is overpowered, not that Tom King wrote a poor plot that required an overpowered stunt from her. Likewise, when Harley Quinn killed kids in New 52, that becomes an established part of her canon rather than being treated as an aberration.

    As for your last question, I think there are two aspects to it. On one hand, near all of us live in a society that has perpetuated misogyny, so it can be real hard to disassociate it, and I think modern developments of alt-right tactics has shown that nearly any type of valid criticism can be twisted and misused for misogynist (or racist) purposes. On another, and as a recommendation, I'd try to (a) have a decent idea on who Harley Quinn is for me, (b) try to understand what vision of Harley Quinn that each particular story wants to evoke, and then frame criticism either firmly on the story as written or discuss how (a) and (b) aren't compatible with each other.

    It's not a cure-all for misogyny, but at least it can help to clean the air.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  11. #71
    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    First, saying "stuck in that chair" is an ableistic comment that I think diminish Babs in her role as Oracle.
    Agreed, I should have phrased that better.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Second, I'd argue that the Oracle development wasn't "damage control". It wasn't like Ostrander and Yale got the mission to rehabilitate Babs by DC. What they did was taking a discarded character and showing a true recovery, rather than the magical restoration that Batman and others get.
    That's still damage control, albeit (like I said) a very well written case of it. The fact that Ostrander and Yale did it themselves without a mission doesn't change that. Like you say, she was a discarded character whose treatment they were appalled by and made the best out of an initial very bad situation. Because the only other option at that time was sending Babs into limbo.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Third, I'd say that Babs since her return as Batgirl has been far more of a hostage to either her name—"girl"—or to TKJ than Oracle ever was.
    It depends on how you look at it. Yeah, she's been in a rut as Batgirl for a while. Oracle at this time has more good runs to her name, but she was running out of gas by the end too. And as great as BOP was, she would usually spend time as a co-lead or as a supporting character to whoever was Batgirl at the time rather than be her own lead.

    And it's just a lousy fan situation that pits two groups against each other. But the Batgirl fans, even the more reasonable ones, are usually painted as the bad guys for stating a preference. Not here mind you, but in general. And no, as underwhelming as a lot of the current Batgirl stuff is, I'd need a lot more convincing to buy that the legacy of TKJ itself is less harmful to her. Look at what it lead to in one instance: a terrible animated adaptation in which she was still greatly reduced as a character.


    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Superman and Batman does multiple stupid things in Heroes in Crisis: the reaction is that they are badly written there, not that Superman and Batman are stupid as characters. Harley Quinn does an overpowered stunt: the reaction is that she is overpowered, not that Tom King wrote a poor plot that required an overpowered stunt from her. Likewise, when Harley Quinn killed kids in New 52, that becomes an established part of her canon rather than being treated as an aberration.
    What about Wonder Woman? She was on the receiving end of that scene too and WW fans were pretty pissed.

    Her stunt getting the reaction it did isn't very different than what Deathstroke did in Identity Crisis, and the reaction it got. It stood out as a particularly stupid and highly visible moment that was designed to put Harley on top at the expense of three fan favorites (some of the biggest) who logically shouldn't have any trouble with her. Combined with how much DC pushes her already, it could have been a breaking point for some even if they otherwise consider it an aberration. Same with the killing kids. That didn't get a good reaction from anybody, but it doesn't go down well when DC tries to also push her as a kooky loveable anti-hero almost at the same time. Or how the movies and their vague canon floats the idea that she helped kill Jason Todd, but we're supposed to be ok with her by the time BoP rolls around. Harley's default setting is basically as a Manson girl, someone who was manipulated by a charismatic monster and is abused by him, and isn't pure evil but it capable of aiding him in evil acts and isn't completely without agency in doing so. People don't want her to be pure evil, but when they push her so much and have the heroes tolerate her it can be immersion breaking. I don't know the specifics, but I've heard similar issues with her in the Injustice comics, which can be particularly grating considering what that whole thing does to characters like Superman and Wonder Woman. It's perhaps not surprising that she reaches "Scrappy" status for some people, some for whom the reasons are more valid than others.

    And HiC aside, we have whole topics devoted to how overpowered and pushed at the expense of other IPs Batman is. And a lot of those are valid. But much like you say with Harley, people don't treat these as abberations or poor writing. You yourself have posted comments about Bruce before that lump all his portrayals into one and that the promblematic aspects are at the core of his character, which I disagree with. Why is it ok to say this about Batman, but some of the motivations for similar exasperation towards what is done with Harley needs to be questioned? And they are often coming from the same people on here. She's an extension of his brand after all. The Batman bashing and fatigue is more prominent and has been around longer than with Harley.

  12. #72
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jman27 View Post
    oh why did she kills kids and is it still consider canon by DC?
    If I remember correctly it was post Death of The Family and she's depressed Joker died and lost purpose, which runs contrary to what previous issues of Suicide Squad established, that after Joker revealed that she's just another one in a long line of hench girls who he murdered, she swore off him.

    The story's never mentioned again and then the popular Harley solo by Palmiotti and Conner started.

  13. #73
    Astonishing Member Nite-Wing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jman27 View Post
    oh why did she kills kids and is it still consider canon by DC?
    It was bad writing
    At the end of the day bad writing effects all characters. If we are forced to acknowledge its canonicity that's fine but its just as easy to ignore because this stuff happens to characters besides Harley
    Wally killed a huge list of named characters in Heroes in Crisis and DC didn't skip a beat and attempt to redeem him 2 months later. This is of course accepted because Wally is a favorite on this forum and viewed as being held down as a character whereas Harley is hated because she is supposedly undeserving of her popularity,push, significance etc

    This mentality is why a good portion of the discourse surrounding Harley comes off as sexist.
    She is too uppity
    She belongs under the Joker to be abused and demeaned
    She is not a role model etc

  14. #74
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    I don't think there's anything sexist with not enjoying villains who haven't gone through a redemption arc being treated like allies by the heroes. Harley makes them money so one day everyone just seemingly absolved her of guilt because she was a victim, nevermind all the people she helped victimize or outright harmed by her own hands.

    It's fair to say the child killer thing was bad writing and should be forgotten since they ignored it, and unlike HiC it wasn't tied to a huge event they pushed, just one very bad issue. I use it as a reference more to illustrate she gets away with that kind of thing all the time and we've never seen her have to walk back or earn her seat at the table of heroes. For all intents and purposes, she left her abuser. That's great. She didn't become a better person or make amends for the thousands she helped murder or those she actively killed by herself.

    She gets to murder with impunity and hang with Batman, Superman and the Birds of Prey. That sucks, and every time it happens I enjoy her less. That shit bothers me regarding of sex, color or creed.
    Last edited by Robanker; 08-25-2020 at 11:48 AM.

  15. #75
    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    I don't think there's anything sexist with not enjoying villains who haven't gone through a redemption arc being treated like allies by the heroes. Harley makes them money so one day everyone just seemingly absolved her of guilt because she was a victim, nevermind all the people she helped victimize or outright harmed by her own hands.

    She gets to murder with impunity and hang with Batman, Superman and the Birds of Prey. That sucks, and every time it happens I enjoy her less. That shit bothers me regarding of sex, color or creed.
    I did very much enjoy the BOP movie itself, I think it's one of the better installments in the DCEU. But although Margot is perfect in the role and I appreciate the intent behind it if it was meant to attract people with Harley and get people into the Birds, it didn't pan out that well. Instead of it was a Harley movie that functioned as a back door pilot for a BOP spin off we most likely will not get unfortunately.

    Not to mention it's just not going to sit completely right that Harley is pushed as the lead in a BOP movie when she has no connected to them in the comics, and the actual main lead (Barbara - as either Oracle or Batgirl) wasn't present. Harley is getting another chance in Suicide Squad, while the Birds are likely not going to be seen again. A noble attempt in intent, but I think BOP as a Harley vehicle is inherently flawed. Maybe Gotham Sirens would have worked better with a crossover with the Birds down the line and pit the two teams against each other.

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