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Ten Moments that Mattered: Harley Quinn Turns Twenty-Five

Ten Moments that Mattered: Harley Quinn Turns Twenty-Five

By Tim Beedle Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Has it been a year already? 2017 has reached its end, but before we dive into 2018, we’d like to take a moment and look back. For DC fans, 2017 was a remarkable year in comics, film and TV. Our characters reached new milestones and audiences, our writers and artists achieved remarkable new heights and our universe continued to grow in surprising new ways. And yet, within it all, several moments stood out for their importance and relevance. Some of them were groundbreaking, others were a welcome return. All of them are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration. In a year in which fans had much to talk about, these are the moments we’ll continue to talk about well beyond the new year. These are DCComics.com’s “Ten Moments that Mattered in 2017.”
 

In some ways, it’s more amazing that she’s only twenty-five, our maid of mayhem who has staked her claim in Gotham and in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. Yet, this year Harley Quinn celebrated her 25th Anniversary, a milestone that was marked with an animated movie, comic book special and graphic novel collection, a day celebrating her (appropriately enough, stolen from Batman) and a robust slate of action figures, toys, collectibles and clothing, ensuring that anyone who wanted to celebrate Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s big year would have everything they needed to paint the town red and black.

Unlike many of the heroes and villains who have joined the DC Universe over the years, Harley Quinn feels timeless. Conceived in 1992 for Batman: The Animated Series by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm as a sidekick and comedic foil for the Joker, Harley’s moved beyond that supporting role and more frequently appears without the Joker these days than with him. But the fact that she’s accomplished so much throughout her relatively young life is testament to her importance as a character.

A quarter century later, Harley has become nearly as recognizable as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern, characters who have existed for three times as long. Her popularity has arguably eclipsed that of the Joker, the man she was initially created to support, and her role has transcended that of a simple hero or villain to something far more complex that shares elements of both. But even that is only scratching the surface of what Harley Quinn has become.

As a popular comic book frontwoman who often acts badly and makes questionable, if not downright terrible, decisions, Harley brings diversity to DC’s female-fronted slate. (She’s currently the only female non-hero with her own solo title.) Maintaining both a physical and emotional relationship with her slightly-more-than-a-bestie Poison Ivy, she’s become an icon of the LGBTQ community as well. As someone who both diagnoses and suffers from mental health conditions, she serves as a lighthouse for advocates of mental health awareness. And perhaps most surprising of all, she’s become extremely popular with our youngest fans due to her mischievous role as a DC Super Hero Girl.

To evolve into all of that within 25 years is impressive, and might explain why Harley feels like she’s been around for longer. But we suspect there may be even more to it than that. For a character who feels like she could have been created in the Silver Age, Harley is inarguably one of the most modern and forward-thinking women around. In a society where women are even now far too often defined in entertainment by their relationship to men, Harley has left her man behind and forged her own warped path. She’s a friend to the strange, pathetic and misunderstood. An animal activist, she’s a champion of the helpless and innocent. And as a character who straddles the line between hero and villain, she doesn’t need to take the higher road, and reminds us that in fact, it’s often more fun when you don’t. She may very well be a psychopath, but she’s an endearingly relatable one.

While characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman may be ideals to strive toward, Harley tells us that it’s okay to be our own warped, insane, not-always-perfect selves. For 25 years, she’s been a stark reminder that the good, the bad and the crazy lives in us all.


Be sure to check DCComics.com again tomorrow for another Moment that Mattered in 2017.

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