Harley Quinn: a CBU Roundtable Discussion

harley-quinn-25th-anniversary-coverby The Comic Book Underground

It’s been recently revealed that HARLEY QUINN will be celebrating her 25th year of existence in September with a HARLEY QUINN 25th Anniversary Special #1 one-shot on September 6th.

Dubbed by DC Comics co-publisher JIM LEE as “the fourth pillar of our publishing line, behind SUPERMAN, BATMAN and WONDER WOMAN,” (a quote courtesy of VULTURE magazine), Ms. Quinn has come a long way from her humble start on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992.

Our very on HOWARD THE DUCK himself, JOHN RAZUMICH sparked off a roundtable discussion on Saturday, June 17, 2017 about everyone’s favorite bat-shit crazy character. Here it is in the CBU tradition with flagrant and unfiltered opinions.

John Razumich: Exactly when was the decision made to slut her up? She was still wearing her jester costume when she had her first series, and that was pre-Flashpoint. I got out of comics for a while there, but once I got back she was everywhere and dressed, even by comic book standards, like a streetwalker.


Steve Damm: Um you mean free spirited and empowered right?


John: Sure. Because apparently naked = empowered. I’m hardly the best friend of what passes for feminism these days, but even I have to wonder if promiscuity = power is really the best message to send to girls.


Steve: I think the fact she is a villain usually gives license to forgo role models and norms and be “naughty”. Of Course some would argue that there is nothing indecent at all with the clothing and it is merely the result of a patriarchal system of standards. If this is the case then they play into those very traps by making the bad girl dressed this way. Idk, I am a white middle-aged guy, I probably don’t get an opinion.


Dimitrios Fragiskatos: HARLEY QUINN started off as a supporting character, meant to fulfill a supporting role in the animated series. It’s amazing that we were alive to witness the character transform, into a character that means something. Our generation never got to experience someone like Batman, who went from shooting supervillains in the face in their sleep to an anti-gun symbol.


Stephane Trahan: A topic like this will get us trashed by young readers. I always found the under-dressed female look silly and non-practical, even back when RED SONJA or VAMPIRELLA made their first appearances. For ladies like WONDER WOMAN, SUPERGIRL, SHE-HULK or other such women it is fine to dress lightly, but without super-dense skin you should not.

My thing is simple, if your dress code is not practical for combat you should be dressed differently.


Dimitrios: Outside of DARWIN COOKE’s CATWOMAN, there is no practical outfit in comics, at all.


Stephane: SUSAN STORM did not usually look slutty, but was always a great female hero.


Jessica Hugehy: Sex sells. Men have rippling muscles and ooze with virility. Women are half naked and curvy. HARLEY QUINN was first created on an animated series aimed for children; I don’t feel like she was originally meant to be a sex symbol so her costume was much more fun, buuuuuuut nothing is sacred, lol. I think the jester suit was super cute, and I agree that there are a LOT of super trashy and gross costumes that she’s had to wear. Some of them are spawned by our current pop culture and hyper-fashion. There are plenty of instances where that skin-tight jester suit showed off plenty (depending on the artist).

On the other hand, they’ve worked really hard giving Harley her own identity and independence. So I think the question that really should be asked (imho) is would the character dress like that? I can see why some don’t like the “slutty” or “trashy” outfits, but to be completely honest, as an amateur artist I love to draw women in revealing clothing. It’s fantasy and escapism.

And would a man who wants to be taken seriously really wear something that looks like briefs on the outside of their suit?


John: They’re trunks! Not briefs!


Jessica: Don’t trunks come down a /little/ lower on the thighs? I mean, I’m not an expert in men’s underwear or anything but . . . LOL


John: Circus strongmen, from who the trunks were taken back in the Golden Age, had them up high enough to cover their belly buttons. Plus, they break up an otherwise monochrome unitard.


Jessica: And now my browser history just got a whole lot more interesting for the day, lol.


Brandon Rucker: HARLEY QUINN’s presented more as an antihero than true villain these days, actually. Kinda like CATWOMAN. Both have become protagonists rather than purely antagonists.


James Lawrence: She’s reformed yes but still presented as bat shit crazy which is why I think all of her different looks are appropriate for the character. If CATWOMAN dressed like that, then I’d think that it was ridiculous.


Brandon: Good point. And I also think that “bat shit crazy” angle helps them transition her into a sympathetic character.


Gabriel Guerrero: No one expects an electro buzzer handshake if they’re distracted by headlights.

I agree with JESSICA, there have been one or two outfits that I thought were a bit much because like BRANDON mentioned, it was a crossover where she was playing the nice antihero. But in the end I see it as JAMES does, she’s crazy.

Also I think we need to acknowledge that the comics can’t do anything about cosplay, fan art, and one-off books/movies. I’m looking at you GODS AND MONSTERS HARLEY QUINN.


Michael Tennant: The only Harley I read is by Palmiotti and Connor because they are awesome. I never really think of their version as slutty but each to their own. Oh and I avoid any Joker-Harley.


Sean McPhillimy Taylor: For me, just make the costume make sense, whether male or female. I mean, I would argue that Wonder Woman has as revealing a costume as any female character, and it has actually never made sense to me, but at this point it is so iconic, cool.

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