New 52

Costume Couture: Harley Quinn Spotlight

Harley Quinn has quickly become one of the most recognizable and iconic DC Comics characters even though she’s only been around since 1992. As a character who debuted in Batman: The Animated Series, she’s had to overcome her non-comic book origin but has done so with flying colors… at least, black, red, and white.

This week, we discuss many of her different looks over the years from her original debut, her Margot Robbie Suicide Squad version, Injustice video games, and more. Then we talk about some of our favorite Harley Quinn cosplayers like Jessica Nigri, Triple Diamond Entertainment, Thousand Faces Cosplay, just to name a few.

Hosted by
Rae of SirynRae Cosplay
Ian of Haus of Turner Cosplay

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Costume Couture: Harley Quinn Spotlight

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 1

Suicide Squad is the most successful August movie in history and it brought many characters unfamiliar to non-comic audiences to the front of pop culture conversation. In the wake of all the buzz, more people than ever are asking “who is Harley Quinn?” Almost anyone with a little geek knowledge can tell you she’s the Joker’s moll, but it’s a much more complicated question than that, fraught with questions of morality, violence, romanticization, sexualization, and perhaps most of all, love. We took the time out to really analyze these issues by viewing them through the lens of what turned out to be a surprisingly large section of comics audiences: Harley Quinn fans who also identified as victims of abuse.

Few characters capture the imagination of on-screen and comic audiences quite like the Joker. He is the longest-standing comic villain and has the most iterations of any of Batman’s rogue gallery, from the big screen to the small. Since the popularity of Batman: The Animated Series, fans have found pleasure in pairing the Clown Prince of Crime with a partner: Harley Quinn. Originally intended to be a one-off henchwoman, Harley was written by Paul Dini and designed by Bruce Timm in 1992. Quinn only appeared in nine episodes to her beau’s 15, but her iconic appearance, personality, and voice has lived on for over 20 years. Quinn has found herself the star of multiple spin-off comics and found further success in the New 52. For comic fans, Harley may be DC’s brightest star. For cosplayers, the Joker and Harley Quinn have found themselves to be two of the most-imitated characters in the Batverse. This success, however, isn’t without it’s critics.

The characters do not have what anyone in their right mind would call a healthy relationship. Harleen Quinzel became Harley Quinn to appease the man she loved, a love most would agree is built around Joker’s manipulation and Harley’s attraction to the psychologically extreme. In 1994’s “Mad Love”, their relationship was explored and given both a back story and a bottom line: love is not always kind, or sane. Harley was a young, capable doctor with no history of crime or mental issues prior to meeting Mr. J. Joker throws Harley out a window, and all it takes is a note attached to some flowers sent to her hospital room to take Harley from “never again” to “whenever he wants.”

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Harley’s standalone comics have seen her pairing up (read: sometimes shacking up) with other DC characters, with Poison Ivy often stepping in to fill the clown’s squeaky shoes. Ivy occasionally perpetuates her own brand of manipulation, but she is definitely more of a straight shooter, and is shown to both outwardly care for and reciprocate the feelings of Quinn. In other words, since her inception, Harley has been familiar with abuse, mental, emotional, and physical.

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That isn’t to say that Harley doesn’t do her own share of violent things to the ones she cares for. Joker may often take the prize at “most manipulative,” but Harley was a gymnast, and has shown herself to be a capable foe physically. She is also  powered up by Ivy in both the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy” and during “No Man’s Land”, gaining extra strength and agility as well as an immunity to poisons. When the Joker sets her off, it isn’t the Dark Knight she is taking out her aggression on.

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So, who would find these two appealing? Apparently, a lot of DC’s audience. Harley and Joker as a pair are some of the most sought after DC collectibles, and Alex Ross’ recent work, titled “Mind If I Cut In?” depicts the couple seconds after the Caped Crusader steps in on their now-classic pose. The print goes for upwards of $900 dollars and fans seem willing to spend it. Retail stores like Hot Topic sell merchandise of both “Mad Love” and Alex Ross’ work, as well as other products that depict the particularly toxic duo’s relationship as something to be admired.

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This depiction, as well as countless works of fan art and fiction, has drawn criticism from those who feel that the relationship and it’s romanticization is a detriment to readers. Opposing remarks can be found about couples who cosplay as the grinning lovers. Detractors say that romanticizing the two is a detriment to those who have had abusive relationships, and that cosplay is idolization of a dangerous, problematic pairing. Some have went as far as to say that, if you do not have a history of abuse, you can’t enjoy them.

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Negative representations of relationships skewed to be romantic aren’t new. Romeo and Juliet have been criticized for pushing dangerous versions of love since long before New York accents and definitely prior to Paul Dini giving one to a girl dressed like a harlequin. “There is tons of violence in Shakespeare, there is nothing wrong with enjoying/appreciating it because it is  just art. Just like comics are art,” said Andrew Arkham Cosplay.

So, who are these fans? How do these people deal with the idea that their beloved couple might be a poor example for relationships? We spoke to Joker and Harley cosplayers about their interest in the characters, their history with relationships, and if, and where, the two meet. Trigger warning for anyone reading who might find discussions of abuse, both mental and physical difficult, as this is a discussion with abuse victims about their experience and the ways in which they have found to deal with their past.

Next week, we continue our series of interviews with cosplayers and dive into the world of fictional abuse and it’s significance in real world affinity for characterization. Tune in Monday for more.

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 1

Suicide Squad Trailer Review

The second trailer for the highly anticipated DC/Warner Brothers movie titled Suicide Squad dropped recently and has the internet all in a buzz. From what this trailer has shown us, this movie looks to not only be very faithful with how the Suicide Squad comic and characters are now in the New 52 universe, but to also have a good amount of humor and some very intense action scenes along with a lot of the squad’s characters’ origins being told throughout. This trailer utilizes Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” throughout with quick cuts of action, characters interacting with one another, humor, and with Harley Quinn having the last line in the trailer which is, “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.” as she smashes a window that she passes to take a purse she wanted. This trailer gave us a even closer look to some of the fan favorite characters like Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Enchantress and of course The Joker. What was nice about this trailer is that we still don’t know 100% what the story for this movie even is.

We know that Amanda Waller assembles the team to stop a powerful force from rising up and taking over the world. This makes me believe, along with a lot of people on the internet that it will be the Suicide Squad vs. The Enchantress and her demon minions. That alone should make a very cool and fun story to watch, but add in The Joker and who knows where this movie will lead. DC was taking a gamble with this movie and how the tone of it is but I can see it paying off big time. This movie will not only introduce us to a new portrayal of The Joker, (which we haven’t seen on screen since The Dark Knight) but a lot of characters’ first time in a DC movie all together, which is most, if not all the squad members. If this movie does well, then we can for sure see a second one in the mix or even solo outings for certain characters. This trailer for sure pumped me up for this movie; the first teaser shown at SDCC last year got me curious, but this got me full blown interested to see how DC will pull off bringing the infamous Suicide Squad to the big screen this year. Be sure to check out the posters and trailer down below and let us know what you think about the Suicide Squad movie. Will it meet your expectations?

Suicide Squad Posters

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Suicide Squad Trailer

Suicide Squad arrives in theaters and IMAX August 5th, 2016.

 

Suicide Squad Trailer Review