Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'd like some puddin' please.

Don't you love that feeling when you read a book or see a movie, and it just totally resonates with you? Well, I had that experience yesterday as I read some issues that have been sitting in my "to be read" pile. Those issues were Gotham City Sirens #5-9.

First and foremost, it is not like I have just let these issues build up for five months without reading them. I recently changed comic stores, and Sirens was one of the titles that my old store could not get in stock even though I poked and prodded and asked them to order it. Now that I go to Dark Tower Comics here in Chicago, I have been able to fill in all of the issues that I have been missing. In the case of Sirens, I was missing issues #5 and #6. Now armed with five months worth of issues, I put them in the messenger bag I bring to work and decided to spend my lunch with the ladies of Gotham City. It actually was hard to have to wait to read these because I loved the first four issues (I have even blogged about the series before), but now I get my chance to dive in.

There is a reason that I bring all this up and the reason is Harley Quinn. I have always liked Harley but these issues showed that her character is more multifaceted than I think a lot of people would realize. Harley is not just the Joker's sidekick any more. Despite her festive costume and her one-liners, when you break her down, Quinn is a truly tragic anti-hero seeking penance for past wrongdoings. The tragedy starts with her origin. Most people know that Harley was created by Paul Dini specifically for "Batman: the Animated Series." What they may not know is that Dini created a back story for Harley once she made the transition to the comics, and it is a back story that almost breaks your heart. Even though she was able to go to college on a gymnastics scholarship and eventually became a prominent psychiatrist, Harley's horrible home life and dead beat, criminal father scarred her mentally and made her easy pickings for the Joker and his corruption. Today, Dini writes her as this smart, educated woman trapped in the mind of a mistreated child. What makes her even more tragic is that even though now that she wants to fight the good fight and make amends for what she's done, she is still in love with "her puddin'." The Joker is Harley's tragic flaw, and for me, that makes her a complex character worthy of reading about. What I am getting at is that when she's written well, Harley Quinn is an amazing character that gets forgotten due to her past sidekick status and television roots.

Gotham City Sirens is an under appreciated gem that I worry will not last long. I totally admit that I'm writing about it right now partially due to the selfish fact that I want the book to continue so I can continue to read it. But I can't be the only one that enjoys this, right? If you like the Batman family, why in the world wouldn't you give this book a chance? Issue #9 is an excellent jumping on point with the girls hiring the Riddler to help them with a mystery that literally fell into their laps (or should I say, fell into their pool). Go out and pick it up. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

1 comment:

garbo in paint said...

I disagree with you a few points - both the 'tragedy' of her origin as presented in GCS and her 'sidekick' status (she isn't a sidekick and never really has been).

So if you're interested and feel like reading some rambly fan meta thoughts, here's a couple of things I've written about this stuff. I'm a big Harley fan too and I feel it's often the fans who don't give her her due: