ByZane E Sanders, writer at
Writer, movie lover, with a Marvel focus. Podcast "The Gospel According to Marvel" on iTunes. Follow me on twitter: @zaneEsanders
Zane E Sanders

Suicide Squad comes out in less than a month, so we're diving into the comic book history of its main characters to prepare for their live-action adventure and discover some of their essential storylines. Here's the lowdown on that lovable jester, Harley Quinn.

Dive into the comic book history of the Suicide Squad characters here!

Harley Quinn Began As Dr. Harleen Quinzel

Harley talking with the Joker in prison.
Harley talking with the Joker in prison.

Before the dawn of the character that fans have come to know as Harley Quinn, Dr. Harleen Quinzel was an up-and-coming psychiatrist working at Arkham — Gotham City's asylum for criminally insane criminals. So how did a promising doctor end up palling around with the underbelly of Batman's rouge gallery? The Joker, of course.

Harley Quinn Adores The Joker

Love at first kill.
Love at first kill.

As the Joker's primary psychiatrist, the inexperienced doctor became consumed with the the Jester of Genocide's depraved mind. This obsession soon led to manipulation as the Joker drove the good doctor into a madness that allowed him to control her. Falling madly in love with the Clown Prince of Crime, Dr. Quinzel broke him out of Arkham and dedicated her life to fulfilling his every genocidal desire. She is most frequently seen as both a collaborator and lover to the Harlequin of Hate.

Harley's Powers

Harley Quinn is the female embodiment of chaos and a singularly dangerous adversary as she is extremely powerful, cunningly nimble and severely unpredictable in a fight. With her added immunity over most toxins and poisons, she is willing to do — and everything — to advance the Joker's goals. Perhaps her greatest power is knowing no bounds in her dedication to the Joker, even if that means bringing harm to others or herself.

The Joker Isn't The Only One She Has Teamed-up With

Surprise team-up!
Surprise team-up!

While Harley Quinn is primarily associated with the Joker, she has also been known to ally herself with others when it suits her. When not on the Suicide Squad, her team-ups have been with Power Girl, Catwoman, Deadshot, and Poison Ivy, from whom she obtained the anti-toxin that gives her intensified strength and agility, as well as immunity to most toxins.

Harley Quinn Was Sort Of An Accident

With her first appearance in the Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn was only supposed to be "walk-on" female sidekick for the Joker; however, she was so popular that in the end she was brought over to the Batman comics. She first appeared on the pages of the main DC Universe comics in Batman: Harley Quinn in the late '90s but has been a mainstay ever since.

Major Storylines For Harley Quinn

After her success in the animated series, along with her subsequent addition to the Batman comic canon, a Harley Quinn monthly series was published for 38 issues which dealt with her going solo, starting a gang and heading to Metropolis with Poison Ivy. Like many characters in the comics ,she experiences death, resurrection, and the eventual return to her hometown of Gotham.

Finally understanding her serious need for help, the series ends with Harley giving herself up and experiencing the patient side of the asylum. Harley got a major update when the New 52 reboot happened, featuring an exposing costume, hair that is half-red and half-black (much like the jester cap of her previous costume), and bleached skin (the product of being knocked into a tank of acid by the Joker).

The New 52 version of Harley Quinn.
The New 52 version of Harley Quinn.

Some other major storylines show her involvement with various teams: Secret Society of Super Villains, Secret Six, Suicide Squad, Gotham City Sirens, and a partnership with Power Girl. Hilariously, at one time, there was a Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover and Harley was turned into a mutant hyena by the Shredder — not sure how much canon is involved there, but it definitely happened.

Suicide Squad is set for release on August 5.


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