NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Harley Quinn #11
They say that love makes people crazy sometimes, and if that’s the case, then The Joker and Harley Quinn may be the greatest love story of the modern age. From their debut as an item in Batman: The Animated Series to the modern blockbuster romance seen in Suicide Squad, Joker and Harley have cemented their names alongside other killer couples as the comic book version of Bonnie and Clyde (with a lot more puns). But in the current world of the DC Universe, The Joker, like his famous romance, has been hard to spot.
After playing a somewhat final role in Scott Snyder’s Batman run before DC’s “Rebirth” brought new creative teams and stories to most of the publisher’s slate, The Joker returned to the pages of Harley Quinn’s comic series. Far from a loving reunion, the issue saw Harley end their relationship with blood, broken teeth, and more than a few harsh words. Since then, the villain’s absence has left fans wondering what kind of return lay in store. The wait is over, now that Joker has returned to Harley’s comic series once again – and this time, he’s showing a side not many comic fans will be used to seeing.
Has Joker finally become the man Harley always dreamed he could be?
Where We Saw Joker Last
As famous as the couple may be, the days of Joker and Harley Quinn as a romantic items are long over. After Harley eventually came to realize that the abusive relationship wasn’t for the best (coinciding with her rise to super stardom as a mascot of DC Comics), she got her opportunity to give him a final piece of her mind in Harley Quinn #25. After breaking into prison to rescue her new boyfriend, Harley realized that the cellmate who had been filling his head with lies was none other than her former, freakish lover. And stepping into the cell, Harley ended their connection for good.
The pair exchanged violence for a few minutes, with Harley letting Joker know that while their history couldn’t be erased, his hateful, manipulative, belittling behavior had gotten old, fast. It was a case of Joker at his most vindictive and cruel, mocking Harley and refusing to accept that she had grown beyond his former plaything and punching bag. Harley wound up beating him to the bloodier pulp, leaving him on the floor of his cell as she finally realized why Batman stopped playing his games long ago.
Joker Returns – For Harley Quinn?
Since then, it’s been relatively smooth sailing – since, for Harley Quinn, battling zombies and fighting Superman in an intergalactic boxing match is nothing to stress over. But just as the major threats seemed to be slowing down for a time, Harley arrived to her Coney Island home to find a surprise waiting for her: The Joker. In the flesh, on her bed, and with one of her beloved pets cradled in his arms. But instead of jumping back into their fight, Joker had a different proposition: to get something off of his chest – and no “funny stuff” this time.
Harley is understandable suspicious, but that only provides Joker another opportunity to be a more caring, considerate person than he’s ever known to be. Seeing how much he’s thrown his former lover, he retreats, claiming a meeting during the day, in public, would set her more at ease. The sudden return of Harley’s flame is of particular interest to Red Tool – her current partner in crime and Deadpool homage… not to mention hopelessly infatuated mercenary and contract killer. Bumping into Joker as he makes his exit from Harley’s place has Red Tool fearing the worst, but Harley hasn’t been harmed in the slightest. It’s only her confidence that’s been shaken.
After dispatching a giant monstrous squid beast, Harley returns home to get plenty of beauty rest before finding out just what Joker has in store if it isn’t his typical trickery. Red Tool remains suspicious, and despite Harley’s reassurances, takes it upon himself to sabotage her alarm clock – and meet Joker himself.
Needless to say, it’s probably a bad move on the well-meaning welp’s part. But as most DC fans know, a disappointed Joker is a frightening one… at least, that used to be the case. We suppose it works just as well for Red Tool to discover how much the villain has actually changed, and standing in between he and Harley with implied threats is as much a test as anything else. But pay attention, doubters: Joker arrived at the arranged meeting place, in broad daylight, surrounded by people, flowers in hand. Who knows: maybe DC’s Department of Corrections finally did the impossible?
The coming issues have teased a competition between the two for Harley’s affection, and even an apparent proposal from Joker himself. It’s hard to picture Harley’s solo comic series continuing if he rekindles her romance with a reformed Joker, but as is usually the case in her corner of the DC Universe, absolutely anything is possible. Whether fans will embrace a Joker who’s put his cruelty behind him for the sake of a good woman (a good, bad, crazy woman) remains to be seen.
What do you think? Should Joker put his abusive attitude behind him, and realize that landing a gal like Harley is more than most heroes can hope for? Or should he steer clear her solo series altogether?
Harley Quinn #11 is available now.