WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman: White Knight #3
Batman: White Knight just dropped the biggest twist on Harley Quinn in years, turning the classic Harley and the new Suicide Squad version into two completely different women. It's a bombshell that will ring true for the older fans who always preferred the jester-suited Harleen Quinzel of Batman's animated series to the more scantily-clad, downright psychotic version born in DC's New 52 Universe. And even if the explanation for the shift in design isn't 'canon' just yet, the early acclaim for such an inspired twist may be accepted sooner than later.
That's already becoming the trademark for Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth's White Knight, a series created to show the battle for Gotham from The Joker's point of view. The first issue saw Joker cured of his homicidal lunacy, but it's the return of his original Harley Quinn that shows the true scope of the series. If Joker-- sorry, Jack Napier is a man of two distinct identities, then these Harley Quinns make up... four. And none of them should be discounted as a 'fake' character just yet.
Whichever version you might prefer, it's time to get to know Dr. Harleen Quinzel and Marian Drews - the TWO women to call themselves 'Joker's Girlfriend.'
Marian Drews, The 'Imposter' Harley
First things first: yes, 'Marian Drews' is yet another play on the clown motif, with both merry-andrew and harlequin meaning someone who "clowns" for entertainment. But even if Murphy makes the distinction between the two women from the start, Joker doesn't. When freed from prison on trumped-up charges and finally the man Harley always dreamed he could be, he heads to her apartment - coming face to face with the modern incarnation. Showing plenty of skin, a frail grasp on the reality of the situation, and a preoccupation with sex (all criticisms of the modern incarnation of Harley), Jack's apology and marriage proposal are met with disgust and denial.
Harley doesn't want Jack: she wants Joker. And as much as fans might take offense at the implicit bias, Murphy's depiction of Harley isn't far from her personality in DC's ongoing Harley and Suicide Squad comics. To her, there's never a reason to desire anything but chaos. And judging by the 'J' on her belt buckle, she takes pride and pleasure from her total devotion to the madman called Joker. He was broken and brutal, just like her.
The scene is short-lived, but as Murphy explained on Twitter, Marian's story is far from over. She may not be the original Harley from Batman: The Animated Series... but there's no reason fans can't have both:
"I'm a massive fan of Harley, but I was unnerved to see my 8 year old niece wearing a "Property of Joker" jacket. One goal of White Knight was to evolve the Harley mythos while giving both Classic Harley fans and newer Suicide Harley fans something they'd love."
Harleen Quinzel, The 'Original' Returns
When the modern 'Suicide Harley' reacts to Jack's diamond ring by kicking him in the chest - disgusted that Joker would refer to her as his "puddin" - her cruelty is rewarded with a kick to her own head... delivered by the real Harley Quinn. The one that Jack was actually looking for after walking out of prison: the one who loved him for the man he was underneath the insanity and crime, not because of it. Having sought out this rehabilitated Joker on her own, Dr. Harleen Quinzel has come to see it for herself. And even as Marian berates Harley for having "left" at some point in the past, leaving Joker all to her, she helps the former man of her dreams stagger back to her meager, normal apartment.
From the first scene, it's impossible to overlook that the sane Jack and eccentric Harleen are equals. As Jack sits in disbelief that he could forget her, that he could do the unspeakable things in his past, and even now feel Joker scratching at the edges of his mind, Harley is neither surprised, nor spurned. As her account of their relationship reveals, Jack's descent into the Joker, and his obsession with Batman leaving no room for her in his world was easy to see. She's a psychiatrist, after all.
But that was the past. And with Jack now looking to put his energy to better uses, and appreciate Harley as a powerful ally in turning Gotham City to their ambitions, anything is possible. But then... this is still a Batman story. So as much as Jack may claim that he and Harley will be playing the "good guys," their love of some fun is what brought them together. And what's more fun than pulling the strings of Gotham's criminal community?
Something tells us Marian isn't the type to give her man up easily, either...
Batman: White Knight #2 is available now.
Source: Sean Murphy