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Thursday, September 14, 2023 

Polygon fluff-coats Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy

What a surprise. The dreadful Polygon entertainment site is fawning over Harley Quinn's addition to the newest Birds of Prey series, written by Kelly Thompson:
Writer Kelly Thompson knew that the most controversial member of her Batman-adjacent Birds of Prey team would be Harley Quinn. That would seem strange to anyone familiar with the movie of the same name, which owes its existence to Harley Quinn actor Margot Robbie. Robbie parlayed her clout as a Suicide Squad breakout into a girl gang film, and as it was DC’s only all-female superhero team, the Birds of Prey was the natural fit.

But here’s the thing: Harley has never actually been on the comic book version of the Birds of Prey, until now. And despite the movie precedent, Thompson still expected Harley’s spot on the team to cause the biggest commotion. “Harley is definitely the most divisive,” she told ComicBook.com in July. “She’s sort of got the most fans, but she also has the most haters.”
Well let's put it this way. Quinn may have originally been created as a psychology specialist who was hypnotized by the Joker in Batman's animated TV show of the early 1990s, and took up a life of crime as a result of his influence, but the way she's been depicted ever since, as a lethal criminal, is very appalling, and doesn't make her suited to be a member of the team originally developed by Chuck Dixon. Maybe Quinn could be recreated as somebody more on the honest side, who isn't a murderess or a criminal, but for now, the status quo DC goes by is totally crapped up and irritating. Putting aside for a moment that DC long lost direction, are we really supposed to accept the rendition of Quinn as it is now? And seriously, for a character who may have been created as coming from Jewish background years before, there's something awfully wrongheaded about depicting a female character with such an ethnic background as a nasty criminal, especially if they have no intention of depicting a male Jewish character that way by contrast. Oh, and curious no mention the BoP movie was a failure, though admittedly, at least in part due to the Coronavirus crisis.
And if you’re a Harley Quinn hater, you probably feel like you’re seeing her everywhere. There’s her self-titled cartoon show, wrapping up its fourth season, as well as her ongoing self-titled comic series, her monochrome anthology series Harley Quinn Black + White + Red, her guest appearances in series like Poison Ivy and Dark Knights of Steel, multiple tie-in miniseries set in the show’s continuity, and tons of DC’s YA graphic novels and Black Label books.
If anything, it would seem as though Harley, much like the Joker, to say nothing of Batman himself, has been pushed and shoved down everyone's throats no matter the cost, even though nothing's been done to retcon her into a more law-abiding character sans criminal record, if they really believe this character first seen in animation's got potential. And on the subject of the comic issue in focus:
Our story is a classic: Black Canary’s estranged sister is in secret, deadly danger, and she’s got to put a secret, near-deadly team together. She gets her top draft picks: Batgirl (the one who was raised as a silent assassin), Big Barda (alien warrior demigod), and Zealot. The problem, raised in the opening pages of the book, is that Canary needs someone “in the ‘$@#% your pants’ category of dangerous but also impeccably trustworthy and good.” She winds up having to settle for one out of three, and she’s not happy about it.

That’s because Black Canary is a Harley Quinn hater — and in a fun injection of tension, Birds of Prey knows that she’s wrong.

Canary, the book’s most stand-up hero, the one with a legacy reaching all the way back to the Justice Society, isn’t willing to trust Harley. But Harley? The reformed henchwoman murderess in ride-or-die love with full-on supervillain Poison Ivy? All she needs to hear is that the job is to rescue a 16-year-old girl.

Canary isn’t willing to trust Harley with her sister, but Harley’s willing to trust all of them for a complete stranger.
In that case, no wonder realists can't trust the reviewer. How fascinating there's acknowledgement of Harley's established background as a lethal lunkhead, yet no objectivity or clear questions whether somebody with a murder record should be accepted as a member of a heroic team, even on a brief basis. She even tries to justify the topic with the following:
The comic lore here, which Thompson leaves succinctly unsaid, is that all of Canary’s other picks have skeletons just as big as Harley’s in their own closets. Zealot is a millennia-old alien who’s dating a mercenary; Batgirl was raised to murder with her bare hands; and Big Barda used to be the foremost warrior of a god of fascism. At what point does Harley get to be redeemed like them? Is it when she disavows her ecoterrorist girlfriend? Is it when she acts like a hero? Talks all serious like a hero? Shows the proper respect to real heroes?

This is the modern question of Harley Quinn, one that the Harley Quinn cartoon, and her own series, and her appearances in Poison Ivy, and many others, are wrestling with. If Harley isn’t a villain anymore, but Poison Ivy is, what has to change about Ivy’s calling? How long can we have Harley doing heroics before she stops being an outsider to the superhero community? How does the caustic bite, manic tone, and survivor’s grit that made Harley compelling in the first place survive that transition? And if she never becomes an insider, what does that say about the superheroes giving her the cold shoulder?
Odd she doesn't make clear the Batgirl in query is Cassandra Cain, who'd been indoctrinated as a child into working as an assassin. Certainly, there are moral questions to be asked about whether Bruce Wayne should've taken a character who may have slain more than one person under his wing, but with Harley, what she was portrayed doing was a lot more blatant, and that's why it's disturbing we're being hammered with this stupefying propaganda. Which reminds me, lest we forget the time over a decade ago when Geoff Johns depicted Sinestro becoming a Green Lantern again, his own criminal offenses notwithstanding, which include the time towards the end of the 2nd GL volume where he slaughtered survivors of Kilowog's alien race. Resurrecting Sinestro from the dead does nothing to alleviate that. And, there's also Lobo's post-1994 background to consider, where he was established as having wiped out much of his own race. Yet he's considered even so much as an anti-hero? Please.
Not great things, says Birds of Prey #1. But that’s the thing about #1 issues — they don’t have to answer questions, they just have to raise some interesting ones. Back in 2020, Yan and Robbie weren’t satisfied with just one bite at the Harley Quinn apple either, and as of last year, James Gunn seemed confident that Harley would be a part of the new direction of DC Films as well. But while Hollywood waits to dig into Harley’s potential, DC Comics is busy doing the work.
Which no sane person need finance with their hard-earned money. I'm sorry, but this is no excuse for what they're doing, and at this point, it's hopeless, and a waste of trees. At this point, there's no potential for Harley Quinn, and simultaneously, they refuse to explore the potential of civilian co-stars who could provide far better wellsprings than a costumed protagonist can.

And since we're on the topic of too much attention lavished upon crooks, Polygon also published this puff piece about G'Nort's Swimsuit Edition a few weeks ago, where they pointed out how Poison Ivy factors into what's otherwise ill-advised to buy. And they even have the gall to start off like this:
The idea of a “superhero swimsuit” is admittedly redundant. A lot of them are practically wearing swimwear anyway! But that’s the scintillating irony at the heart of the superhero swimsuit special: Everybody knows this is kind of ridiculous from the get-go, so why not have fun?
"Admittedly"? Well they certainly do know how to employ propaganda that doesn't leave room for debate. Especially when in the past decade, there was a quite a bit of sex-negative propaganda going around, and such an angle is still prevalent today, if the above is any suggestion. Admitting many heroines of yesteryear wear swimsuit variations does little to alleviate concerns of propaganda being pushed now. Not to mention not everyone knows this is "ridiculous", nor do they know how to appreciate fun. Specifically, sex-negative leftists. Polygon got quotes from a few of the artists/writers involved, and the following comes up:
Sweeney Boo: It’s all about shapes, what’s flattering but not boring, and sexy without being outrageous. For Poison Ivy, I wanted to do something flowy, with movement, just like a plant!
There may have been crooks present in the 5 Marvel Swimsuit specials of the 1990s, but if we take the Kingpin and Dr. Doom as examples, they were mocked. In any event, crooks are otherwise unsuited for swimsuit admiration. I notice one of the artists is somebody who'd worked on IDW's adaptations of My Little Pony, and one must wonder if the above vision would apply to heroines as it does here to a villainess. If not, then something is most terribly wrong here. Here's another artist who contributed an Ivy artwork:
Artist Jen Bartel crafted this centerfold poster of Poison Ivy, one of three randomly selected centerfolds that readers will find stapled into their copy of G’nort’s Swimsuit Edition. [...]
And again, I gotta wonder what's so special about Pamela Isley, any more than Harley Quinn, that makes her suited for this kind of stuff? It's especially angering if and when the villainess looks sexier in the finished product than the heroines do. I can't accept that kind of twisted thinking. So long as Catwoman isn't established as what Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are, Selina Kyle will be an okay choice for swimsuit specials. But not villainesses or even villains who deal in death and destruction.

Boy, these propagandists sure know how to sensationalize all the wrong kind of figures, and lavish all the attention far more suited to heroes. No wonder morale's in such sorry state.

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Personally I am one of the people who hate Harley Quinn mainly for her forced relationship with Poison Ivy and all this ridiculous homosexual propaganda that goes with it, the most shameful thing is Is to want to pass off Poison Ivy as an environmentalist lesbian when in 1960 she was just a woman who raped men This way of making villains more important and respectable than the heroes is ridiculous but obviously the writers these days are mentally deranged

Poison Ivy did not even exist in 1960! And she never raped men, although she clouded their minds impressively.

The whole point of Harley is that she sits in the middle; half-hero/half-villain, half-Jewish/half-Christian, and also bisexual. Even her costumes are all divided down the middle, blue/black on one side where they are red on the other.

1. There's no such thing as half-Jewish/half-Christian, as Christian is purely a religion and not a race (only Judaism is both a religion AND a race).

2. Last I checked, it was Harvey Dent/Two-Face who's main schtick was dualities, NOT Harley Quinn (and even HE was firmly straight, NOT bisexual). She if anything was originally created to be Joker's groupie after the writers of the Batman animated series realized having Joker himself jump out of a cake as part of a heist was too bizarre even for him.

Harvey can't make up his mind; Harley straddles the line. She has one Jewish parent and one Christian parent. She is not a dual personality like Harvey; it is that her identity doesn't fit the standard categories. She is much more visceral than Harvey, except when she is treating patients in her professional role. They are both highly-educated people.

Judaism is the religion. It is a big stretch to say that there is a Jewish race. A lot of Jews, by no means all, share some common ancestral DNA, but that does not make them a race, any more than you can speak of the Welsh race or the Greek race. A significant number of ages-back Jews wound up in India, in China, in Africa, in Europe. The modern populations of their descendants share ancestral genetic commonalities with the Jews of the Middle East, for sure, but it is a stretch to say that they are all of the same race.

Harley is following DC tradition. Harlequin, the Golden Age Green Lantern villianess, as they called them back in those days, started off as a crook with a crush on Green Lantern, and was later revealed/transformed to be secretly working on the side of law enforcement. So the Harlequin characters have always been ambiguous. And impetuous.

It might be more helpful to think of Jews as a people, rather than a race. They have a shared history and culture, not just shared religious beliefs, even though they are of many different races.

Tell that to the Jewish people who insist they ARE their own race in addition to a religion. I learned that from my mom one time.

And as far as Dent, he decides by coin toss, and there was at least one comic that did have him going against what the coin told him. Said comic, BTW, acted as the direct inspiration for the Batman: Arkham series of video games. And there are a few times where he does straddle the line by doing good deeds when the good side goes up. Heck, if anything, due to the damage the bad side has, the coin's technically slightly more likely to go up on the good side than the bad. And in the Harley Quinn DLC for Arkham Knight, there's some imagery in her madness mode that does suggest at least a little bit of a split personality between Quinn and Quinzel.

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