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Movie Reviews

Harley Quinn's Death Brings Her Old Evil Version Back To DC

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Harley Quinn #23Though the DC Universe may be full of colorful characters, few ever end up straddling the line between good and evil more than Gotham’s own Harley Quinn.

Introduced as a sidekick/love interest to one of the city’s greatest psychopaths, Harley’s versatility has proven to be an enduring aspect of her character, as she’s divided her time between deluded villain and reluctant hero. Harley’s newest ongoing series began back in 2021 under the irreverent yet cleverly composed pen of Stephanie Phillips, and saw the one-time villain take up the role of the struggling community activist as she mounted a campaign to atone for her previous evil performances as the villanous version of Harley. Though not without several notable hiccups, including an attempted hospital committal by Bat-villain Hugo Strange, a near-successful framing at the hands of her new villain Verdict which saw another stint in jail (and subsequent escape), Harley has managed to overcome her previous bouts of psychosis to become a positive force in Gotham, devoting herself to rehabilitating former henchmen and trying to stay out of trouble (often failing through no fault of her own.) But, beginning in issue #22, her newest story-arc appears to be hinting at a return to her old ways, following her untimely death, and, even more strangely-timed, immediate resurrection.

Related: Harley Quinn’s 10 Most Heroic Acts In DC Comics

In Harley Quinn #23 by Stephanie Phillips and Matteo Lolli, readers see Harley return to Gotham following a brief stint as an inanimate corpse, aided by a dip in Lazarus Pits (thanks to her best friend Kevin), Harley seems to be fairly normal on the surface. However, Lazarus Pits are known to drive their revived subjects mad, and it’s clear that Harley has been acting uncharacteristically bizarre, even for her. One instance might be her poor impulse control in blabbing to everyday citizens about her resurrection, leading to a cult forming up around her, whose worship she accepts with no hesitation. Another might be her decision to hunt down her attempted murderer (whose identity remains a mystery) with no one but her hyenas Budd and Lou for assistance, despite knowing she could call upon the support of Batman himself. Something seems off about Harley lately, and it could spell trouble for her redemption.

It could be argued from a narrative standpoint that Batman’s greatest tragedy over the years has been his inability to reform the many rogues which populate Gotham City and convince his villains to abandon their life of crime. Of all of his former adversaries, Harley Quinn is the only one to maintain even marginally consistent progress towards reform, most likely aided by being separated from the harmful presences of her former supervillain romantic partners Joker and Poison Ivy as well as her own training in clinical psychiatry. However, a Lazarus Pit is a different beast entirely, and not even the brilliant Ra’s Al Ghul could resist the maddening effects of its torrid resurrection process.

Can Harley resist the insanity-inducing effects of the Lazarus Pit enough to avoid her past atrocious pattern of behavior? And, if not, how long will it be before Batman is called in to put a stop to the formerly-reformed antihero he tacitly supported? The stakes are rising in Harley Quinn, and it may spell a tragic relapse into villainy.

Next: Harley Quinn Calls Out Joker’s Girlfriend For Being A Cheap Copy

Harley Quinn #23 is available now from DC Comics.

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