Being in a fandom is both fun and somewhat infuriating at times. If you read DC Comics and know all the ins and outs of Joker and Harley Quinn‘s relationship, it can be difficult to take people seriously when they idolize the couple. It’s time to stop holding this toxic pairing up as one to strive for, and time to start idolizing normal, healthy relationships in comics.
A lot of people may judge their relationship by the fanart and images like the one on the cover image of this article. Joker and Harley may make a nice drawing together and look aesthetically pleasing. But under the surface (and you don’t have to look too far) there is a ton of manipulation and gaslighting on Joker’s part. Joker has always treated Harley like absolute garbage and if not for her pursuing him because of her infatuation, they probably wouldn’t have been together at all. And it’s definitely not the type of relationship you’ll be wanting to get his and hers merchandise of.
Joker is more interested in his obsession of Batman and that is the only thing he seems to care about. Harley never comes to mind unless he’s trying to get back at her for something she did for his attention. In all seriousness, Harley is living in a very manipulative situation that she doesn’t realize she’s stuck in. When they are together he physically and mentally abuses her and tries to kill her multiple times.
Harley once confessed to a pregnant Black Canary that she had a daughter. Because she knew what kind of father Joker would be, she left for a year to have the baby, eventually giving her up to go back to Joker. And when she did? He hadn’t even noticed she was gone.
He threw her into a vat of chemicals so that she could “prove” herself to him. This was the same vat of chemicals that bleached Joker’s skin he literally threw her into. Permanently altering her appearance which had been previously done with make-up and making it so that she could never really forget him. Sometimes in toxic relationships you’ll see branding. It’s extreme but it does happen. This is a type of branding that was put on Harley against her will and it’s just awful.
In “Batman the Animated Series,” Joker pushes her out of a window for trying to help him actually kill Batman. In BTAS Harley nearly succeeds in killing Batman and tries to surprise Joker with it. Instead he gets so angry he flips on her and pushes her out of a window. THIS is something that happens in toxic relationships all the time. Not the literal throwing out the window, but partner B will try to appease partner A by doing something that they’ve verbally said they wanted. Only to then get mad at partner B for trying to help and making them feel less than. Batman even tells her that Joker doesn’t care about her but his warnings fall on deaf ears as she’s been so mentally and emotionally manipulated that she’s completely blind to her own situation.
These are just a few examples but unfortunately the list goes on. Eventually she does break up with him and move on which is what the cartoon “Harley Quinn” focuses on which is why it’s so good. Seeing someone get out of a relationship like the one she was in is so refreshing. Though there have been some that say this development has ruined her character. They apparently didn’t like her just acting crazy on her own but needed her to have Joker as a crutch to be interesting.
Instead of ending this on a low note, let’s talk about who are appropriate couples to try to be like.
Superman and Lois Lane (DC Comics)
Superman aka Clark Kent and Lois are probably one of the best couples in comics. They start out liking each other, dating and eventually marry and have children. There’s no deception, Lois knows about his identity and he talks to her openly about his adventures. The fact that they communicate is kind of a big deal. Often times men are portrayed in comics as having to hold this huge burden on their shoulders (ex. Batman) and keeping feelings and motives hidden. It’s not healthy and it does not make for a good relationship.
He’s also a great dad and has had many, many children over the years. He’s fathered kids with Lois Lane as well as Wonder Woman over the years and even adopted a few.
Captain America and Peggy Carter (Marvel Comics)
These two star-crossed lovers met again after Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter are separated by his supposed death. Peggy is forced to move on but she never forgets about Steve. Her one true love. In the comics she ends up marrying an unnamed man. In “Avengers: Endgame” we get to see Steve make the difficult decision to go back in time to be with her once and for all. It’s a really beautiful story that more people should talk about.