Sunday, February 3, 2008

14 Comic Book Couples I Love - Part 13

Now, while I do love these two crazy kids - and I'm not alone - this couple is nowhere near a healthy relationship. Their love is not healthy, not wise, and definitely not sane. One might argue that it isn't even "love" just terrible psychosis and obsession. They're not even a couple as I write this. All that said, I still love these two, dysfunctional as they are. Sometimes you just have to be reminded that love can end in tears. And sometimes it ends in bullets, Batarangs and exploding whoopie cushions. . . .

13. Harley Quinn & The Joker

Yes, I know I've posted two supervillain couples in a row. I never said they had to be good, functional couples, now did I? Besides, I thought 13 should be unlucky.

Of course, the best part of any functional, healthy relationship is that each partner stands on their own and brings something to the other that the other never even knew they needed. This clearly isn't one of those.

Harleen Quinzel was the Joker's therapist until he gave her a Costco-sized case of Stockholm Syndrome to make her fall for him. A textbook case of Mad Love, if you will. I watched every episode of the animated series with this crazy duo and collected every appearance of the two together. I also collected the early run of Harley's series and loved it (haven't loved the rest of her appearances as much, save for Dini or Simone written ones, but I digress).

For whatever reason, I've always been fascinated with this twisted, horrible relationship. Harleen Quinzel was smart and capable, albeit a bit morally gray - so what made her go the distance? Does the Joker care for even slightly or is it all just an act?

This whole relationship clearly demonstrates the danger of loving blindly, falling for lies, not loving yourself enough to value yourself as much as the person you're with. In recent issues over at DC, the Joker flat-out tried to kill Harley to let go of his old self, which at least implies a part of him thought she meant something. As a result, Harley's reformed - by working first at a battered women's shelter, appropriately enough, and later figuring it out wasn't it as it seemed.. She's something of a hero now but you have to wonder if she'll ever get a sane ending or if the "joke's" too funny to not keep on telling.

A lot of people have problems with the character of Harley Quinn and they're valid ones. The idea of an abused girlfriend as comedic relief should make people queasy but she's still incredibly popular.

Now, I don't think her popularity is about anyone approving of this relationship. I think it's about people knowing the ins and outs of it all too well. People love Harley because just about everybody's fallen for somebody they shouldn't have or made terrible mistakes out of love.

Sometimes you meet somebody and they change your whole life. Good or bad, they change you forever. They call it chemistry because if you combine one chemical with another, there's heat and both chemicals are left different than before. Maybe united, maybe not. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Harley and the Joker represent that bad love, that crazy love that's no good for you but still leaves you changed. A love I've had too much experience with in my life, sad to say.

Maybe you've never had the displeasure of learning that not all love is grand and sometimes the smartest, healthiest thing to do with it is to walk away. If so, congratulations, and I hope you you stay happy . . . to a point. Y'see, as we all know from watching The Joker, it's not healthy to smile all the time. You don't learn anything if you don't cry a little inside sometimes.

And maybe that's the moral of the story - mad love ain't good love but at least you learn from the joke.

Now, since I've gotten so surprisingly maudlin, I'll leave you on a happy song. Take it away, Harley!

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