Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not All Characters Have To Be Crazy The Same Way

It's seeming more and more likely the Year in Review posts are gonna have to wait until February. I had hoped that wouldn't be the case, but then comic guy shipped the books to the boonies, when I'm not there. Some coworkers were supposed to have forwarded them along last Wednesday, but here we are a week later, and nothing. So I don't know what's going on.

I've seen some folks discuss that Harley Quinn appears to be getting positioned as DC's Deadpool, and I wanted to see it for myself, via Harley Quinn #1. Ha, ha, life - and the U.S. Postal Service - laughs at my plans. Oh well, maybe it isn't necessary for what I'm going to say.

Certainly the #0 issue suggested strongly that Conner and Palmiotti were going that way, but I'm not sure whether that was a one-time thing, or if it truly sets the tone for the series. I don't think it's off-base for Harley to be a little out of her gourd, or for her to see things differently from your average person. She was a smart, somewhat unorthodox person even before the Joker threw her in a chemical bath. Having hallucinations, or threatening the creative team, yeah, that's a little close to Deadpool, but the key is to make that stuff window dressing for the things that are different.

For one thing, Harley is smart. Deadpool isn't a complete idiot, but he's not on her level. Between the cancer, the healing factor, the whole mess of memory-wiping drugs he was pumped full of*, you can't really fault him if his IQ has taken a hit. He can still be clever, and he's certainly unorthodox, but long-range planning isn't a strong point.

Harley's hopeless pursuit of Mister J's affections is somewhat similar to Wade's desire for love and respect, which seems similarly hopeless. The difference is, Harley's never going to get what she wants because the Joker is obsessed with Batman, and doesn't have time or interest in her. Wade's problem is he can't stop shooting himself in the foot. You see it every so often, where other heroes start to respect Deadpool, because he does something heroic, or they look past their preconceived notions about him and recognize he has a lot of pain. But inevitably, he does something horrible and throws it all away. He might have good reasons for doing whatever it was, or he might not. Either way, it's something that sours everyone on him all over again, and he's left starting from 0.

That's one other thing. Deadpool often tries to be a good guy, because he'd like to be. He wants to be the respected hero, with friends and loved ones, gets to hang out with the Avengers and stuff like that. But somehow, he can't ever make it stick. He's a little too quick to take the easy answer, too ready to fall back on hurting people who hurt him. Not always; that's why he can manage to keep building up his rep with the good guys, but often enough it always ruins the hard work he's put in. Part of that, I think, is because he's had so much suffering other people were indifferent to, it makes him indifferent to people's suffering, if it accomplishes something. In the second volume of his current series, when he's trying to keep himself and some others from having their souls devoured by a demon, he kills one of the others so that guy can go to Hell and parlay with Mephisto to save their bacon. It's great plan, even works, except for the part where that one guy had to spend the equivalent of years in Hell. Wade just kind of shrugs it off. He was asked to save the guy, he didn't see any other way, it worked, what more do you want?

Harley doesn't harbor any aspirations of being "good". Good and bad, I'm not sure they mean anything to her. It was about the Joker, what would get his attention, his approval, get his goat, on those occasions where he went far enough he pissed her off. There was a stretch in her first ongoing, where she fancied herself a Cupid, using crimes to bring prospective lovers closer together (such as two people who had been hired to catch her), but even then, I don't think she was working towards being a hero or anything. Love was important to her, so she worked to facilitate it, in her own unique way.

I think the end result is Harley mostly doesn't worry what others think, so she can make long-term plans and stick to them. Wade's more likely to leap on any given chance to make good, or make friends, so his path is likely to be filled with lots of fits and starts. Wade's more likely to do something selfless, Harley's less likely to ruin whatever scheme she has going. Deadpool's more likely to be direct, even if that takes him through a minefield, Harley would take a more circuitous route to get where she's going. The key for the creative in both cases is that their decisions should make a twisted sort of sense. You could see why they'd do that, even if it doesn't seem like a good idea.

Sooner or later, I suppose I'll get to see if I'm at all on target about Harley.

* I did get Volume 3 of Posehn and Duggan's current Deadpool series in the mail today.


SallyP said...

Well, this has to be the best explanation of Harley and Deadpool that I have read.

CalvinPitt said...

Thanks Sally. I'm still not sure I made things as clear as I wanted. One thing I maybe didn't say was I think Deadpool's more likely to react emotionally, Harley intellectually. If she hurts or kills someone, it's probably part of a plan, with him it's striking back at someone who hurt him, or just because.

She killed one of her henchmen once, because he was about to kill those two people she was trying to bring together, even though they were about to arrest the whole gang. It's nuts, but there was no heat to it, she just didn't want her plan ruined.