The numbers are in, folks: Harley Quinn isn’t just the Queen of Gotham, she’s the queen of the comics industry. That industry has been firing on all cylinders this year, producing and selling more comics than it has in a decade, and people are buying them like crazy.
Four of the top 10 titles of the last month feature Harley Quinn in their line-ups, including Suicide Squad, Suicide Squad: Rebirth, Harley Quinn, and Harley Quinn: Rebirth. That last comic was the number one comic of the month, out-selling superhero staples like Batman and Spider-Man. So, what can we extrapolate from this kind of news? Why Harley, and why now?
Although critics generally despised Suicide Squad, the film opened to $133.7 million in its first weekend, assumedly in part to see Margot Robbie play Harley Quinn. Robbie’s performance wasn’t panned with the rest of the film; in fact, most critics deemed her performance, alongside Will Smith as Deadshot, as a bright spot in an otherwise murky, convoluted film. It’s possible that Suicide Squad’s depiction of Harley ignited widespread, newfound interest in the character, but there are larger patterns at work. For one, DC’s comics, specifically Rebirth, have consistently been outselling Marvel’s new books this year. The majority of Marvel series are related to Civil War Part II, a storyline as angst-ridden and complex as Rebirth is hopeful and reaffirming. Although Harley is clearly a powerful player in the comic book surge, it appears that DC’s nostalgia and renewed sense of positivity is winning out against Marvel’s internal conflicts, which rage on between Iron Man and Captain Marvel.
We may still be in the superhero renaissance, but the “dark and gritty” viewpoint may be on the way out. Welcome to the bat-wielding, bubblegum-pop reign of Harley Quinn.