The Joker and Harley Quinn bust from Sideshow Collectibles captures two different interpretations of two of the most well-known and iconic villains in the DCU showing that manically crazy never goes out of fashion.
Considering their individual inception happened over fifty years apart, it’s difficult to imagine them not existing in the same world. The Joker arrived in Batman #1 (1940) with a remarkable amount of his signature traits fully formed. The white skin, pushed back green hair, huge toothy grin, purple suit and the all-important MO of leaving a smile on his victims faces. The juxtaposition between the smiling business clown appearance and the homicidal intent (not simply bank-robbing or empire-building) was stark and shocking enough to leave a lasting impression. Over the next decade elements were heightened, drawing out the craziness and chaos and establishing the “falling into a vat of chemicals” origin to explain his appearance and his madness.
As comics entered the Silver Age (1956-1970), pressure from the Comics Code Authority Censorship Board saw Joker toned down. Still unpredictable, but less psychotic, he became more of a thieving prankster. It didn’t affect his look though, and it’s the version that made it to the screen in the TV show during the ’60’s. Did anyone say tame?
Fortunately, the Joker’s true nature could not be contained, even by the Comics Code Authority, and a couple of years into the Bronze Age of comics (1970-1986) we got a revival of the killer Joker. In Batman #251 (1973) Denny O’Neil wrote a story where Joker breaks out from mental asylum and goes on a murderous revenge spree. For the story, (titled “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge”) Neal Adams created a defining subtle variation on the classic look for this ruthless version of the Joker – he became tall, thin and with hair that could become as wild as his dangerously unpredictable character.
Since then, despite all the variations from the screen adaptations of the Joker’s appearance – from scarring that looks like a grin, shoddily applied make-up, shaved eyebrows, tattoos – illustrators have kept to The Bronze Age look, sometimes heightening the eyebrow, eyes and grin depending on the amount of realism in their general art style.
For Harley Quinn, her appearance change has been more radical. From the full body suit and jester hat of her first appearance designed by Bruce Timm for Batman: The Animated Series (1992), to the hot pants, corset/vest and jacket of recent times, which keeps the original red and black coloring, but is inspired by the looser punk style seen in the movie adaptations.
Character-wise she has gone through some subtle changes. Her extraordinary charm has seen her go from villain to anti-hero – after all, villains need to be hated as well as loved and that’s unlikely when we could probably forgive any of her wrongdoings. Plus, thanks to the popularity of her animated series, Harley has developed a relationship with Poison Ivy which, at the very least, has provided a distraction from her obsession with the Joker.
The relationship with Poison Ivy has justifiably been a hit for a number of reasons, but Harley and the Joker have something different. Like two kindred spirits they recognise themselves in each other. But together they are destructive, to everything around them and ultimately themselves. The Joker is the bad influence on Harley that she can’t resist, and his occasional indifference to her (thanks to his psychopathy) simply fans the flames of desire. But when they are together, you just know things are going to be unpredictably worse.
The Joker and Harley Quinn bust captures this unique dance. A slightly animated style, hence their exaggerated expressions, Harley is draped over the Joker with a pained look in her eyes. The Joker is triumphant, like he’s a conductor orchestrating a symphony of chaos. He holds the Joker card like it’s an ace.
For all the evil geniuses and heavy hitters in comics, it’s clear that psychotic mania holds a strangely endearing place in our hearts. There have been so many interpretations of Joker and Harley Quinn, and their relationship. The release of the second Joker movie, Joker: Folie a Deux (2024), will present a new and different version of the couple, but you can bet that certain elements remain the same, because they’re the elements that make the characters great. By merging a classic look Joker with a more modern Harley Quinn in this new bust, it’s possible to appreciate how their characters, and their relationship transcend storytelling trends.
The Joker and Harley Quinn bust is available to pre-order from Sideshow Collectibles.
Show your alliance to Gotham City’s criminal underworld with Nemesis Now’s officially licensed The Joker Bust. Featuring the Clown Prince of Crime and the Maiden of Mischief. The Joker can be seen laughing maniacally, in his iconic purple suit, with a playing card gripped between his fingers. Whilst Harley Quinn wraps herself around his torso, looking up at him longingly, wearing her signature black and red outfit and pigtails. Cast in the finest resin before being expertly hand-painted, this bust is the perfect product for any comic book fan’s collection.
Height: 14.76″ (37.5 cm)
Width: 10.63″ (27 cm)
Depth: 10.04″ (25.5 cm)
Product Images and Press Release Courtesy of Sideshow Collectibles