Up until now, Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) hasn’t really progressed far enough in her supervillain career to go head-to-head with the Justice League, though she has crossed paths with a few of its members. As much as Harley wanted a high-profile nemesis, it turns out that the League is just as terrifying as the Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes) said they were - although not quite as violent.
We already know that the League has carte blanche on cruel and unusual punishment, trapping the Queen of Fables in a book of U.S. Tax Code without so much as a trial. At their best, they come off as self-righteous buzzkills who detain first, and ask questions...never? Granted the world of ‘Harley Quinn’ features a Legion of Doom who publicly announces how evil they are, so it’s possible the League has a false sense of security in regards to knowing who is evil, and who isn’t, with little room for nuance in between.
Their appearance on ‘Devil’s Snare’ is exciting to see, at first, as DC’s greatest superheroes swoop in to save the day. It quickly turns more worrying, though, as the League prepares itself to throw Harley and her crew into the Phantom Zone without so much as an interrogation, which seems a lot like overkill. The Phantom Zone, in the comics, tends to be a bit of a one-way trip reserved for the worst and most dangerous villains that the DC universe has to offer.
The League has apparently been locking criminals up without due process for a while because Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) seems to have completely forgotten that she has the ultimate interrogative tool just hanging off of her hip. It’s up to Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) to wrap herself in the lasso to convince the League that she’s telling the truth about her innocence.
While we’re used to seeing the world from the League’s eyes, seeing them from a villain’s perspective really elaborates on just how dangerous they are, and how terrifying it must be to have them show up. What’s more, these supposed paragons of justice show up entirely self-assured, with superior smiles dripping with self-righteousness. As inspiring as the characters are in more superhero-centric shows, on ‘Harley Quinn’ you suddenly understand why the supervillain community bears such hatred for the League.
Batman (Diedrich Bader) interestingly enough, seems to be the only superhero in the series who understands the concept of nuance in the supervillain community. In ‘A Seat At the Table,’ he appears to have genuine empathy for Harley, who’d just been betrayed by the Joker (Alan Tudyk) - again. He’s worked with her, in ‘You’re a Damn Good Cop, Jim Gordon,’ even listening to her advice. His obsessive studying of the criminal mind seems to have taught him that not all bad guys are the same. You start to see another reason why he’s so territorial of Gotham, and why he tends to keep the rest of the Justice League out of his city.
Granted, the show is set in a world as seen through Harley Quinn’s eyes, and the personalities of superheroes are probably a little skewed when viewed from her perspective. It’s still an interesting take on the Justice League. There are dozens of stories about alternate worlds where the Justice League has turned evil, but the few stories that bring out the disturbing aspect of the Justice League’s super-heroics tend to be a lot more fascinating.
They’re not quite the Justice Leaguers you know and love from other properties, but their portrayal on ‘Harley Quinn’ offers an interesting perspective on the League. Maybe it’s not the wisest course of action to allow incredibly powerful people to make unilateral decisions, no matter which side of the good/ evil line they’re on.
The season finale of ‘Harley Quinn’ airs February 21, on DC Universe.