Agree or disagree: both Mr. Freeze and Harley Quinn have not had a single good story outside of the DCAU.
Confession: I haven’t seen a lot of the DCAU. I managed to miss it entirely as a kid (I was more of a Care-Bears-and-My-Little-Pony kid, albeit with a secret fascination with the X-Men), and though I’ve been meaning to catch up on it as an adult, I’ve only seen a couple of BTAS episodes.
I don’t think I’ve read too many stories featuring Mr. Freeze, so I couldn’t say on that one. Harley, though, I think she’s had a few really good stories outside of the DCAU.
Karl Kesel’s run on Harley’s solo series was heaps of fun. I love the way he handles Harley’s relationship with the Joker. That relationship is a stumbling block for a lot of writers, because it’s such a deeply unhealthy one, and when it’s handled poorly it can very easily turn into a horribly unfunny comedic portrayal of domestic violence.
Kesel is very careful to avoid that, and right from issue #1 he gives us a Harley who, for all that she rebuffs her friends’ warnings, is extremely aware that the Joker is trying to take advantage of her (and, ultimately, kill her)… she just happens to find it adorable, and she cheerfully stays one step ahead of him the whole way.
And so the Joker’s attempt to manipulate Harley into running errands for him fails, as instead she ends up running his whole gang. And his plans make a murderous comeback fall flat because Harley’s seen right through them all along, and she’s got something different in mind for the evening. And his plot to kill her? Oh, she always knew about that, and in the end it’s the Joker who comes off looking the worse for wear.
There’s a lot of fun stuff in Kesel’s run. At one stage, she and Ivy go on a road trip to Metropolis, which leads to Harley getting a job with the Daily Planet as a relationship advice columnist. This goes about as well as you’d expect.
Oh, and then there was that story where Harley died and went to Hell, where she ends up schooling a ruthless vengeful ghost bounty hunter on his homophobia:
Ultimately Harley is just too badass for even Hell to handle, and she causes so much upheaval that she gets banished back to the realm of the living.
So yeah, Kesel’s Harley is heaps of fun.
The Harley and Ivy mini is also awesome, though I’m not sure if that counts as regular DCU continuity or DCAU.
Can’t say I’ve been too excited by anything the New 52′s done with Harley, though. Her new origin story is ten types of awful. And her current solo series, while I like its silliness and its upbeat tone, just hasn’t really captured me. I persisted with it for quite a while, but I really never felt too attached to it. When the writers confirmed that they’d been queerbaiting (I’m sorry, that Harley and Ivy are just really good friends who just happen to flirt outrageously with each other), I wasn’t sorry to drop the book.