The Harlequin(pop culture)
The Harlequin—not to be confused with the Teen Titan named Harlequin (aka “the Joker's Daughter”) or Batman foe Harley Quinn—is a court jester–like villainess who originated during comics' Golden Age (1938–1954). She leapt into an early Green Lantern (GL) story written by Robert Kanigher and penciled by Irwin Hasen in All-American Comics #89 (1947) as tomboy secretary Molly Mayne, who worked at Gotham City radio station WXYZ and fantasized about dating GL. As part of its Green Lantern radio serial, the station invented a recurring villain called “the Harlequin” to taunt the hero on air. Trying to attract the attention of the real-life GL (whose alter ego, Alan Scott, was a WXYZ broadcaster), Mayne created a costume and nimbly leaped over Gotham rooftops as the Harlequin. After locating a pair of special glasses and a flying car from a secret source, Harlequin formed her own crime gang. Her cat-eyeglasses projected realistic illusions and were rigged to give anyone but Mayne a strong electrical shock if touched. With Olympic-level athleticism and a heavy wooden mandolin that doubled as a club, she was Green Lantern's first female adversary—and one of a long list of comics' femme fatales. While robbing banks and committing petty crimes, Harlequin often battled GL; her efforts not to hurt the dreamy do-gooder inadvertently caused mishaps that landed the clumsy crime queen on the hit lists of Gotham gangsters. When it was later disclosed that the Harlequin was doing double duty as an FBI agent, she and the Green Lantern teamed up to capture super-criminals like the Wraith, the Sportsmaster, and assorted Communist agents. While the Harlequin virtually disappeared from comics pages in 1949, she was seen briefly in the 1980s as an aging villainess who, after disclosing her secret identity, married long-time crush Alan Scott.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.