DC vs Marvel: Harley Quinn vs Mystique
For as long as there have been comic books, there has been the feud between DC and Marvel. Both are heavy-hitting comic companies that continue to gain legions of fans every year. The purpose of this column is to take one DC persona and one Marvel persona of equal measure and popularity and pit them against each other to see who would come out on top and who is a better character overall.
I choose to match Harley Quinn with Mystique because they’re both tricksters in their own way and are very popular villains in their respective universes.
Harley Quinn is a unique character in that she was created specifically for the show Batman: The Animated Series. When writers noticed how popular she was with fans she was quickly introduced into comics as well. Dr. Harleen Quinzel studied psychology at Gotham State University. It was at her residence at Arkham Asylum that she met and fell in love with The Joker, eventually helping him escape and being committed herself. After many more escapes Harley became a staple in Batman’s villain line-up. Sometimes working on her own, sometimes with The Joker, and sometimes as the head of her own gang, Harley quickly cemented herself as a leading Gotham character.
Mystique, aka Raven Darkholme, has a shadowy past of which few know anything about. She spent time working for the United States Civil Service before joining up with other mutants. Raven has also had multiple relationships and even children. She became a villain when she felt her status as a mutant was threatened but later became Professor X’s spy in exchange for protection from the countries seeking retribution against her terrorism. Mystique has an interesting background and readers can never be sure what side she is truly on. While Mystique’s background is no doubt interesting, Harley’s connection to The Joker and transition from TV to comic star that wins her this round.
Point: Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is an expert gymnast (she received a scholarship to Gotham State) and trained in the field of psychoanalysis. Other than a few toxin immunities, Harley doesn’t have powers of any sort. Mystique, on the other hand, has some of the most impressive powers in the Marvel universe. She can psionically shift the atoms of her body to duplicate any humanoid of either sex, wearing any kind of clothing. She can essentially become any person she wishes. Along with this, Mystique is immune to poisons and drugs and doesn’t age. Her abilities have allowed Mystique to go undercover in any number of situations and give her a definite point in this category.
Harley Quinn is known for being The Joker’s girl, and is most often seen fighting beside him. For a period of time she ran her own gang, The Quintets. In the New 52 reboot, Harley is brought back to the good side by Amanda Waller and joins her task force The Suicide Squad. In the end, Harley will always been known for her affiliation with her puddin’.
Mystique has jumped around from group to group and began as a member of the villainous team Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (which later became the Freedom Force). She then went on to join different branches of the X-Men, as well as The Marauders. Although Mystique isn’t’t known for her loyalty to any specific group, her affiliation with the X-Men (as either member or villain) is famous. Mystique is often affiliated with The X-Men, either as member or nemesis, and Harley is known for her affiliations with The Joker. At the end of the days it’s apples and oranges so this one is a tie.
Harley is perhaps best known for her harlequin appearance and silly weapons. Her classic look is a red, white, and black jumpsuit complete with belled hood but has since evolved. She’s kept the same color scheme but her comic-book costume is significantly more revealing that her classic BTAS look. As for weapons, Harley is known for her deadly yet humorous devices such as an over-sized wooden mallet and a boxing glove gun.
Mystique’s famous blue skin, red hair, and yellow eyes are unforgettable. There isn’t another comic book character that looks quite like her. While that is her typical look, Mystique also takes on the form of anyone she wishes. As for weaponry, she has been known to use a variety of different things. As interesting as her look is, Harley’s iconic harlequin outfit and humorous weapons give her the edge here.
Point: Harley Quinn
Harley first showed up in BTAS in 1992 and by the next year made her first comic appearance in The Batman Adventures #12. She has also made appearances in numerous comics and especially video games, including Injustice: Gods Among Us, the Arkham series, and Lego Batman. Harley appears in some animated films including Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and other animated shows besides BTAS including The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. She was also on the short-lived live action TV show Birds of Prey, portrayed by Mia Sara.
Mystique first showed up in Marvel comics in 1978. She has made appearances in different animated television shows including X-Men and X-Men: Evolution. Mystique has a strong record in live-action films, being portrayed by Rebecca Romijn in the original X-Men trilogy: X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Her character has had a resurgence with the newer X-Men films, X-Men: First Class (2011) and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past played by Jennifer Lawrence. Mystique is also a popular character in video games such as X-Men Legends.
When it comes to social relevance it’s hard to beat Harley Quinn. Go to any comic convention and you’ll find at least a handful of Harley’s. She’s a fan favorite for memorabilia, art, and especially costumes. She’s loved among gamers, comic-book readers, and BTAS viewers alike. As cool as Mystique is, even her increased film relevance can’t top the power of The Joker’s #1 girl.
Point: Harley Quinn.
This was an especially tough battle with two feisty and sneaky ladies who constantly keep audiences engaged with their on and off affiliations and unique physiques. At the end of the day, it’s Harley Quinn’s fame and strong fanbase that not only got her into the comics, but won her this competition as well.
WINNER: Harley Quinn!