Gotham’s criminals still underestimate how dangerous Harley Quinn actually is, which Jonathan Crane just learned the hard way.

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Future State: Harley Quinn #2 by Stephanie Phillips, Simone DiMeo, Toni Infante, Tamra Bonvillain and ALW’s Troy Peteri, on sale now.

After years of seeing what she is capable of, one would think that Gotham’s villains would stop assuming they knew the limits of Harley Quinn’s abilities. There is a reason she survived being the Joker’s girlfriend, joining the Suicide Squad and just about every other trial that’s come her way since. And yet, even in DC’s Future State, villains like the Scarecrow still underestimate just how dangerous she is. Luckily, Harley managed to use this lack of respect as a weapon against Crane to escape from the Magistrate’s grasp.

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Where the series last left off, Harley had been captured by the Magistrate’s soldiers. But rather than just be thrown in a cell like all the other villains, she was approached by a seemingly reformed Jonathan Crane who had forsaken his Scarecrow persona to work alongside the Magistrate. The villain had been having a hard time pinning down Black Mask, who was still at large. He saw an opportunity in Harley’s unique perspective on Gotham’s underbelly to better help him capture his enemies.

Ironically, it was these exact skills that would lead to his downfall. Despite knowing that she is capable of analyzing and manipulating other villains, he never considered that Harley would or even could do the same to him. And it was this arrogance that Harley exploited to formulate her escape plan. From the moment Crane approached Harley with his offer to work for the Magistrate as a “consultant,” she had already found her way out.

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Harley recognized that even if she managed to leverage enough trust from Crane to be let out of her cell on missions, she would never be outside of the Magistrate’s purview. But Crane had provided her with the perfect way to create her escape. Harley waited, biding her time and proving her worth by capturing villains for the magistrate. And once Crane was reliant on her, she laid the seeds for her escape.

The only way Harley could escape Crane was if he got rid of the Magistrate soldiers. Harley planted the thought in Crane’s head that he could only draw Black Mask out if he became the Scarecrow again. In doing so, he left behind the soldiers who would have no choice but to arrest him for breaking the law.

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This is what Harley was waiting for. She knocked both Scarecrow and Black Mask out, then fled the scene. In just the span of a few days, Harley manipulated her way out of a seemingly impossible situation without anyone realizing until she was long gone. She managed to use people’s underestimation of her against them to pull off schemes that no one expected her to.

This future version of Harley is very familiar with the players around her. So much so that manipulating them was child’s play for her at this point. In the present day comics, she is showing signs of reaching this point but is not quite there yet. She is capable of surprising her enemies, such as when she defeated the DC Trinity during Heroes in Crisis by Tom King and Clay Mann, but that was a spur of the moment act and lacked the subtlety of her older self. Regardless, so long as people continue to underestimate Harley, she will always defeat them with her own unique brand of chaotic cunning.

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