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Carlos D’Anda’s ‘Arkham City’ Concept Art Shows the Evolution of Juggalo Harley Quinn

Ever since Batman: Arkham Asylum hit consoles in 2009, I’ve been a pretty big fan of what Rocksteady’s been doing with the franchise. The one exception has been the character design they’ve gone with for Harley Quinn. Every time I look at it, I just can’t figure out how they got from the original version designed by Bruce Timm to a character who looks like she’s on her way to catch a once-in-a-lifetime Dark Lotus show at the Gathering of the Juggalos. io9 has posted a series of concept art revisions by artist and character designer Carlos D’Anda, showing exactly how they got there. Whether you like the redesign or not, it makes for a pretty interesting look at the process — and how they almost went even more over the top! Check out the concept art and our comments after the cut!First, let’s go back to D’Anda’s concept art for Arkham Asylum to find out where we started:

The concept here was clearly to put Harley in a “Sexy Nurse” costume to reflect what was going on with the Joker’s takeover of the asylum. Personally, I like the simplicity of the one on the left quite a bit. What we ended up with, though, was a little closer to the one on the right — minus the hat that I think she cribbed from Lemmy’s collection of Nazi memorabilia. So for all intents and purposes, that’s our starting point, but keep an eye on the elements in that middle version. As it stands it may have been way too over the top to get in the first game, but we’ll be seeing those boots, gloves and garters in a few minutes.

But for Arkham City, we start at the top:

It’s interesting that D’Anda’s sketches of Harley give her a far more smouldering and seductive look than the playful (and clinically insane) flirtiness that you usually see from the character. The makeup around the eyes is obviously there to indicate that she’s crying — the teaser trailr for the game reveals that the Joker’s “terminally ill” at the start of the game, after all. More than that, though, is seeing how intricate his designs for her headpiece were at the start. A few of them get downright Victorian, with complex clasps and jewelry, which makes me wonder if there was a different character concept at play at the start the Road Warrior version we’ll be seeing in October.

It ended up getting a little closer to the final design here, with what appear to be notes given to D’Anda:

I actually like this version of the costume a lot, — and, if you’ll notice, it has the garters and boots recycled from the Arkham Aslyum design above. And I have to agree, the boots are in fact good. What strikes me about it is that judging by the comments along the side, even with all the amped up BSDM equipment she’s rocking, this actually wasn’t sexy enough. They initially wanted to go even more over the top.

My favorite part is that the facial expression D’Anda gives her makes it seem like even Harley herself is like “seriously? Fuzzy handcuffs?!

As for where those handcuffs came from, here’s your answer:

This doesn’t look like D’Anda’s work, and seems more like an initial design by someone else at Rocksteady that he was working from. The pose and the facial expression seem very influenced by Catwoman from Batman Returns, but the pants are oddly baggy, and the whole thing feels really generic. Maybe it’s just the dark colors that keep it from popping, but it seems like a background NPC, not someone who would actually have a name.

And then there’s that fuzzy handcuff, which ended up in D’Anda’s redesign:

In addition to mimicking the headdress with the paint-dipped pigtails, this one adds in the requested navel piercing (because where would a video game released in 2011 be without that) and fuzzy handcuffs. Also, the diamonds from her original Bruce Timm costume return in the truly hilarious form of a My Little Pony cutie mark tattoo.

In the end, Rocksteady opted to go with something that was slightly less lingerie-ish, giving us our final version:

Using the diamonds as details on a pair of actual pants was a pretty good move, but sadly, the tattoos they did end up going with are even more hilarious, and not in a good way. They also dropped the streaked eye makeup for some reason (perhaps she’s moved straight to Acceptance), and the darker colors have the same problem of not really popping as well as they should, especially in a game that looks to take place entirely at night. But on the bright side, there’s no fuzzy handcuff, the pants are actually pretty nice, and simplifying the top tones things down a little.

In the end, I’m still not thrilled with the changes, but the more I look at how it ended up (and how it might‘ve been), the less I hate it.

For more concept art — including Two-Face and some shots of Hugo Strange that might be spoilers if you’re not familiar with the character — check out Comic Book Movie’s gallery!

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