This week hasn’t been great for news about DC. First there was the change in direction, at the last minute, for Batwoman as a character, which has led to the current main creative forces behind the character to leave the comic. And now an art competition, which asks aspiring artists to depict Harley Quinn, in four different panels, getting ready to kill herself via various means. Oh, and in the final one it asks for her to be naked.

What’s that, you don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this:

Harley Quinn suicide art competition

I get it, Harley Quinn is an “unstable” character, like most of the baddies that have sprung out of Gotham over the years. And the whole, “Is Batman a source of their illness or society or themselves or whatever,” yes, mental health is generally a big issue for characters in Gotham.

But do they need to do a talent search competition that seems to revel in not only the above, but also the incredibly sexual nature of the character? ‘Cause, let’s face it – most of the time, Harley tends to get overly sexualised in how she’s depicted (these days) – unnecessary amounts of skin exposed or a bust that looks like it could get in the way.

Even as a guy, I don’t like the idea of the character being exploited in this way. Sure she’s a piece of fiction, but having death and sex brought together like this doesn’t seem to be for anything more than kicks. And while it would be possible to draw that last panel with Harley covered up by various parts of the scene, so that you don’t see her completely naked – how many entrants will do that?

But come on, this is the publisher that launched the New 52 Catwoman with more tits and ass on show than personality, and numerous other cases of overly sexualised female form – their track record here doesn’t seem to indicate that they’ll pick a winner that’s drawn any of the panels tastefully. Or maybe they will. Maybe they’ll act against type.

Meanwhile, here’s my interpretation of that final panel:


You can catch more debate about all of this on episode 56 of Nerds Assemble, which will be out this week.