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 ALW’s Stephanie Phillips, Simone DiMeo, Toni Infante, Tamra Bonvillain and Troy Peteri, out now.

After years of seeing what she’s capable of, you’d think Gotham’s villains would stop assuming they know the limits of Harley Quinn’s abilities. There’s a reason she survived as the Joker’s girlfriend, joining the Suicide Squad, and just about every other trial that has come her way since. And yet, even in DC’s future state, villains like the Scarecrow still underestimate how dangerous it is. Fortunately, Harley managed to use this disrespect as a weapon against Crane to escape the Magistrate’s grasp.

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Where the series last ended, Harley had been captured by the Magistrate’s soldiers. But instead of being thrown into a cell like all the other villains, she was approached by a seemingly reformed Jonathan Crane who had abandoned his Scarecrow persona to work alongside the Magistrate. The villain had been having a hard time immobilizing Black Mask, who was still on the run. He saw an opportunity in Harley’s unique perspective on the belly of Gotham to help him better capture his enemies.

Ironically, it was these exact abilities that would lead to his downfall. Despite knowing that she is capable of analyzing and manipulating other villains, she never considered that Harley would or could even do the same to him. And it was this arrogance that Harley took advantage of to formulate his 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 tap into Crane’s trust enough to be released from her cell on missions, she would never be out of the Magistrate’s purview. But Crane had provided him with the perfect way to create his escape. Harley waited, biding his time and proving his worth by capturing villains for the magistrate. And once Crane trusted her, he laid the seeds for her escape.

The only way Harley could escape Crane was by getting rid of the Magistrate soldiers. Harley planted the thought in Crane’s head that he could only get 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 expecting. She knocked out both Scarecrow and Black Mask, then fled the scene. In just a few days, Harley manipulated her way out of a seemingly impossible situation without anyone noticing until she left. He managed to use people’s understatement against him to carry out plans that no one expected him to do.

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 right now. In current comics, he shows signs of getting to this point, but hasn’t done so yet. She is able to surprise her enemies, like when she defeated DC Trinity during Heroes in crisis by Tom King and Clay Mann, but that was an impromptu act and lacked the subtlety of his older self. Regardless, as long as people continue to underestimate Harley, she will always defeat them with her own unique brand of chaotic cunning.

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