Harley Quinn, the Joker’s girlfriend introduced in Batman The Animated Series Episode #22 was really psychologist Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel who ended up with a crush on the Joker, Batman’s arch-nemesis. The Joker kinda liked Harley Quinn when it suited his purpose and abused her when she got in his way. Harley was your typical girl with unrequited love and a big crush on a bad boy that didn’t return the favour. As original as she seems and as popular as she became because of her neurotic attraction to the Joker, Harley Quinn was hardly the first original crazy chick in love with a mad lunatic. That title belongs to Prank.
Who is Prank you say? Prank was the acolyte of the Trickster, a Flash villain in the Flash television series that ran between 1990 and 1991. To be clear, there were two characters called Prank in that series. The first Prank was detective Megan Lockheart a love interest of the Flash/Barry Allen in that television series that had been captured by the Trickster and forced to be his side-kick. Her role was played by actress Joyce Hyser.
But the Prank that really looked like Harley Quinn wasn’t a damsel in distress. She was Zoey Clarke, the heiress of the Clarke toy store chain and obsessed with the Trickster, played by actress Corinne Vilhelma Bohrer. She appeared in the second episode and last of the series where the Trickster was on trial for the crimes he had committed in episode 12. She was first shown heckling Lockheart as she entered the court room and later sent tons of love letters to the Trickster who immediately fell in love with his secret admirer. Working as a court stenographer, she later rescued him from his trial by spreading laughing gas at the assembled proceedings’ attendants which included Barry Allen.
Revealing her love for the Trickster, she then took him to her family toy store and let him used any of the items for sale there. She then returned with a mock costume similar to that of the first Prank and declared her intentions to be his side-kick. Later in the episode, as the Trickster manages to brainwash the Flash and turn him into his ally, he kicks her out of the gang and literally hangs her to dry. She was rescued by Flash’s girlfriends Lockheart and Tina Mcgee. Later, she saves the Trickster again and tries to getaway with him on a modified Trickster truckmobile, but he kicks her out and escape on his own before being captured again by the Flash.
In the many appearances of the second Prank, she complains several times that the Trickster doesn’t return her love and treats her badly, only to return to him and save him time after time. These are hallmarks of Harley Quinn. Even her crazy costume was designed in the same Harlequin Commedia dell'arte style. Although she had limited screen time, Prank was an interesting character that played well against the Trickster played by Mark Hamill who would become the most popular voice actor to play the Joker in the Batman The Animated Series just one year later. Prank has never crossed over to the Flash comic books or the many DC Comics-related cartoon series and that’s too bad. Harley Quinn who was created also outside of comics has since crossed over and become a strong character there. However, there might be some licensing issues with the character of Prank as even if the series was produced by Warner Brose Studios. Since many television and cartoon characters have crossed over to comic books, how long until Prank joins her lover and maybe has a bitch fight with Harley Quinn? Let’s hope that we won’t have to wait another 20 years to see her in comic books.