Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories by Paul Dini

details
Title: Batman.
Story-Arc: Mad Love and Other Stories.
Writer(s): Paul Dini & Bruce Timm.
Illustrator(s)Bruce Timm, Rich Burchett, John Byrne, Dan DeCarlo, Klaus Janson, Glenn Murakami, Mike Parobeck & Matt Wagner!
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: September 6th 2011.
Pages: 208.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401231156.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

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Have I mentioned how big of a fan I am of the classic Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)? It is the prime example of quantity and quality in television, and it withstands the test of time like no other animation today. Developed by Bruce Timm with major contribution as a writer by Paul Dini, the show has lived long enough to be known by fans as an indisputable classic in the superhero game. The recent true story shared by Paul Dini himself in the graphic novel Dark Knight: A True Batman Story also cemented my utmost respect and love for the mastermind behind some of the greatest stories out there. Do you know what else he is credited for in his long list of accomplishments as a creator? The origin story of the punny and crazy clown character known as Harley Quinn.

In Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories, writer Paul Dini and artist Bruce Timm collaborate to create one of the most iconic stories ever conceived in DC Comics’ history. Unveiling not only the deranged transformation of Arkham Asylum’s psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel into the strangely beloved sidekick of Joker, it also highlights the unrequited love that has taken form in an abusive relationship from which she struggles to exit yet longs to believe in. The story thus presents us her hopeless attempt to seduce the Joker of her worthiness as she takes it upon herself to finish off the one person getting in her way of obtaining the Joker’s complete and undivided attention, and that’s none other than Batman himself. This volume also contains several stories of varying quality that either Paul Dini or Bruce Timm have worked on and that withholds the characteristic artwork style of Batman: The Animated Series.

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Many do not like the very foundation on which the infamous relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker is based on, but the origin story shows that it is not glorified and that the consequences, through light humour, of such a toxic relationship are real. Then again, no one said that these two villains were to be put on a pedestal to be the example to follow in real-life. The origin story we get here is quite brilliantly conceived and truly delivers Harley’s personality without ever stumbling. The puns are hilarious, the dialogues are kept to a minimum and always delivers the punch, and the artwork is heavily reminiscent of the classic Batman animated TV series. The latter even gives this story an edge as the style is too iconic to despise and easily pulls on your nostalgic cords to make each read a memorable and fun one.

All the other stories that are added in this collection tackle various different themes, and are all entertaining in their own way. Most of them also tackle ideas of rehabilitation, such as the first story in Batman Adventures Annual #1 where Scarecrow, Harley Quinn and the Ventriloquist vainly attempt to diverge from their life of villainy. The last story from Batman: Black and White #1 called Two of a Kind is also beautiful and cruel as it shows Harvey Dent being cured from his dissociative identity disorder. Although short, its ending will leave you feeling a void in your heart and in awe at Two-Face’s inevitable fate. There are also other stories with less relevance but yet still so entertaining, such as Batman seeking the help of Etrigan to stop Ra’s Al-Ghul from bringing chaos to Gotham, or the holiday special featuring Batgirl as a thief is on the loose in a shopping mall.

In this yet-again sterling creation, Paul Dini delivers with the help of Bruce Timm the origin story to one of the greatest—or at least iconic—villains whose mad love for the Joker draws an abusive relationship that defines their dynamite duo.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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This story arc was later adapted into an episode on The New Batman Adventures (Season 2 Episode 11)! Check out the clip above for one of the best moments in this series!

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35 comments

  • I love the old animated series. I really like this retro art style. I thought this would be too kiddy for me, but the story content and delivery are for more mature audiences.

    We just bought S1. The reviews on the site were bad, but i know where to get my legit comic advice.

    To the Batcave, Chum!
    Thanks, Puddin!
    Oops, I mean, thanks, Lashaan.
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • What we bought was not from this clip. The ‘Mad Love’ anime that came up and we bought, was from 2008. It is called ‘Motion Comics’ but there is very little actual animation. These are low-end, in that they are still pics with a little bit of partial movement. The story is the same, and the title is the same, but the animation is different. We are still attempting to find ‘The New Batman Adventures’.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I love that theme!!! And if you ever have the chance, you HAVE to give the animated movies that tied to the animated series, especially the 1993 movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It is considered one of the best animated movies of all time!

          Liked by 1 person

      • Ohhh I see what you got your hands on. Still, I recommend finding and checking out Batman: The Animated Series (2 seasons of around 80 episodes, each 20 minutes long). I’ll always vouch for its greatness and recommend it to anyone whose interested in Bats and his antics. The New Batman Adventures is the sequel to that series and looks pretty similar to the original series too!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Same here. I have a weak spot for it. Noooo way are these kid’ish. It’s a classic that any age category can enjoy and appreciate on different levels. Mad Love for example is the perfect example. The writing and sometimes the behaviours show some discrete sexual innuendo too, but on a deeper level, you understand all these characters (Joker and Harley Quinn) even more and why they do what they do.

      Oh man! Forget the reviews you read, which is by the way very odd. Batman: The Animated Series is a classic! Just the intro song/sequence makes my heart melt. It’s soooo good!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad to hear someone who shares my love for this story, Mogsy!!!! 😀 And yesss!!! I am sooo looking forward to reading it soon. I’ll definitely share my thoughts on it. Actually really happy that Paul Dini also worked on that story. It makes much more sense than having other take your work and try and build on it (i.e. The Killing Joke novelization, although it wasn’t bad at all, just different and fun). Do you plan on reading it too? 😮

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, I do! I got a review copy actually, which is how I found out about it. And I agree with you 100% about the original creator working on the novel, no one understands the character better! I can’t wait to compare notes with you after we both read it 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sweeeet! 😛 I was quite excited since the day they announced these latest novelizations (three of them) although still skeptical on the idea of novelizations, especially by other authors besides the creator. But Mad Love will surely be a much more intriguing one! I look forward to your review if you ever read it before me too then! 😀

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  • I loved the Batman animated series. It was sooo good 😊 Unfortunately not every season was released here on dvd, but I have managed to acquire quite a few of them nonetheless. It’s been a series that has a lot rewatch quality and that is still a joy to watch 😊😊
    This one sounds really cool: after Batman, Harley Quinn is one of my favorite DC characters, and for that alone I would buy this. It sounds really good, and a bonus is that it feels like the series of old as well 😊😊 Great post Lashaan 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, I’m so happy to hear that you are a fan too. It’s an instant classic to me. It jumps into my mind whenever I’m asked about it or am asked about a classic animated series.

      Oh, you should totally check this out, especially if you haven’t seen the episode that adapts this story arc in the New Batman Adventures series (sequel to Batman: The Animated Series). Then again, even if you did see it, this collection is too good to pass on! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • OOh I so love the drawing here! It is light and funny and based on what you told us fitting the book to a T!

    Liked by 1 person

  • the very foundation on which the infamous relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker is based on….. it’s dark and deep and twisted and most times you need some dark humour to bring it to life even more vividly… and scarily! Fully enjoyed this review and those illustrations seem perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! It’s far from being glorified and with villains, you just have to acknowledge that it can be as insane and abusive (although they don’t kill each other or beat each other to a pulp anyways). Thank you so much for reading, Nina!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ah, i know almost nothing about these characters!
    I should check out the series, it looks good. I can’t see myself trying to catch up on so much reading 😀 there are just so many!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yesss. I remember watching Batman: The Animated Series when Harley Quinn was first introduced. I immediately fell in love, as did the rest of the world, it seems. I remember reading Mad Love as a stand alone graphic novel back in the 90s. Is this a compilation with additional comics? I would love to re-read this.

    Thanks for sharing The New Batman Adventures clip. I haven’t seen this series yet– however, in this Quinzel seems to be a fully-fledged doctor. One of the details which makes Harley Quinn’s origin story so compelling to me, and makes this horribly toxic relationship realistic, is that she is merely interning at Arkham when this all goes down. I always interpreted this as The Joker emotionally manipulating a young, inexperienced woman who is trying to prove herself to the world. I understand why that might be omitted in a 4 minute origin story, however. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it’s a collection with other stories that include Paul Dini/Bruce Timm as creators. 😀 It’s definitely a nice volume to have, especially if you enjoyed Mad Love. There are also a couple of page-long commentary by those two in between/before some stories. They give some nice insight on their thought process during the creation! 😀

      Yep! The New Batman Adventures is a sequel to Batman: The Animated Series, and just as good if you ask me. More is always good if you ask me! 😉 Hahahah Joker’s manipulation is quite intriguing, and honestly, you have to wonder if there’s anything authentic in their relationship at any point in time too! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have 100% added this collection, AND The New Batman to my to read/watch list. I love the idea of a sequel to a favorite TV show– the similarity of the animation touches my nostalgia so closely. 🙂

        Yeah, their relationship has always been a hot mess. As horrible as it is, I love the drama of those moments where you wonder if the Joker DOES care. I’m a sucker.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review my friend, I have this and the volumes of Batman Adventures lined up and ready to read now I’m diving into the phenomenal blu-ray release of Batman: TAS (have you picked it up? It’s a truly amazing set and the episodes look and sound better than ever).

    Your love for Batman: TAS equals mine, I loved it at a younger age but I ADORE it as an adult – the quality of the stories and the themes have as you rightly point out totally stood the test of time. It’s incredible to thing that Harley Quinn was created as a minor supporting character in the series and how popular she subsequently has become – the fact that Harley was quickly added to the regular DC universe is a testament to the work of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in bringing such an iconic and beloved character to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks man! I really needed to dive back into something that was sure to be good after all those New Age of Heroes volumes I’ve been through lately. This really can’t disappoint. Also laughed at the extra content at the end showing the things that they had to omit from publishing before controversy struck hahaha (it’s related to Batgirl and her cloth-changing in the middle of a crisis; hope you get the chance to read those panels at some point hahah).

      I really did want to get the new blu-ray release but it seemed like it was a limited edition released in the States (the one that includes those three mini-POP figures). I’ll have to look into the other one that seems accessible internationally. Glad to hear it’s worth every penny/euro! 😀

      And yes! Amazing how the character became so iconic. Especially today with Margot Robbie having portrayed the character on the big screen. There are still people out there who throw tomatoes at the character and anyone who appreciates the character for what Harley Quinn represents, but, that aside, she’s definitely an original character in the DC Universe! 😀

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      • Darn, it’s limited edition over here as well but doesn’t seem to have sold out yet. No doubt Warner’s will release a standard edition eventually but it’s absolutely worth it – like seeing the series for the first time again with all the warm fuzzy feeling it had 25 years ago!

        Liked by 1 person

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