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.
Release Date: September 6th 2011.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
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!