A New DC Comics Novel by Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan!
Hello, El Moochadores! A few days ago I finished reading another fine novel from Titan Books, and DC Comics! So, settle in for a long winded review from an aging geek, and his half baked ideas. Here we go!
Written by Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan – Harley Quinn: Mad Love, tells how a promising young psychiatrist/gymnast becomes a codependent henchwoman to one of Gotham City’s most notorious criminals! Also, with brief appearances by Batman. Here’s the proper synopsis:
When she was only seven years old, Harleen Quinzel witnessed her father being beaten up by thugs, and then arrested by the police. That night she ran away to the safest place she could think of: Coney Island amusement park. But there, pursued into the Funhouse by the men who brutalised her father, she beheld unimaginable horrors.
Years later, Harleen has put her past behind her, and used her intelligence and ambition to escape her childhood of poverty with a career in psychiatry. Assigned to her first position at Arkham Hospital, she will discover, deep in the asylum, something dangerous and alluring, something quite unlike anything else she has ever known before: The Joker. Because why would you settle for love, when you could have MAD LOVE?
Like most my reviews; I tend to treat this like in-class art college reviews. Say something I liked, then let loose with everything I didn’t like. I really liked the cover art…
Okay, I dug more than that, but Mad Love was kind of weird read. I was about half way through it before I realized this was all based on stuff I had already seen in the animated series. I’m not dissing on a novelization of that world, but seeing the books cover, I was kind of expecting a more original story. I think I might have enjoyed this book more, if I had started imagining characters and styles from the animated series from the beginning of the book. I loved the Batman cartoon and the Bruce Timm style, so switching gears mid-read and imagining a cartoon Harley and Joker, did make the book more fun to read. I also liked re-living some of the moments from the animated series. Harley cracking wise and pissing off the joker is always a lot of fun.
Though it does bum me out that they didn’t create a more original (and maybe darker) adult story. I think there were a lot of missed opportunities in this book that would’ve made some stories I would’ve really loved to have read. For example; Towards the end of Mad Love, Harley is institutionalized, and recovering from her time with the Joker. I think an entire book (comic or novel) could’ve been based on what added up to only a few paragraphs in Mad Love. That time has all the elements for a good story. Harley is vulnerable and at her weakest, and in a place full of crazy ex-criminals and mutants. Toss in some corrupt doctors and a Batman and I think that’s where the story is really at. Growing up, I had a front row seat to codependency and the abusive alcoholics it invited in. It was scary, and messed up a few lives. So, I would really be rooting for Harley to make it through, if she could.
Not that it wasn’t also really weird to base an entire book around a sociopath killer, too. I think I got a whole other rant in me about forcing villains into the protagonist slot, but I need to wrap this review up.
All in all, for me Harley Quinn: Mad Love was a good read, so long as I had the right context. You can get your own copy of Mad Love online through Titan Books, or at your local book and comic book store! Shop local!
Check out a few Harley Quinn clips from Batman the Animated series that may appear in the book. Oh, yeah; more spoilers!