Written and drawn by the masterminds behind Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, this epic reveals the origins of Harley Quinn as she proves her love to The Joker by trying to eliminate the Dark Knight on her own! – DC COMICS
After writing a review for The Death and Return for Superman: Omnibus, the comic story arc that defined my childhood, I decided to start off the new year by reading some ’90’s titles that were integral to my childhood. And what better reading to start off with than “Mad Love”, the classic single issue brainchild of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, who also created the landmark cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, which was my entry in the world of Superheroes, as was the case with most 90’s children.
Admittedly, I have a very strong bias towards Dini and Timm’s art style, despite being far less defined and much more cartoonish than what I’m generally accustomed to in a comic. On the surface level, Timm’s artwork would suggest a more light-hearted story, a far cry from the grim writing of the likes of Alan Moore or Frank Miller. While that is somewhat true, as these pages have their fair share of over-the-top, slapstick art, yet for those with a nostalgic attachment to the Animated Series, it’s something you’ll likely overlook from your first read at worst, or some to appreciate at best.
Story wise, Mad Love is a breath of Fresh air. Perhaps due to its tie-in with the then ongoing cartoon, Dini doesn’t complicate the plot the way many DC authors due, usually setting their work apart for more mature readers. Some may see this simplification as a handicap, unless you grew up with the cartoon, where it’s all but quintessential.
The only exception are the not-so-subtle sexual innuendos; be it Harleen Quinzel “sleeping” her way into getting good grades, or the skimpy, revealing night gown while trying to seduce the Joker. By modern standards, it’s G-Rated, although in context with the time it was written, the young cartoon audience probably kept Timm’s art from getting any raunchier (and the nostalgia only makes his recent film projects – namely The Killing Joke and Batman and Harley Quinn – seem painfully awkward).
For those who love Dini or Timm’s work, this is a great salute to bygone times. It still holds up after 24 years, and it might as well have been written yesterday.