(Author: Paul Dini) + (Year: 1993) + (Goodreads)
*** 3.5 stars ***
Okay, let’s start with this: I’m pretty sure you know what got me to this story.
Having previously said that I’m not a Batman girl, I never really feel any specific urge to read yet another famous Batman novel. But everyone, to one degree or another, was interested by the Harley/Joker romance in Suicide Squad. Even a bunch of people who don’t know what a comic book is managed to get into it. (I would say that the latter could be explained with an entire series of psychological issues, among which hardcore daddy issues, but that’s another topic of conversation.)
So naturally, from everywhere, I started hearing about Mad Love. THE Harley/Joker novel, it seems. And to be honest, I was impressed with how they related some of the moments to the screen. Arguably, Suicide Squad was edited and cut up enough to lose coherency, but nevertheless, I enjoyed how they included so much of the lore.
Long story short, here I am, having read Mad Love. And I would say that it’s one of the Batman stories that I’ve enjoyed the most. The reasons are as follows:
- Batman is not even a main character in this. P.S. Batman sucks. Enough of this gloomy sociopath already.
- This book is seemingly very lighthearted and funny, while also being deep and disturbing, especially in the aspects of Harley and the Joker’s abusive relationship.
- This is the first time I actually cared about Harley Quinn. She is such a famous character/villain, but I’ve never really been interested in her. Villains usually go in to categories: crazy evil and coaxed into being evil. She is neither. Harley, as we see in this book, and as I believed for the first time, is truly mentally unstable. And that was actually cool to read about, as it made her more original and interesting.
- The Joker is not almighty. He’s not much of a mastermind either. She actually outsmarts him, even though she’s crazy so it doesn’t really count as much.
And in all honesty, there were a lot of conflicting emotions in me while reading Mad Love. The more I thought about it, the more upsetting it became, albeit making me even more impressed with Dini’s novel. Because there are many moments in the book where I was like “Ha-ha-ha… oh wait…”
Which brings me to the last part of my review: it’s okay to see disturbed people in comic books. It’s 80:20 of crazies:normals, and a lot of the crazies are the heroes themselves.
It is, however, upsetting to see how many young people want to be a part of a relationship like this. Many men, especially young ones, see themselves as Jokers, usually guys who want to be cocky and impressive; but more so, it’s worse when girls feel like Harley Quinn is a role model. Because not only is she crazy and murderous, but she is in an abusive relationship with a psychopath.
And in reality, I even personally know girls who want to, as the song from Suicide Squad “eloquently” puts it, “meet a gangster to treat them better than the others do.” (or something). We all know that the issue here is that a lot of young women want to be special to the one guy who would kill everyone, but love them more than anyone, and treat them special… But if you are a girl who thinks that, and is reading this post: Get your shit together, darling. The most you would get is a special slap, because your boyfriend is an abusive creep.