MAD LOVE with Kate (and Dan)
::The Asylum in St. Paul looks like it’s been burglarized. Comic books are scattered (gently) on the floor. Graphic novels cover the countertops. The couch is covered with convention lanyards and wristbands. Dan and Kate are napping on the one open patch of floor in the kitchen. Dan is clutching his sketch book::
Kate: ::wakes up with a start:: I DON’T WANNA WEAR THE FISHBOWL ON MY HEAD!!
Dan: ::snorts:: Imsorrywhat?
K: Never mind. 3 comic conventions in 4 weeks really takes its toll on a gal. The cosplayers are haunting my dreams now. They were demanding that I cosplay as Aquaman, but they didn’t think he could breathe on land on account of the time he spends underwater so they thought he would need some kind of water breathing-thing and the solution was to make me wear a literal fishbowl with fishes on my head. I didn’t want to wear the fishbowl on my head.
D: Going from C2E2 in Chicago to Wizard World in Minneapolis and then to MSP Comic Con in St. Paul, all within a month is tiring! Whew! Admittedly it isn’t affecting my dreams like you, but I’m exhausted. So much walking and talking and comic booking and the walking. So much walking.
K: And you have to stop every few feet because someone is snapping pictures of the cosplayers in the action poses. But stopping is totally worth it because their superhero costumes are amazing! You remember the Hawkman we saw in Chicago with REAL FEATHERS on his wings? Those were beautiful!
D: Don’t forget about the couple we saw at Wizard World cosplaying as Marge Gunderson and the not-Steve-Buscemi-bad guy and the wood chipper from the movie FARGO! They win the “Cosplayers of the Year” award from Team Malmon!
K: You know what I didn’t see as much of this year when it came to cosplay? The Steampunk People. The ones with the tiny hats and the goggles. Wonder what happened to them?
D: I think they got swapped out for the multitudes of Harley Quinns we saw. There were many, many women dressed up as the woman that wants to be The Joker’s girlfriend.
K: “Harley Quinn”? I know she’s a character from the Batman books. But there’s like two of them now? The one dressed as the classic harlequin? And the newer version, with the pigtails and the torn clothing? And I think she’s in the new Suicide Squad movie? I’m so confused.
D: ::puts on professor hat:: Harley Quinn is a member of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery. Writer Paul Dini created her for the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES cartoon. He and the animated TV show’s director, Bruce Timm, fleshed out her origin story in the 1994 BATMAN ADVENTURES: MAD LOVE one-shot issue. She’s a great example of a comic character that started on TV and became so popular, she then moved into the comic books. She’s been a fan-favorite since Day 1.
K: You haven’t answered the question “Which one is she”?
D: “Pigtails Harley” came about with DC’s New52. Let’s focus on “Original Formula Quinn”. I just happened to pick up MAD LOVE at MSP Comic Con this past weekend. It’s on the counter someplace…I forget where… ::gently stacks graphic novels on counter:: Here it is! Move some of the dirty laundry off the couch and read this. Then you’ll know exactly who Miss Harley Quinn is.
K: Why do we have so much dirty laundry lying around? We were only out of town for one weekend. We gotta get it together… But first I need to read MAD LOVE.
K: That is one troubled, love sick gal. They say love makes you do crazy things, but Harley Quinn takes it to a new level.
D: She just wants to make her Puddin’ happy and love her back. You might know him as The Joker. We learn that they met when she was a psychologist at Arkham Asylum and The Joker was a patient there. One thing leads to another, she’s smitten with him, and then he escapes from the asylum. I swear, that joint has a revolving door. I bet even I could escape from there.
Here… Help me fasten this straight jacket…
K: Batman returns The Joker to the asylum a little beat up. Ok, a lot beat up. Harley won’t stand for this abuse of her love, so she springs into action and a new villain is born. She goes from being known as “Harleen Quinzel” to “Harley Quinn”. And guess what her costume is? Just guess?
D: A harlequin?
K: You knew that?
D: Yes. I handed you the book to read. Remember?
K: I’m still a little groggy. In MAD LOVE, The Joker attempts to kill Batman, again, and he fails, again. Harley Quinn decides that the best way to cheer up her Puddin’ is to kidnap and take out the Dark Knight herself. She has visions of a future with The Joker and she isn’t going to let some rich guy with a cool belt get in her way!
D: Of course her plans are foiled and Batman lives to see another day.
K: SPOILERS, MAN!!
D: The book came out in over 20 years ago. Batman’s been in, like, 2000 different comic books, cartoons, and movies during that time. She clearly does not take him out in MAD LOVE.
K: Just looking out for our tens of readers. ::whispers:: Sorry, guys.
D: What makes MAD LOVE look different from other Batman books is that it is created by the team that worked on the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES cartoon. The art looks like cells from the cartoon: from Batman’s super square jaw to the bright colors that pop off the page.
::rolls around on floor fighting the straight jacket::
K: The pacing of the storytelling is just great. You get backstory interwoven with current day action. It’s clear that writer Paul Dini knows how to keep his audience interested in the action. At one point you think that crazy Harley Quinn will pull off her plan to feed Batman to a tank of piranhas. How will the Dark Knight get out of this sticky situation? His hands are tied and he’s hanging upside down? Does he have his Bat Piranha Repellent on him?
D: I think that we already established that Batman lives to see another day.
K: You don’t understand “building up suspense” do you?
::mutters:: Mother fudging straight jacket.
K: I don’t remember seeing a lot of women with that goofy harlequin hat at the cons, but there were a lot of women in red and black costumes that looked kinda like Harley Quinn. I think they usually had a Joker walking around with them. Does Harley carry around a huge hammer? ‘Cause she didn’t have one in this book.
D: Like I said, Harley Quinn has gone through a bit of a makeover with the New 52. She’s ditched the harlequin get up in favor of something that shows a little more skin. She’s also less obsessed with The Joker and is out causing her own mischief with her oversized hammer.
K: Gotta say, I much prefer the Original Formula Quinn. It’s such a perfect look, and showing more skin just comes off as pandering to me. Now the question is, where did I hide those straight jacket keys?
D: I CAN STILL ESCAPE THIS PADDED CELL! YOU JUST WATCH!
K: Whatever you say, Puddin’.