01/09/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 208 page hardback graphic novel. Price: £16.99 (UK), $19.99 (US), $22.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84856-245-5.
check out website: www.titanbooks.comand www.dccomics.com
I should point out from the start this graphic novel is not Batman in the regular DC Universe but the spin-off from the animation series. After reading 'Harley And Ivy' last year, it wasn't difficult to drop back into the rather stylised more cartoony style by artist Bruce Timm.
This book isn't a follow-on from last year neither but a scattershot of stories featuring Harley Quinn, occasional amore of the Joker. The first and title story 'Mad Love' explains her origin as the Joker's psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum before falling for the alleged clown prince of crime as she springs him.
There is very much a love/hate relationship between the two characters. Harley intensely loves the Joker. He on the other hand often hates her for rushing ahead with his plans. With such bonding, things can only go wrong.
The second story was taken from Batman AdventuresAnnual # 1 is less Harley orientated but has Batman and Alfred reviewing felons who were giving up their life of crime. If anything, the story is more about the Ventriloquist who is thwarted by Mitzi Magic, who is being canned from her puppet show and seeking revenge. Beautifully mad-cap. Other sections of this story include art by John Byrne and Klaus Jansen.
There's a hilarious story which was supposed to be about detectives Bullock and Montoya posing as Santa Claus and his elf on a stake-out with Batgirl coming to the rescue against Clayface. With artist Bruce Timm's notes at the back of the book there is also an alternative version showing Barbara Gordon changing into Batgirl in the middle of a crowd that DC said no to. More importantly, what happened to the days when a crime-fighter wore their fighting togs under their civies?!! At least in the middle of winter that would make sense.
The story 'Demons' teams up Batman with Jason Blood and his alter-ego, Etrigan aka the Demon, against Ra's Al Ghul and his daughter, Talia, as they steal a stone slab that can draw up another demon. This is very much a homage to the late artist/creator Jack Kirby with the demons very much in his style.
To end on, there's a Two-Face story by Bruce Timm called 'Two Of A Kind' showing that even good intentions are thwarted when there's two of everything.
With much of this book drawn by Bruce Timm, one can't get but get used to his style of work. Even with simplified expressions, he does get emotions over well and just when you think that's all to his work, the Two-Face' work even pulls a touch of Eisner into the proceedings. Great stuff.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA