The week before Valentine’s Day felt like an appropriate (or entirely inappropriate?) time to highlight the cover of The Batman Adventures: Mad Love:
From back before Harley Quinn was everywhere, this one-shot told Harley’s origin, which I’d imagine was deemed too adult for the Fox Kids version of Batman: The Animated Series. (The Kids’ WB! version later did air an episode based on Mad Love.) As you can likely tell from looking at this book’s spine and edges, my copy of Mad Love has been kicking around with me since close to its original release (and shoved in at least one shoebox during that time). While writing this post, however, I deduced that the copy I have is not the original version of the book. My version is likely a second printing, which makes sense given that the back cover states the story had already won an Eisner and Harvey Award.
This is one of those Batman comics I’m surprised my parents let me buy. Look at that tagline! “Psychotic, mass-murdering clowns and the women who love them.” It’s a fantastic tagline, but it doesn’t scream “give this book to children” to me. However, my parents frequently bought me copies of the monthly The Batman Adventures comics, so they probably thought this book would be appropriate, too. And to give them credit a) I’m fairly certain I bought this book myself (though it has been 20+ years) and b) nothing in the book is actually inappropriate for children, despite Mad Love venturing into slightly more mature waters than The Batman Adventures proper.
All that said, this Bruce Timm-illustrated cover is a classic, featuring that iconic Timm Batman silhouette, a Harley Quinn pin-up, and a creepy, pin-eyed Joker face, working together to give the vibe of a film noir movie poster or pulp detective novel cover. The story inside is just as much of a classic, and a good reminder that Harley Quinn has been a great, tragic character since her inception. Rereading Mad Love, it’s not hard to see how Harley ended up getting so big.
(Want to check out more posts in the Cool Comic Covers series? If so, click here.)