Harley Quinn: Mad Love is a major step in the right direction for this new line of DC Novels. It’s an effective expansion of a popular story featuring a pop culture superstar.

This novel kicks off with a young Harleen Quinzel, who finally gets a fun day with “Daddy”. As the night unfolds, the truth comes out and the innocent girl is traumatized for life. We follow her quickly through her teens and college and join her at Gotham’s very own Arkham Asylum. Much of the story takes place inside the walls of the feared establishment, and we witness her descent into madness, and her evolution into Harley Quinn.

If you’re hesitant on giving this book a shot, don’t be. It’s a carefully paced, emotional study of the DC character that expands her 26-year history but never disrespects it. Sure, we’ve seen the cartoon Mad Love and even read the comic of the same name. But here, we are treated with so much emotion and understanding behind her moods and motives.

It should surprise no one that Paul Dini is behind this book. The man can’t fail when it comes to the world of Gotham, let alone a beloved character that he created. Along with Pat Cadigan, the authors intricately plot Harleen’s inspiration for a life in gymnastics, psychiatry and Joker studies.

Yes, Mistah J plays the definitive role in turning Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn.

I think that’s what sets this book far and above the first novel in this DC series. While The Killing Joke was about an event, this was about a character. We quickly attach ourselves to someone and witness the ups and downs of her life. For the longest time, Harley has always been deemed a villain. However here, we can easily side with her and understand where she’s coming from. That’s not easy to do, since we thought we already knew everything we needed to know or even cared about with her.

And the endings were pitch perfect. The first time I thought it was over, I had a smile on my face. Then the story continued, relating to another aspect of the book I’d completely forgot about. Let’s just say it all comes full circle.

Harley Quinn: Mad Love does exactly what this new line of books should with beloved stories: expand the original but never disrespect it. Paul Dini and Pat Cardigan respect why everyone loves Harley Quinn, and delicately add effective touches to her long and complicated backstory.

If you’re a Harley Quinn fan and can read, I highly recommend this book…..puddin’. – Ryan Lower