harley hero

Bash your way into our early look at Titan's new Harley Quinn: Mad Love novel

Contributed by
Nov 12, 2018

Back in September, SYFY WIRE introduced you to the first in-universe Batman novel published in a partnership between Titan Books and DC Comics titled, Batman: The Killing Joke. This expanded novelization of the Eisner Award-winning 1988 graphic novel, The Killing Joke, from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland was an unexpected and exceptional addition to the Caped Crusader's 80-year-old mythology.

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Now the second in a planned lineup of three Batman novelizations is set to hit the streets on Tuesday, Nov. 13 and it's centered around Daddy's Lil Monster herself, Harley Quinn. 

Written by Paul Dini, co-creator of the sassy character, and Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love follows the same formula by acting as a more initmate version of the 1994 one-shot comic by Dini and Bruce Timm, The Batman Adventures: Mad Love, and we have an exclusive excerpt and chat with its talented creators.

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The colorful storyline returns to Harleen Quinzel's formative childhood when she witnessed her father being beaten up by criminals, and then arrested by the police. She runs away to the Coney Island amusement park, pursued into the funhouse by the thugs that harmed her father, where she experiences unimaginable horrors.

Years later, Dr. Quinzel has buried her past and is assigned to Arkham Hospital, the gloomy abode of Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. Here she becomes obsessed with the charismatic lunatic and discovers a darker sense of herself and transforms into one of the most endearing supervillains ever.

"It was a challenge and a thrill to set down the definitive chronicle of Harley's life in novel form," Dini told SYFY WIRE. "Building on the comic special originally created by Bruce Timm and myself, I set down a detailed history of Harleen Quinzel's early days, her time with the Joker and the choices she made after that. Pat Cadigan then crafted a beautifully written story that really gets into Harley's head, showing her as both a smart, strong, and very funny woman, but one who tragically falls victim to her passions and conflicting emotions." 

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"I was a DC comics reader from childhood," Cadigan explained. "Many, many years later, when my son was a little boy, he and I watched Batman: The Animated Series together. We really enjoyed it, including Harley Quinn. I never imagined that, some twenty-five years later, I would be invited to write a Harley Quinn novel in collaboration with Harley’s co-creator, Paul Dini! Harley Quinn is a complex character, strong, intelligent, and resourceful, and it was a pleasure to discover her up close and personal."

Fall in love with Harley all over again in this exclusive chapter excerpt below, taken from Harley Quinn: Mad Love by Paul Dini & Pat Cadigan, published by Titan Books, then tell us if you'll grab a hardback copy when it arrives Nov. 13.

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At the police station, the cops handed her and Daddy over to a couple of detectives. One was older, with dark brown skin and watery eyes large behind the lenses of his black-framed glasses. Here and there in his short, curly black hair were single white ones, like someone had sprinkled little white threads all over his head. He introduced himself as Detective Jack Thibodeau. His partner, Brian Li, was Chinese. He had longer hair tied back in a ponytail and, under other circumstances, Harleen would have had a crush on him. He was kind to her but his face was so serious, she couldn’t help being a little afraid of him. 

Neither detective was dressed very well. Their clothes were so rumpled, Mommy would have said they must have slept in them. Maybe they didn’t know about how to dress for an important job, like Harleen’s teacher said you were supposed to, or maybe they just didn’t care. If so, none of the other detectives did, either. 

Worse, though, they said her daddy was a bad guy, and that couldn’t possibly be true. A bad guy wouldn’t take her to Coney Island for the day and ride all the rides and play all the games with her. Millie at the diner said her daddy had a big heart—no one would say that about a bad guy. And a bad guy wouldn’t carry her all the way home. Bad guys never did that stuff; they were too busy doing bad things. 

The detectives kept calling her daddy a “con man.” Harleen had no idea what that was; she suspected it was something the cops had made up just to be mean. They claimed her daddy was behind a series of robberies and had planned one at a nightclub owned by a rich lady. But then he double-crossed the other bad guys and now everyone was looking for him, bad guys, good guys, any guys. All the guys. 

Harleen tried to tell them her daddy couldn’t have done anything wrong because he’d been having fun all day with her at Coney Island. She started to tell them for what seemed like the thousandth time about everything they’d done together. Her daddy was sitting on a chair next to Detective Thibodeau’s desk and he suddenly pulled her onto his lap. 

“Let me talk to her,” he said to the detectives and swiveled so they were facing away from them. Harleen wrapped her arms around his neck again, glad he wasn’t handcuffed anymore so he could hug her back. “Honey, these guys are just doing their job,” he said, speaking barely above a whisper. “But they can’t do anything if you keep interrupting.” 

“But—” Harleen started. 

“But nothing.” Daddy pressed his finger against her lips. “This is going to take a little while so you have to be my good girl and be patient, okay?” 

“You want me to call your wife to come get her?” Detective Thibodeau asked. 

Daddy turned back to him with Harleen still on his lap and shook his head. “No, Sharon needs her sleep. We’ve got three in diapers at home.” He looked around, then pointed at an empty bench along the nearest wall. “Harleen, how about you sit over there and wait for me?” 

She heaved an enormous sigh. “Okay.” 

“And maybe the detectives could find someone to sit with you?” Daddy added. 

Detective Li took Harleen’s hand and walked her over to the bench. “I know you don’t understand what’s going on,” he said as he sat down next to her. 

“Yeah, I do,” she said. “You’re being mean to my daddy.” 

“That’s not—” The detective stopped, hesitated. “We don’t want to be mean to your daddy,” he said. “But your daddy has been mean to people. A lot of people.” 

“My daddy’s never mean,” Harleen informed him, although she couldn’t help squirming a little because that wasn’t quite true. Sometimes he was mean to Mommy and Mommy was mean right back. 

“Your daddy stole money that didn’t belong to him,” Detective Li told her. “He stole jewelry, too, and other very valuable things. Stealing is a very mean thing to do.” 

Harleen’s urge to squirm vanished. The detective was trying to make her feel bad toward her daddy and that was wrong. He was her daddy. She looked up at him and she saw that he was waiting for her to agree with him that her daddy was mean. Well, he could wait forever; she’d never say that. 

“It’s wrong to steal, isn’t it?” the detective prodded. “It’s wrong and it’s mean, isn’t it? Your daddy was mean to steal, wasn’t he?” 

Harleen sat up a little straighter; something she’d overheard her mother say popped into her head. “They can spare it.” 

Detective Li’s expression changed from serious to startled. He hadn’t seen that coming, Harleen thought. Without another word, he got up and went back to his partner and her daddy, and she knew he was telling them what she’d said, like it was some great big deal. Detective Thibodeau gave her a sidelong look; maybe he was thinking about handcuffing her, too. 

But her daddy only shrugged. “She’s right—they can,” he said and winked at her, a secret wink that made her feel better, but only for a few seconds. The detectives just kept at him, asking him the same questions over and over. Harleen wanted to ask them a few questions—like, was this really their job? How did it make them good guys? Daddy still had blood all over his face and his clothes and it was getting later and later and she felt like her eyeballs were coated with sand. And now she had to go to the bathroom. 

She probably had to get special permission for that. Maybe they’d want to handcuff her, even though the Ladies’ was really close—she could see it from where she was sitting. 

Harleen tried to get someone’s attention but everyone was too busy. Even her daddy was facing away from her, talking to a third detective. Finally, she just couldn’t wait. It was probably a crime to pee your pants in a police station anyway. Nobody tried to stop her as she went into the bathroom, which smelled like it had just been hosed down with double-strength bleach. 

Afterward, Harleen started to go back to the bench, then hesitated. No one seemed to have noticed she wasn’t there anymore; they were all too busy. Detectives were bringing in other people in handcuffs and sitting them down next to desks. Once she would have taken it for granted people in handcuffs were bad guys, but now she knew better. Cops made mistakes. But they never owned up to being wrong; they just kept saying they were right until they forced everyone else to say they were right, too. 

Harleen looked over at her father and the detectives. How many times would they ask him the same questions? Were they going for a world record? 

This wasn’t how the best day ever was supposed to end. Her daddy was supposed to take her home and put her to bed. She’d be so knocked out she’d sleep through the argument he and Mommy would have about his keeping her out so late. 

Instead, her daddy got punched out by some bad guys and when she’d brought the police, they’d treated him like he was the bad guy. None of them cared her daddy was hurt. No one had said, That was wrong. They shouldn’t have done that to you. 

Everybody said cops were supposed to protect and help people. Harleen saw now that they only helped some people; whoever those people were, she and Daddy weren’t included. 

The swinging double doors marked “exit” weren’t locked or even guarded. Cops and detectives were going in and out, sometimes with prisoners. Harleen remembered her daddy saying you could go anywhere you wanted as long as you looked like you knew what you were doing. 

I’m supposed to do this, she said silently as she headed for the double doors. I’m right where I should be, I’m official, don’t worry. I’m not the droid you’re looking for. 

No one gave her a second look as she went downstairs, out the front entrance, and onto the street. Harleen made herself walk at the same confident, unhurried pace until she was almost a block away from the station house. Then she broke into a run.

Copyright © 2018 DC Comics. BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics.WB SHIELD: ™ & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s18)

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