Monday, October 17, 2011

Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories (comics)

Writer: Paul Dini
Artists: Bruce Timm, Matt Wagner
Collects: The Batman Adventure: Mad Love, The Batman Adventures Annual #1 and material from #2, The Batman Adventures Holiday Special

Batman: The Animated Series is, without question, among the ranks of definitive interpretations of the Dark Knight. Such is the quality of the show that even when it was having an off day it was still highly entertaining. It's one of those kids cartoons that really defines "all ages".

So it should come as no surprise that the comic based on the show - which was also frequently written by Paul Dini and drawn by Bruce Timm, the guys chiefly behind it - is similar fun. Though I guess it pushes it a bit with the all ages thing - some things they get away with here and even in the cartoon could be downright risque for a show targeted at kids - it manages to get away with it. Truly, these men are the masters of their craft.

Obviously, Mad Love is the star of the show here. If you've watched the cartoon I'm sure you've seen the episode that adapted it. It won all sorts of awards and took that whole risque thing as far as they could push it. It's also a shockingly realistic portrayal of abuse for a show about a dude who dresses up and fights crime. I can't really say which is better; the comic included here is the original and has a few more scenes, but the episode was a lean, mean machine. Either way it's great and makes the volume worth it on its own, but I'm sure you knew that.

The rest of the volume is filled out with various stories from elsewhere in the Batman Adventures comic series. Most of these - save the holiday piece - were not adapted to the show. All of them are great fun. The simplest way to put it is that these comics are essentially like lost episodes of the show, right down to the art, most of which is done by Bruce Timm. I couldn't give more of a ringing endorsement if I tried.

We also get some commentary on the comics from Paul Dini and Bruce Timm to round it all out, which is also an interesting read.

The Score: 8.5 out of 10

Just get your hands on it somehow. Even if you've seen the Mad Love episode, the comic is like the "Directors Cut" of the episode. All the other stories are worth the time as well. There's really no reason not to jump on this; these guys prove, as they always did with the show, that you don't always need a complex plot to have a fun Batman adventure.

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