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Joker Harley Criminal Sanity 1 Main

"Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by DC Black Label


Written by Kami Garcia
Illustrated by Mico Suayan and Mike Mayhew
Lettered by Richard Starkings
2019, 32 Pages, $5.99
Comic released on October 9th, 2019


The Joker and Harley Quinn have been through quite a lot in their storied relationship. While they may not be dating anymore, there's still a strong connection between these two. Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity puts a new spin on that link, showing the Joker as a psychopathic killer – which is not that far of a stretch – and Harley as a forensic psychiatrist with a personal stake at taking him down.

Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity is framed like a chilling crime procedural, although one that is far darker than anything you'd see on broadcast television. Writer Kami Garcia plays with some of the tropes of the genre along with some of the stereotypical characters we see along the way. For example, Maddox is the tough but dumb detective who jumps to conclusions without doing the real police work.

If you were expecting the flighty, comical Harley Quinn, you are in the wrong place. This is a hard-nosed, determined woman looking for justice. The Joker killed her roommate, Edie, five years ago and she's been hunting the man ever since. Letterer Richard Starkings presents Harley's narration in uneven caption boxes, almost as if they were written over redacted lines from a document.

Click images to enlarge

Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity bounces between the past and the present. The scenes in the current day from artist Mico Suayan are shown in a stoic black-and-white. They're exquisitely detailed and look like real people. This is interesting because the flashback sequences from artist Mike Mayhew also look real, but more like photographs that have been rendered just a bit to make some changes. While the former looks amazing, the latter looks stiff and awkward, not to mention a little silly. This is a very difficult style to pull off and bouncing between the two like this really took me out of the story.

There's another moment towards the end of Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity that really threw me. Harley is teaching a class at Gotham University about psychopaths and serial killers. She goes into great detail about the differentiations between being depraved and psychotic. I'm sure this will be a factor in her hunt for the Joker, but it goes on for way too long as Harley recounts the stories of Ed Gein, Richard Chase, and Ted Bundy.

Click images to enlarge

I understand the point that's trying to be made, but it kills any and all momentum of the story. We're literally in a history lesson at this point. We're here because of the characters and this new take on them, not to listen to them go on and on about serial killers.

I love this new perspective on the Joker and Harley's connection. I'm glad that Harley is shown in such a strong role and judging by how she feels about this case, she's going to tear the Joker apart when she finally gets her hands on him. This is particularly interesting because the clown prince of crime doesn't even appear in this issue. He's referenced quite a lot, but never actually seen. The story is a little clunky at times and the art can be awkward in the flashbacks, but there's still a long way to go in this nine-issue series. Now that the foundation has been set, I'm eager to see where this journey takes the characters.


Story: threestars Cover
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Art: threestars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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