Comic Book Review – Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity
Ricky Church reviews Joker / Harley: Criminal Sanity…
Since its beginnings in Batman: The Animated Series Almost 30 years ago, Harley Quinn grew into a huge figure with a large popular following. His origin story of a psychiatrist who treated the Joker before being manipulated and falling in love with him is one of the most tragic aspects for any villain in the Batman Thugs Gallery and is equally popular for writers and artists to explore. Joker / Harley: Criminal Common Sense from writer Kami Garcia is a new take on her origin story, but with a very fresh and unique twist that doesn’t play into any of the traditional elements of Harley’s origin. The book’s psychological horror approach is superbly done and with absolutely fantastic and gruesome artwork Criminal mental health is a must read for any Harley Quinn and Joker fan.
Instead of being a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn is a criminal psychological profiler for the GCPD, working with Commissioner Gordon on a number of cases. Originally trained to be a psychiatrist, she was drawn into criminal psychology years before when her best friend and roommate was murdered by a serial killer known as Joker. When a new brutal murder streak begins across Gotham, Harley must determine if this is the work of a new killer or if Joker has returned and evolved his method, potentially leading him down a path. dark in his psyche.
Garcia writes a very compelling and compelling story in the vein of Man hunter, Se7en and Zodiac. She captures many tropes found in psychological thrillers, but also puts her own spin on them. Much of the story is devoted to the nature of evil and how exactly you define insanity, something perfectly illustrated (both in Garcia’s screenplay and in Mico Suayan’s illustrations) during a talk that Harley gives on many infamous serial killers in history and their behavior, control and justification for their heinous acts. Using this approach on The Joker, one of fiction’s most evil and craziest villains, works incredibly well, as Garcia finds something new to say about Harley and Joker and the depths they’re ready to go. walk to be successful.
Harley is quite an interesting character in Criminal mental health. Her intellect is on display throughout the book as she examines numerous crime scenes that become more and more gruesome as each is revealed. Harley is strong, committed, and has a dry, sarcastic mind as she has to put up with a few ignorant investigators who don’t take her theories as seriously as they should. Garcia expresses her thoughts and emotions quite well, which makes it easy to side with her and see how she is able to make such insightful and often precise deductions. While there is a tragic element to Harley with the death of her friend and the mistreatment of her childhood, she is not exactly sympathetic as she dons a harsh exterior and buries her feelings, preferring to focus on her job. to try to discover the identity of the Joker. This exposes a different kind of vulnerability than her usual interpretation as it puts her in danger of following a darker path of revenge if she doesn’t become a bigger target for Joker than she already is. Her evolution is well plotted and scrutinized, creating an intricate character arc for this new version of Harley.
The Joker, meanwhile, is billed as a very creepy and deadly brain killer. Garcia eschews grinning laughter, slapstick guns, and a dark sense of humor for something that feels much more real and dangerous. While Joker generally works best without an origin or story, the one Garcia presents works against the backdrop of the story’s serial killer lens. Joker is as deadly as he is clever, driven by a singular nature to constantly evolve his methods of death to shock Gotham. Throughout the book, Joker is presented in a very chilling way through dark colors and facial expressions alongside Garcia’s cold, precise dialogue. It’s one of the more disturbing characterizations of the Joker that still feels very much in the character, even as his obsession with Batman is replaced by Harley Quinn.
As for the Dark Knight, he’s barely mentioned throughout the story and only appears once from a distance. Her absence isn’t really felt, however, thanks to the focus on Harley and her investigation. Under another writer, his absence might have been more noticeable, but Garcia’s characterization of Harley and Joker is strong enough that it doesn’t even miss Batman’s full appearance. The pace of the story keeps everything engaging as the tension continuously mounts, even when it switches to a flashback of Joker or Harley’s upbringing. The only small problem is that the ending feels a bit rushed in the final moments, but it’s still a very exciting and satisfying climax.
If we haven’t said it enough, the artwork of Criminal mental health is both gorgeous and crazy. Mico Suayan, Jason Badower, and Mike Mayhew provide excellent visuals throughout the book. It’s interesting that parts of Suayan and Badower’s story are shown in black and white, giving off a strong film noir vibe with only pops of color in some of the footage to emphasize a character or moment, like makeup, fire or blood. Mayhew’s flashbacks give a cohesive style and feel that compliments Suayan and Badower’s work as Annette Kowk merges them with her vibrant colors popping off the page. It is especially effective in the present when any sort of color makes a lot more sense compared to black and white imagery. It is certainly one of the most visually compelling books DC has ever published.
Joker / Harley: Criminal Common Sense is a very unique and intriguing take on the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. Garcia excels at characterizing the two central characters and finds new depths for readers to explore. The tone of a horror / psychological crime thriller fits perfectly into the world of Gotham City and gives Harley an exciting twist to her usual appearance. Suayan, Badower, Mayhew, and Kwok’s artwork is detailed, rich, and gruesome with the expressions and body language of their characters, urban backgrounds, and gruesome crime scenes. Fans of characters or the psychological crime genre will certainly appreciate this well-written and visualized book.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more on movies and nerd chats.