Monday, January 24, 2022

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity by Kami Garcia

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity by Kami Garcia, Mico Suayan (Illustrator), Jason Badower (Illustrator), Mike Mayhew (Illustrator)
Release Date - September 7, 2021 
Publisher Website - DC Comics
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**borrowed from library**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Murder is his art. Catching killers is hers.

In Gotham City, heinous acts of violence are a daily occurrence. Harley Quinn, forensic psychiatrist and profiler, consults with the GCPD on
their worst cases. But she is fixated on an unsolved murder that haunts her—the night she discovered her roommate’s body marked with the
signature of a notorious serial killer known as The Joker.

Five years later, the case remains unsolved, and a new series of horrific killings has begun. As the murders escalate and the meticulously
constructed crime scenes become more elaborate, Harley’s obsession with finding the depraved psychopath responsible leads her down a
dangerous path. When the past and the present finally collide, Harley has to decide how far she is willing to go—and how many lines she is
willing to cross—to solve these cases once and for all.

Written by #1 New York Times and international bestselling author Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures, Unbreakable, The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos) and drawn by Mico Suayan (Bloodshot Reborn), Jason Badower (Wonder Woman ’77), and Mike Mayhew (The Star Wars), Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity introduces readers to a Joker and Harley Quinn unlike any they’ve seen before, utilizing forensic psychiatry, behavior analysis (profiling), and psychological profiles to create a true-to-life take on these iconic characters that is more terrifying than any psychotic fantasy. This volume collects issues #1-8, as well as Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity—Secret Files.

I was immediately interested in Joker/Harley: Criminal Insanity as both a fan of the superhero genre and someone with an interest in true crime. This imagines Harley as a profiler who is hunting a serial killer known as The Joker. It promised a dark, gritty story and on that aspect it delivered. I, however, ended up not being entirely sold on this particular incarnation of the Harley and Joker story.

The story being told is as dark as you would expect it to be. Harley is laser focused on hunting down the person who horrifically killed someone close to her, and this version of the Joker is perhaps even more terrifying than usual. Its tone is something that it gets exactly right and ends up being one of the stand out elements here.

The art is comprised of a few different styles as there are multiple illustrators. This is used effectively to break up the various parts of the story with different styles being used for different purposes. A lot of the art is eye catching and arresting and infused with the darkness of the story itself. I am new to graphic novels, but I admire their ability to make you transfixed by an image. 

Harley as a criminal profiler operating on the outskirts fits her character incredibly well. The darkness in her works with the darkness of the story. You could see how this Harley could eventually be written to become the Harley from the comics, but she could just as easily be taken in a different direction. I liked her quite a bit in this and mostly like the direction her character was taken in.

The Joker's story has more backstory than the ones I am more familiar with. I think this version is chilling as he is brutal, methodical, and determined. The most compelling aspect may be that he has reasons for his actions. Those reasons do not necessarily need to make sense to the reader. It makes sense to him and that is enough. His reasons may in fact feel cliché and expected. I simply feel it works on a basic level as his motivation.

Those hoping to see a cameo from Batman himself will be disappointed. I, however, found it refreshing that this focused on other characters. Batman's presence wouldn't have been effective here so I am grateful he was kept only to a brief mention. 

I had to search out if this was the end of this particular run of comics and it turns out that this is the full story. It was this fact that made my rating drop a bit as I felt the ending was unsatisfying and abrupt. It didn't, for me, mesh with the rest of the story. It felt like there was so much story left to tell. It didn't live up to the potential I had seen in the earlier portion of these comics. 

The combination of the classic Batman characters mixed with criminal profiling was certainly an interesting draw. It, mostly, worked for me up until the disappointing (and abrupt feeling) ending. I have mixed feelings overall when it comes to this one, as a lot of the earlier stuff was truly fascinating and it offers a unique take on the Harley and Joker characters.

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