Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #2 – Kami Garcia, Writer; Mike Mayhew, Mico Suayan, Artists
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Like many of the Black Label titles, Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity, at nine-part crime thriller by Kami Garcia and a pair of comics’ most famous artists, is a fantastically crafted book and a deeply difficult one to read.
It’s violent, yes, but in a stark, brutal, and often grotesque way that can be genuinely unsettling. From the opening pages, where Harley discovers a horrific tableau of body parts twisted in ways no body part should ever be and a candle display with awful parallels to one of humanity’s greatest atrocities, it tests your gag reflex and your endurance at times.Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #2 is a comic I would have noped out of long ago – except for the fact that it’s written really well. Garcia’s Harley jumps through time, as we see her at the beginning of her career and now as a disturbed, broken woman. She’s the kind of unbalanced, sometimes unlikable antihero that are usually cast as guys in popular fiction. She’s difficult, but a genius, and that’s the only reason the authorities put up with her.
This series is half Harley’s story, half Joker’s – or is it? The issue keeps us off-balance about whether the character we’re following is actually Joker, and pulls the rug under us a few times. You follow a young boy as he’s brutally beaten by his father before eventually fighting back. Anyone who has been abused themselves should be warned about this issue – much like Harleen and the intense depictions of sexual abuse, the depictions of child abuse here are horrifying. Whether this boy evolved into a monster or not, something horrible is lurking in the city and it looks a lot like Jared Leto’s Joker. That’s an odd creative choice and I’m not sure I like it, but the art across the board is stunning.
I think the black-and-white segments are actually stronger, giving this issue the feel of a noir story. I’m not sure I enjoy reading this book, but for what it’s going for, it’s doing it very effectively.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.