Review – Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4: New Horrors

Comic Books DC This Week
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4 – Kami Garcia, Writer; Jason Badower, Mico Suayan, Artists; Annette Kwok, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 7.5/10

Ray: Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4 is the first Black Label book to return from the hiatus, and it’s also been a while since the last issue due to the schedule. We seem to have shed original artist Mike Mayhew, who has been replaced for the second issue in a row by Jason Badower, but the art quality remains strong.

Kami Garcia’s script, focusing on a Harleen Quinzel who is a hard-edged profiler searching for the serial killer who killed her wife, is compellingly done but lacks something in terms of a connection to the source material. This Harleen is so dispassionate and professional that it’s hard to see any real connection between her and every other version. The DNA here is definitely much more from serial killer thrillers like the work of Thomas Harris, putting us equally in the mind of our heroine and the monster she’s chasing. And that means we get far more intimate with Joker’s psyche than we usually do.

Stalked. Via DC Comics.

But is that a good thing?

It doesn’t work for me. Assuming the story, which jumps back and forth between two timelines, isn’t misleading us, this Joker is given a pretty typical “sad boy” backstory. Bullied at school, abused by his cruel single father, discovers a dark family secret that sends him off the deep end. He’s just not a very interesting antagonist. Far more interesting is watching Harley work, and you can tell Garcia has roots in horror and suspense when she depicts Joker’s crimes.

The ultra-realist art and Garcia’s twisted mind make the reveal of each individual crime scene something genuinely horrific, and Joker/Harley Criminal Sanity #4 takes something that should be innocent and happy and makes it something horrible. This series is pitch black, without an iota of light or hope. Is that something you want to read? That mileage will vary heavily, but those who delve into this bleak world will be rewarded with a pretty effective story.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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