Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #6 – Kami Garcia, Writer; Jason Badower, Mico Suayan, Artists; Annette Kwok, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: As we head into the final arc of this much-delayed series, Kami Garcia’s slow-burn thriller finally pits the two title characters against each other. It’s a little jarring to see the way the art style works, even this far in—having the current-day segments be in black and white while the flashbacks are in gorgeous color is a bit distracting, but both Mico Suayan and Jason Badower deliver amazing work. This issue features a few more flashbacks, both for Joker as he begins his killing spree and for Harley. Harley’s family is always a little dysfunctional in even the best portrayal, but here it seems downright toxic—her mother is verbally abusive, and Harley never reunites with her and shows up at her funeral to throw a cigarette in her grave. It’s a rather harsh note to add to the character.
If you’re a fan of slick serial killer thrillers, though, this is going to be an excellent read for you. This issue has some of the most creative kills of the series, particularly a twisted “Audience interaction” one that takes place at a theme park. It’s all building to when Harley and Joker finally come face to face in an interrogation room, as the twisted villain seemingly sets up exactly the showdown he wants. This series has done a good job of building up the confrontation well in advance, showing Joker’s impact including a painful segment of Harley interacting with her lost love’s parents. The problem that keeps this from being a great comic, for me, is that it still doesn’t feel much like a Harley story. It recasts her as a hard-boiled detective whose connection with Joker has no emotion behind it but hate. While distancing Harley from Joker has worked, this one doesn’t quite do that so much as sever her original connection completely.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.