Comic Corner- Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4

Previously- Criminal Sanity #3|Coming soon- Criminal Sanity #5

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity was written by Kami Garcia, with art by Mico Suayan and Mike Mayhew, and letters by Richard Starkings of Comicraft.

What do you need to have read?
It’s a stand-alone series, as it’s part of DC Black Label, so feel free to jump into #1.

What do you need to know?
Harley Quinn, criminal profiler, is working with the Gotham City PD to hunt down a serial killer after her wife was murdered by a serial killer. While that trail has gone cold, she’s helping out with a particularly creative, but gruesome killer, who is modelling the corpses of his victims on famous works of art.

Cover shows Joker, shirtless but covers with blood spatter. In his right hand he hold a small serrated saw. He is lit by a spotlight with what appeared to be a black curtain behind him.
This is the Mike Mayhew variant cover. I wanted to show you thins one becasue I think it’s gorgeous.

At the moment I am finding Joker’s origin story to be the most interesting storyline. I love villain origin stories, and that exactly what we’re getting so it’s no surprise that I’m enjoying seeing the transformation.

This issue has plenty of Joker backstory. We get the emotional side of things as we see the nature of the relationship with his father. In previous issues, we learned that it was strained to say the least, but this delves into that. We learn that his father is a bit of an abusive alcoholic, who blames Joker for the death of his mother (as seen in issue X).

Not only that but we also learn that this man is not his biological father. I don’t know if we’ll ever find out who the biological father is, and I don’t think we have to, but it would be an interesting tangent. This could also bring us back to the exploration of nature vs nurture that has been hinted at during the previous issues.

We also get to see Joker’s future hinted at through the use of masks. After being chased by some school bullies he runs into the art room and manages to knock over a display of masks, and spills white paint over his face. The masks were also shown in a previous issue (see issue X), but now we see the very beginnings of Joker’s make-up mask. I don’t know how long the run of this series is going to be, but the writer seemed to enjoy teasing us immensely. I hope that we’re going to get to see him put on the make-up for the first time because that’s always a special Joker moment.

Joker as a teenager. He's fallen onto the floor of a classroom. He'd covered in art-project masks and white paint.

The parallels between Joker and Harleen in the present day continue as they both hunt for various things. It’s somewhat ironic, I suppose, that Harleen resorts to violence, given that she is supposed to be the more stable character. That said it could also be suggesting that she’s forced into this by the world around her. Joker inspires fear through his image and has no trouble achieving his means, whereas Harleen is misjudged because of her image.

We also get another gruesome corpse in this book. Maybe it’s because we’ve had a few already, but I didn’t find this one quite as impactful as the others and thought that the imagery was a lot weaker than in previous issues.

After the last issue smashed it out of the park this one felt a little lacklustre. It felt very much like a filler episode. That said, I do tend to hold off judgement until I can see the series as a whole.

Criminal Sanity #4 is available from Comixology, Forbidden Planet, or your local comic book shop.

Coming Soon… Criminal Sanity #5

In the meantime, why not check out… Criminal Sanity #1, Mad Love novelisation by Pat Cardigan, or Mad Love comic by Paul Dini and Bruce Tim.

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