REVIEW: ‘Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity,’ Issue #3

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Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 (of 9) is published by DC Comics under their DC Black Label, DC’s mature imprint. It is written by Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures, Unbreakable, X-Files: Agents of Chaos) with art from Mico Suayan (Bloodshot: Reborn) and Jason Badower, colors by Annette Kwok, and letters by Richard Starkings of Comicraft.

The issue picks up from the last as Harley Quinn continues her investigation in the gruesome serial killings. As Harley begins to connect the dots, she realizes she might know the identity of the Joker, the brutal murderer terrorizing Gotham. However, the deeper Harley digs into the Joker’s past, the more danger she finds herself in.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 explores a lot the Joker’s past. Flashbacks from his time at school, with friends, and family are interwoven between Harley’s investigation. These flashback scenes, like in previous issues, are in color. This is a stark contrast to the rest of the issue which is in black and white. That being said, unlike the previous issues these transitions are not jarring or confusing. In the last issue, the flashback scenes featured scenes exploring Harley’s background so when interwoven with Harley’s present, it was difficult to follow. Here, the scenes primarily feature Joker who outside of a few panels is not highlighted at any point in black and white and when he is, his classic Joker makeup is colored. This small coloring choice from Kwok makes all the difference.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3

In addition to offering a look into the Joker’s past, Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 showcases another gruesome murder. With the killer taking inspiration from a Salvador Dali painting, the case just got a lot more interesting. Throughout the series, Garcia’s best storytelling comes from when the book focuses on the case and murders themselves as opposed to the giving back story. The series clearly takes a lot of inspiration from other crime dramas including Criminal Minds. However, because of this, it never feels like a Harley Quinn story. You could change Harley and Joker’s names and the story wouldn’t change. While this is an Elseworlds story, it lacks components that connect it to the great Batman lore.

That being said, Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 isn’t bad and fans of detective mysteries and true crime will enjoy it. If you take away expectations about this being a Harley Quinn story, the series is an entertaining dive into the mind of mass murder and the woman trying to stop him. If you are looking for a Harley story that is more truthful to the character I recommend the Harleen miniseries.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 is available now in stores and online.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3
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TL;DR

That being said, Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 isn’t bad and fans of detective mysteries and true crime will enjoy it. If you take away expectations about this being a Harley Quinn story, the series is an entertaining dive into the mind of mass murder and the woman trying to stop him.