REVIEW: ‘Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Kami Garcia and Edward Kurz, MD, art by David Mack, Jason Badower, Mico Suayan, Mike Mayhew and Cat Staggs, colors by Annette Kwok and letters by Richard Starkings and Tyler Smith. Providing a form of supplementary work to the current Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity series, this book gives a “behind the scenes” look into Harley’s investigations. This issue is packed with loads of recreations of crime scene photos, dossiers, and other information on both the killers and the lady searching for them.

One of the surest ways to make a consumer remember your media is to create a sense of immersion. If successful, immersion envelopes the consumer in the sense that they are actually there. It grabs them and pulls them in. Making every story beat and emotional moment hit all the harder. A deeper sense immersion is clearly what DC Comics is going for with their newest one-shot tie into their true-crime style Joker/Harley series.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files #1 opens with an in-depth look at Harley’s investigation board. The classic setup of a map of Gotham is displayed with pushpins marking murder sites, and string running from there to pinned-up pictures of victims. Newspaper clippings and crime scene photos are all on display in a haphazardly organized sort of way. The first several pages zoom in on various elements of the board. Allowing readers to fully digest the information that is present.

After we move on from the investigation board we are given our first look at several interesting art pages. These pages depict content I can only assume is intended to be the work of one of the killers. It has an unsettling quality to it, despite the obvious degree of skill it took to make it. Since the killer in Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity views his work as high art these images are further cemented in my mind as theirs. They recur throughout the book, separating each area of focus from the others. This creates a feeling of cohesion to the pages. Rather than just going from one thing to the next, the returning art interludes repeatedly pull the reader back to a common point. That this point is unsettling works for the nature of the content perfectly.

For the rest of Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files #1 we are shown a series of dossiers and other files enlightening us both to the investigation, as well as giving us peaks into Dr. Quinzel herself. These peaks flesh out Harley’s character and put some interesting wrinkles into who she was, and who she is. The visual presentation in this book really goes all out to try to create the look and feel the real world materials you are being shown. With some actual photos being used to bring the presentation home. The legibility of the writing in Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files #1 is quite good. The lettering always looks authentic, furthering enhancing the immersion that the book strives to create.

While Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files #1 doesn’t deliver a traditional comic book narrative, it isn’t trying to. Instead, it provides a deep dive behind the scenes of another story to let readers get even deeper into that narrative. Its presentation is top-notch for what it is, and I would definitely recommend it for people who love bonus materials and special features to go with their stories.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files #1 is available July 21st wherever comics are sold.