Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #3 Review

Profiling Insanity

Writer: Kami Garcia Artist: Mico Suayan, Jason Badower Cover Price: $5.99 Release Date: February 5, 2020 Review by: Carlos S.

Criminal Sanity is back to continue the story of Harleen vs the Joker in a way not seen before in DC Comics.  She is not going to stop at all until she finds this guy. With what he has been doing, that is for the best. What do you get when you cross Harleen’s determined brilliance with the sociopathic intellect of the Joker?  

We open with Harleen trying to piece the case together.  She is firm in her belief that John Kelly is the Joker and the serial killer responsible for these murders.  More evidence is needed and most importantly, a way to find him. When his father was found murdered and John went missing he was naturally marked as a suspect.  However, due to his age and intellect, it was kind of sort of dismissed at the GCPD. I say that lightly because Harleen has not given up on that theory and goes into his past to connect the dots.  

This leads Harleen to his high school.  While speaking with the school she confirms her suspect is highly intelligent which lines up with her initial thoughts.  We find out that Kelly has received a scholarship from Wayne Enterprises. He does not seem very interested, to say the least.  Also, have we gotten any mention of what is going on with Bruce Wayne in this universe? Is there a Batman? Were his parents killed?  Are Kelly, Harleen, and Bruce close in age? I suppose in the grand aspect of this story, Bruce Wayne is not immediately relevant but I am curious.  Another thing, the Dean’s name is a nice double shout out to previous Batman writers. Kelly almost seems ashamed of his scholarship. Later on in class, he receives a high grade on a test.  It would be cool to see how proud the teacher is of Kelly’s grade if it wasn’t for the small thing that happens next. The teacher also displays the failing grade of his classmate for all to see.  This leads me to believe that the teacher is a dick.

I find it fascinating seeing the Joker’s perspective in this story.  His sociopathic isolationism is fully realized when his classmate approaches him.  He seems almost insulted that she would dare speak to him. He has to decide how to appropriately falsely empathize with her because he is incapable of emotions.  She is asking for tutoring and also seems to like him. I think that he would ordinarily dismiss her but he is practical. He intends to manipulate her somehow against her boyfriend.
Let’s talk about this quote “A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room, looking for a black cat which isn't there.”  Kelly says it to his classmate in response to her tutoring request. It is an old quote that can be applied to different philosophies and speakers.  It is a lot to unload right off the back but I have an opinion on it. In this context, Kelly is speaking of redundancies. Being an expert at math will not help you find a cat.  Being blind in a dark room, it doesn’t matter. Finally, the entire time you are looking for something (the cat) which was never even there. Kelly pretty much tells her that tutoring her doesn’t matter, she’ll never get it.  I can probably be way off though.
Harleen continues to follow leads that take her to the old medical examiner.  She pretty much wants to know what was on the missing second page of his report.  He is old and can’t remember. He doesn’t have it anymore because it burned in a house fire.  Seems specifically convenient for the Joker huh? Luckily for Harleen he has recorded tapes. Unluckily for Harleen, there are a lot and none are labeled.  This seems to be a catalyst for the Joker’s next move through. He has been stalking Harleen and is aware that she is on his trail. He mails pictures of his latest murder to the media.  He wants the GCPD to find it. The next scene shows off some fantastic art of the Joker. We see the superimposition of him over the display of a ballerina mannequin. Harlequin? It is so good that I had to specifically point it out here.  He also quotes the Nutcracker here and I wonder what the implication is here…

Harleen’s brother calls to remind her and the reader of their mother’s impending death.  This causes her to reminisce about her abuse. Throughout the course of a weekend, she was forced to stay at the dining room table until she finishes her food.  While definitely not to this extent, I think we have all been here. The weekend concludes with the juxtaposition of Harleen taking a beating from her mom while simultaneously “winning” by not giving in.
The media reports on the Joker’s latest crime and Harleen is pissed.  The GCPD uses some great (or lucky) detective skills and is able to determine the location based on the pictures sent.  Graphic art here but this is consistent with the series and I love it. The latest victim is posed and displayed consistent with the others.  Inside one of the drawers is a handcuff key. I can’t wait to see where that leads.

The medical examiner is conducting an examination on the victim and this helps to contribute to the next scene.  The larynx is completely missing and this requires a lot of skill to not significantly impact the surrounding structures.  Harleen is now seen at GCPD briefing them on her profile of the suspect. This is the best part of the issue. We really don’t see anything like this in DC and I have always wondered why we haven’t.  She psychologically breaks him down and addresses his methods. We even see the profile report. I would love to see a report like this on every DC villain. It could also serve as a guide for writers when developing stories for characters that actually make sense.  I am not saying this would ever happen but it would be cool.        

The art continues to be amazing.  Everything is outlined in disgusting detail but in the best ways.  My favorite scenes are colored in Joker ones. I love the character design of the Joker overall in this book.  The only thing that was off, in my opinion, was when Harleen pointed to a section of a picture that the Joker mailed in.  Everyone comments on how the column is in the corner of the picture but when I look at it, it is clearly in the center. Again, super small gripe.  
Bits and Pieces:

I still do not have any complaints in this book.  While I realize that this graphic crime content may not be what everyone is looking for in their DC book, it continues to be my favorite story right now.  The progression and the pace is consistent, the story is intriguing, characterizations and dialogue is spot on, the art is beautiful. What else do you want?  I only want to know what happens next. Check it out for yourself.   


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