- Written by: Kami Garcia
- Art by: Mico Suayan & Mike Mayhew
- Letterer: Richard Starkings of Comicraft
- Cover by: Francesco Mattina
- Consultant: Edward Kurz, MD
If you have read my previous reviews on any DC Black Label story then you already know I love this new label so much for it’s fresh and gripping takes on the characters we know and love from the DC Universe.
However, when I picked up Joker/Harley: Criminal Insanity #1, I had no idea the ride I was about to take when I opened the book and turned each page. What a ride it was!
If you plan on reading this story, forget what you think you know about Harley Quinn and Joker!
Harleen Quinzel, more commonly known as Harley Quinn, is a young forensic psychiatrist and profiler, working with the GCPD to solve multiple homicides, but deep down she has her reasons for being where she is today.
Five years ago, Harley Quinn came home from work to find her “roommate” murdered in their bathtub, with signature evidence leading all to believe that this was the work of Gotham’s most notorious serial killer known as the Joker.
Today, she helps the GCPD understand what’s really going on in Gotham, by examining the crime scenes of homicide victims and making sure that the more foolish officers within the GCPD don’t overlook the evidence and pass the cases off as simply “gang related” crimes.
Whilst there is no actual reveal of Joker in this first issue, the book tells one heck of a story and fleshes out the world perfectly, dragging the reader into it’s true crime aspect that almost gives you the creeps, with an interesting look into how we falsely classify all serial murderers as “Psychotics” when really, most of them are not, at least not within the true medical definition.
Usually in these reviews, I struggle to write about the art styles of comics, or any medium for that matter, because I don’t know the lingo or what’s what within the art world, but with this book I have a lot to say.
For starters, Mico Suayan does the art for the modern timeline of the story, with a black and white sketch style that ensures readers are focusing on the gritty crime drama of the plot, though that isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of fine details that bring the characters to life and make each individual character stand out from one another. The sketch design of the art and the heavy use of shading really adds to the tone of the story. It drags you into the darkness and brings out the true crime feeling of the situation the characters are in.
The designs for the characters are very much unlike any usual comic book style, and makes you believe that these characters are sketched from real life persons who exist within our world, as some of them do such as the many criminals Harley Quinn talks about, like Ed Gein and John Wayne Gacy. There’s nothing about this sketch technique that makes this book feel like a comic. The only thing that makes you remember it’s a comic, are the panels and speech bubbles.
Mike Mayhew handled the flashback sequences, and when I turned that page to the first flashback I was instantly shocked and mesmerised in the best possible way. Mayhew’s art is phenomenal, as it felt like I had someone been turned into a fly on the wall of the scene, watching the situation unfold before my very eyes. The panels and pages were filled with what looked like photographs, and I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it. I was instantly drawn into this plot with these panels and I don’t often stay on a page long enough to truly admire an artists work. I know that sounds wrong for a comic book reader but as I’ve said before, I’m less of an art guy and more of a story guy, but I couldn’t help but stare in amazement at these panels as I struggled to almost differentiate the art from reality. If anyone can bring characters to real life, it’s Mike Mayhew.
Honestly I don’t know what else to say about this other than I would highly, and I mean HIGHLY recommend any DC or other comic book fan to read it, even if you’re not into comics but enjoy true crime drama, this book has it all. The story is gripping, the world is fleshed out, and the characters are about to go on one heck of a journey, as if they haven’t already.