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It seems like everything is sprouting up Joker these days, with director Todd Phillips' Joker feature film enjoying its controversial opening week run, and the Master of Horror himself, John Carpenter, co-writing a The Joker: Year of the Villain one-shot with Borderlands 2's Anthony Burch.
Now New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures, Teen Titans: Raven) is leaping into the insanity with Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity, a 9-issue series from DC Comics’ Black Label imprint that escapes into comic shops on Oct. 9. — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at the premiere issue alongside a chat with Garcia on this detailed examination of the unstable power couple.
Joined by artists Mike Mayhew (The Star Wars) and Mico Suayan (Bloodshot: Reborn), this riveting psychological thriller follows Harley Quinn, a young and ambitious forensic psychiatrist consulting for the Gotham City Police Department, as she hunts down a savage killer running rampant in the city. Haunted by the specter of death following the brutal slaying of her roommate, the intense investigation will bring her face-to-face with the most infamous serial killer in Gotham’s history — the Joker.
When an epidemic of gruesome murders appear throughout Gotham, past and present clash as Harley’s obsession with locating the vicious psychopath responsible for the crimes leads her down a perilous path. The narrative explores the limits of the rational mind as she decides to cross the lines of normalcy to solve these complex cases.
To provide further authenticity in this procedural crime tale, Garcia enlisted the help of forensic psychiatrist and criminal profiler Dr. Edward Kurz M.D. Kurz also trained under Dr. Fred Berlin, Jeffrey Dahmer’s defense psychiatrist, and acted as the lead forensic consultant on Garcia's X-Files Origins novel, Agent of Chaos, which chronicles Agent Mulder’s early days before joining the FBI.
One of the things Garica always finds people are baffled by is how do cute, adorable, seemingly normal girls or boys turn into a psychopathic killer rather than a CEO or surgeon.
"I was interested in doing a YA Joker origin story that left a lot of the Joker mysteries intact, but really tackles the psychopath piece of it," she tells SYFY WIRE. "But in order for it to be authentic and forensically accurate it was not going to be appropriate for YA. My editor encouraged me to play around with it and bring in more adult Joker aspects.
"So I thought it would be a great opportunity for Harley to use the skill set she's trained in, in a realistic way. She would be more kickass and not fall in love with the Joker in a clinical setting, and it took off from there and I pitched it directly to Jim Lee and Dan DiDio for Black Label. It was daunting. I wanted to tell this really big story in a format I don't feel is easy. But it also felt like something exciting and something I would want to read."
Mico Suayan and Mike Mayhew's art lend an immediacy to the story, and this was a deliberate effect Garcia hoped would meld together.
"Once we had Mico, who I love and was on the list, I knew I wanted the other person to complement Mico but also be very different and distinct," Garcia explains. "Because I'm telling a Joker origin story, I try to preserve a lot of the mystery but I knew I'd be showing this character in a lot of different ages. And as a budding psychopath he's still going to be a handsome teenager but you're going to need to see glimpses of darkness, which are very subtle, and usually a nuance of expression, and DC gave me Mike's [Mayhew] name."
"The first thing I found on Pinterest was his Mary Jane stuff and his young Jean Grey. The teenagers in Mary Jane are so unbelievable. A lot of people can't draw teenagers, even their body language, like the way they walk and slouch, and that was really important to me. Then I saw his Jean Grey work and saw not just the way he does children, but his use of color, and untraditional layouts. It doesn't matter how good the story is, if the art is not compelling and complementary, it doesn't work. The art is so key."
Now head into our expanded preview of DC Black Label's Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #1 in the gallery below, then tell us if you're prepared to descend into the madness when the first issue strikes Oct. 9.