On Sunday, DC Comics issued a press release featuring a new upcoming series in DC’s mature, fairly new, imprint Black Label. This story will be a nine-issue psychological thriller titled Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity, which re-imagines the dynamic between Harley Quinn and the Joker.

Seemingly, there’s no Batman in this interpretation of Gotham City, making the story more grounded in reality. Here, Harley Quinn is still a brilliant psychiatrist like in her original debut but this time she’s working with the Gotham City Police Department as she investigates the terrors of the Clown Prince of Crime. It would appear that this series won’t be another tragic love story of the two Batman villains like the prior, phenomenal Black Label title, Batman: White Knight.

Black Label was set up to be an uncensored mature imprint where comic book creators could write stories using iconic characters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman that don’t normally get to be seen written in such a dark, adult light. Creators were told that they would have no limits to their stories and would be unrestricted by authorities such as the Comics Code Authority but this sense of freedom in the art wouldn’t last once the first story would be released under the imprint.

Batman: Damned was the first official series to be released under the imprint written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo as a three-issue miniseries which saw the Dark Knight seek the help of John Constantine in solving the supernatural murder of the Joker. (As you may already have been able to deduce many of Black Label’s stories are Batman focused). Sadly, this series would get off to a rocky start, especially for that of an imprint that was meant to be mature in tone with no limits, when readers would cause an uproar about one panel in the first issue where Bruce Wayne’s penis was slightly visible while he was taking his Bat costume off. This would spark a huge wave of controversy for the new imprint with readers and parents alike not wanting to see imagery like this from their favorite comic characters despite this imprint being specifically made for mature stories. This would also become the but of many jokes with even the likes of Jimmy Fallon making fun of the comic for revealing Batman’s dick while not even mentioning the actual story and premise of the comic itself.

DC Comics was fairly embarrassed by this first issue and redesigned the entire imprint as a result. They made all reprints of Batman: Damned have the revealing but minor image removed and had most upcoming titles in the imprint be halted in their development such as the highly anticipated Superman: Year One by Frank Miller and Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Black Label has more or less become a home for all of DC’s outstanding stories with multiple reprints of critically acclaimed stories being made under the imprint this year such as Watchmen, Kingdom Come, DC: New Frontier and more! Other titles were also brought into the imprint such as the previously noted Batman: White Knight. While other titles in the imprint have come out such as the recent Batman: Last Knight on Earth by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, many of the imprint’s original tales have been delayed perhaps indefinitely after this sort of identity crisis following the controversy. Nevertheless, this recent announcement of a new original series by Kami Garcia, Mike Mayhew, and Mico Suayan brings new hope for the imprint to bring fantastical and dark tales to the DC universe that fans have never seen before.

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity issue #1 will release on October 2nd and will continue to release monthly thereafter.


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