Sound Mind: The Age-Old Story with a Twist

Sometimes, the villains are more entertaining than the heroes.
April 12, 2023
6 mins read


The Harley Quinn and Joker story has been rewritten over and over again. These two beloved anti-heroes from the Batman comic series tend to stir up quite a bit of mainstream media content. More specifically, there have been numerous “spin-off” titles, including “Suicide Squad (2016),” “The Suicide Squad (2021)”, “Bird of Prey (2020),” and “Joker (2019)”. Who could have imagined that two villains in a superhero story could become so cherished? In fact, they are so adored that Spotify, DC Comics and Warner Bros. have collaborated to create original podcasts about this villainous duo.

By way of context, “Batman: Unburied” is a podcast that follows the mind-bending journey of Bruce Wayne, who has no recollection of his heroic alter ego. Instead, Bruce works as a forensic pathologist, performing autopsies on the victims of a serial killer known as “The Harvester.” After its release in May 2022, the following grew, and the reviews came flooding in. On IMDb , the podcast received an 8.6/10 for its performance. One anonymous reviewer wrote, “Voice acting was spot on, and the story has been really interesting so far, I just wish The Batman was this deep.” While the show was a big hit, no one prepared for what was coming next.

At the end of the “Batman: Unburied” series, a trailer advertising a new podcast gave hope to widely disappointed fans. The trailer begins with “Hello, Patient J? My name is Dr. Quinzel.” With this release, the voice of Harley Quinn blew fans away. The trailer continues with layer upon layer of audio clips from the podcast and ends with the words “Villany Loves Company” before ending with a release date.

The talented voices of Christina Ricci and Billy Magnussen bring the sequel to the “Batman: Unburied” podcast to life with “Harley Quinn and the Joker: Sound Mind,” an immersive storytelling podcast. Few podcasts qualify as extensions to the DC Comics movies, but these consistently build the fanbase and intrigue new people.

With the “Sound Mind” podcast come many details about Quinn’s story that differ from those carved into childhood memories. For instance, her sickly older father, who retired from a job at the chemical plant, is dying from an incurable disease. According to Fandom.com, Nicky Quinzel is a greedy gambler and con artist who ruled Gotham before the Joker came into play. This detail changes the story. Had it remained the same, fans would have a completely different narrative to listen to.

Another notable detail is that the audience gets a more in-depth look at Harlene’s life as a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum before her villain arc. She leads a human life that the audience hasn’t seen before, and it looks like a normal one: go to the drugstore, take your parents to doctor’s appointments, etc. This gives listeners yet another new angle of a familiar story.

Furthermore, the Joker doesn’t make an appearance at the podcast’s beginning. In fact, the Joker is only briefly mentioned in the first episode by other psychiatrists in the Arkham facility as “Patient J.” The audience doesn’t fully meet him until the third or fourth episode when Dr. Quinzel herself gets assigned to him. Given that his name was in the title, many listeners may have believed that he would have been featured in the first episode. This is another way that creators keep the fans guessing with “Sound Mind.”

Fans even get a special guest star in the series: Mr. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. Contrary to the previous podcast series, Wayne is very much aware that he is Batman, even defending his alter ego in some of his dialogue with Harlene.

After its release in January 2023, the already growing following soared. On IMDb, the podcast received an 8.6/10 for its performance, making it identical to its predecessor. Ximena Smith from Stuff Magazine concludes, “…the writing is sharp, the sound design is well-crafted and Ricci’s voice-acting is absolutely flawless. I happily binged through this one in a day.”

Among the reviews, there have even been different interpretations of the show’s writing. Jackson Luken, a reviewer from Batman-news.com writes, “The way in which Harley Quinn and The Joker: Sound Mind sets itself apart is by flipping that dynamic on its head. Harley, or more appropriately for this story, Dr. Quinzel, is given far more agency than almost any other incarnation of the character.” He later concludes, “In many ways this series is a very feminist work.”

So far, the podcast has received stellar reviews. With the trajectory of these installments, there may be another in the works, although something has yet to be officially released to the public via any of the three partners of the podcast.

From traditional comics to games to big screen productions, Harley Quinn and Joker fans simply can’t get enough of the many ways the characters are examined, reinvented and revitalized. Anyone who craves more content featuring these iconic DC characters will likely enjoy “Sound Mind.”

Katie Koenig, George Fox University

Writer Profile

Katie Koenig

George Fox University
English and Journalism

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