Harley Quinn Annual #1 (Comics Review)

It has indeed been too long since I’ve read a Harley Quinn comic. There was September’s Future’s End tie-in one-shot of course, which was utterly awesome by the way, but apart from that, nothing really concrete. Reading that one-shot, and the Harley Quinn Invades Comic Con one-shot from July reminded me of what I’ve been missing. Harley is DC’s big breakout success from last year and she has certainly cemented her place in the comics, as she is set to do in movies as well since the character is confirmed for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie in about a couple years.

A couple weeks back we got the first Harley Quinn Annual, and a fantastic romp it was too. Following on almost a year after the incredibly successful debut of Harley Quinn #0, the recent issue is a one-shot that tells the story of Harley finding out that her best friend Poison Ivy is being held at Arkham Asylym and going there to break her out. Of course, as it always happens with Harley, nothing goes according to plan and we meet a new dangerous villain. Jimmy and Amanda turn out another awesome issue with the aid of a rotating cast of artists, all of whom do some incredible work here.

The cover mentions that this is the “Special Rub ‘N Smell Spectacular” and the story certainly bears all of that out. At various times in the story, Harley’s fourth wall-breaking abilities come to the fore and she invites the reader to smell something on that page. It is a really fun mechanic and it is also totally Harley as she was in last year’s Harley Quinn #0. Perhaps even better. Not sure yet!

Either way, the long and short of this story is that while chilling out with her friends Tony and Queenie, Harley receives a call from a friend of a friend that Poison Ivy has been thrown in Arkham Asylum for doing some of her ecoterrorism stuff or some such thing. Naturally, given that Harley and Ivy are the bestest of buddies, the former decides to stage a breakout for the latter in a way that only she can. And it is a beast of a ride through the 38 (story) pages of this comic. Of all the Harley stories I’ve read from the pen of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, this is undoubtedly the zaniest. And also the most fun.

And I think that it is also a great place to jump on to this series for new readers as well. Sure, it costs a pretty penny, but trust me that it is worth the price of admission. Harley’s antics in this issue are pure gold and there’s never a page where she disappoints. The narrative chemistry between her and Ivy is super-strong, and I loved seeing so much of their relationship, which often turned romantic. That’s pretty awesome. As is the kiss that the two of them share. Amazing really.

At about the half-way mark of this issue, there’s a big twist that really trips things up and then the story goes into full-on crazy mode as we explore the delusions and hallucinations of Harley, Ivy and the latter’s two captors at Arkham Asylum. It is all pretty WTF, but I loved every single bit of it. The weirdness is what really sells this issue, as it has sold the series right from last year’s zero issue. With this issue, I think the writers prove that they’ve still got a ton of juice in the tank and that they aren’t yet out of ideas. Which works just fine for me, really!

The art in this issue is primarily by John Timms, Paul Mounts and John J. Hill. John draws an amazing Harley and Ivy, and I couldn’t get enough of his artwork. Especially with Harley wearing her Bombshell cover variant outfit in the story. That was super-fun. And Paul Mounts was pretty perfect with the colours, and really sold me on John’s pencils. About halfway through the issue however, the pencillers change, and then it is a rotating cast starting with the ever-amazing Stjepan Sejic, and moving on to other greats like Joe Quinones, Ben Caldwell, Kelley Jones, Rico Renzi (colours only) and Michelle Madsen (colours only). Of these, the best work is definitely Stjepan. His Harley and Ivy, with his trademark colour palettes are simply out of this world. The other artists also get lots of good kicks in, and none of them are disappointing in any way.

This was a seriously good issue and I highly recommend it for the sheer fun value of it.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Harley Quinn: #0, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, Future’s End, Harley Invades Comic Con.

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Posted on November 10, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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