Review: Harley Quinn Annual #1
Written by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by JOHN TIMMS
Guest art by JOE QUINONES, BEN CALDWELL and KELLEY JONES
Cover by AMANDA CONNER
DC Collectibles Bombshells variant by ANT LUCIA
On sale OCTOBER 29 • 48 pg, FC, $5.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will arrive in stores with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
We have to warn you, readers: This issue stinks! Seriously! Like, unpleasant odors are literally in the story! In this first-ever HQ ANNUAL, take a trip to Harley’s home of Coney Island in a groundbreaking “scent-ticular” issue, featuring actual, honest-to-gosh smells. This issue comes polybagged to contain the stench.
Let’s first address the controversy around this comic. The smells in this “rub ‘n smell” comic are meant to simulate the smell of leather, suntan lotion, pizza and, in the US, cannabis. Outside of the US, the smell is cut grass. As of the time I write this, there aren’t any outraged parents swarming the Internet about this, but I’m expecting it any minute. The warning is on the cover, and while it doesn’t specifically say that there’s a pot smell in it, there is that marijuana leaf there, so if some parent is upset that their kid’s comic smells of pot, they should first think about why their kids don’t know what a pot leaf is, or be more concerned that they do. Either way, it’s not DC’s fault.
Now, the only other copy of Harley Quinn that I’ve read is this month’s #11, and I enjoyed it well enough, but this had me intrigued at the beginning, and then went downhill. The resolution to over 30 pages of conflict was very matter-of-fact, but totally in line with a story whose protagonist is a villain. The zaniness gets old, but thankfully the hallucinatory nature of the guest art spots allows for that zaniness to have a point. The rub ‘n smell effect is very well used, and I’ll be okay with it as long is doesn’t start showing up everywhere.
The art is very good. The main artist for the issue does a very good job of telling the story and creating compelling pages. Anywhere else, I’d find the lack of traditionally square panel layouts disconcerting, but with a character that’s essentially insane, it works just fine. The colors are kept bright which for a character like Harley, that works perfectly. The guest art is used very well, and are some of the best artists around, and are used for the hallucination that best suits their style.
So do I recommend this issue? I do if you’re a fan of Harley Quinn, Batman or Deadpool. If you’re a Deadpool fan, then this is right up your alley. The regular series may not be. For me, I’m particularly not a fan of those characters, but I am a fan of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, so I’ll give the regular series another issue or two to win me over.
UPDATE: The digital version is very interactive and contains some extra little bits for those who take their comics digitally. I actually recommend it more than the regular version, and if you’re getting the regular version, then definitely get the digital as well, if you can.