Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Art: Georges Duarte, Simone Buonfantino and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 16th, 2022
Lashina is taken over by an alien Venom-like creature, Verdict goes nuts and Harley exceeds her quota of bad jokes in Harley Quinn #20, as Harley and her team are trapped inside the old Justice League base on the moon, facing a creature that wants to absorb them one by one.
Harley Quinn #20 has pretty much the same plot as any “team stranded on a moon/planet/ship with a creature stalking them” story you’ve read before. We get the team fumbling around in the dark, a standoff as one of the team wants to get out of there and the rest try to calm them down, and the creature attacking again.
You know you’re in trouble when Harley’s the most stable one on the team. Sure, she goes overboard on the wisecracks, but amidst Bronze Tiger’s incompetence (at one point saying that dread phrase from any horror film: “Why don’t we split up?”), Verdict’s raging temper, and Killer Frost’s endless lecturing, Harley’s practically as mentally with it as Dr. Phil.
And don’t even get me started on Solomon Grundy. I’ve rarely seen him as useless as he is here, and so clueless he makes the “Hulk Smash!” version of the Hulk look like Albert Einstein. I like the Lenny/George dynamic that was set up last issue between Harley and Grundy, with her buddying with him and being protective of him even as he protects her also. But this issue, it doesn’t really pay off, and Grundy’s strength is ultimately ineffectual against the alien monstrosity.
As the team tries to figure out what to do about the creature, Lucius Fox is having his own internal struggle back on Earth, wrestling with guilt over being accidentally responsible for creating the creature in the first place, after failed experiments with Element-X.
Everyone except Lucius and Harley seem written out of character. Bronze Tiger, who has been a great strategic thinker in the past, just bumbles around here, and Killer Frost seems more like a leader than he does. It’s a shame, because I’d love to see Bronze Tiger at the height of his abilities interacting with Harley and doing more than just shutting her up.
On the plus side, we get some good gunplay by Verdict, the creature seems very formidable and Killer Frost gives a reminder that her powers involve far more than just creating ice blasts and shields. The issue ends on a good cliffhanger that will hopefully bring Lucius Fox more to the forefront next issue.
Georges Duarte and Simone Buonfantino’s art on Harley Quinn #20 is expressive, especially with Harley’s scenes. The action scenes are choreographed in an acrobatic way, as Harley flips, cartwheels and dives throughout them. The creature is drawn in a similar fashion to Marvel’s Venom but just different enough to give it its own hideous feel, with Lashina’s disfigured face and its whirling tentacles. The colors pop throughout and give the book a lighter feel in contrast to the darker plot.
Harley Quinn #20 is a weak continuation of the “Task Force XX” story, with most of the characters not feeling right, a potentially great combo of Harley and Grundy being wasted and a plot that’s been used way too many times in the past.
Hopefully, given the cliffhanger, things will improve next issue.