Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Art: Simone Buonfantino, Georges Duarte, Romulo Fajardo Jr., David Baldeon, and Antonio Fabela
Letters: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 30th, 2022
The “Task Force XX” storyline concludes in the Harley Quinn 2022 Annual #1 as Harley, Killer Frost, Bronze Tiger, Luke Fox (formerly known as Batwing), and Verdict have a final showdown with the rampaging alien creature and its army of possessed humans. And Luke’s upgraded the team’s weapons for the battle. Watch out Thor, Harley’s got the devastating power of Jeff the Mallet!
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After a couple of issues that dragged this story along, Harley Quinn 2022 Annual #1 provides an action-packed conclusion where each character FINALLY gets to shine.
Sure, I know this is Harley Quinn’s book, but watching Bronze Tiger and the other characters get reduced to NPCs bumbling around in the background, it’s great to see each one of them have a moment in the spotlight.
The issue starts with a seemingly never-ending battle, as the alien creature (which can possess nearby humans in a Starro-like way) throws an army at the team. From there, the action REALLY heats up when the creature escapes to Blackgate Penitentiary, where Harley and Verdict have to confront one of Batman and Nightwing’s more obscure (but massive) villains.
I loved the team dynamic throughout. Like most groups who are thrown together, they had their growing pains, but in this issue, the five work as a cohesive unit. Even the normally chaotic Harley happily abides by Bronze Tiger and Luke’s strategy. This storyline has given me a new appreciation for Killer Frost. She’s been level-headed and analytical throughout. She’s kind of like Spock to Bronze Tiger’s Captain Kirk. Add to that that she has interesting ways she can use her powers (they’re not just limited to ice slides and ice blasts) and it makes her very formidable.
My only complaint with the issue is Harley’s jokes throughout it, which are so painfully unfunny and annoying, that they make Mr. Freeze’s puns in that horrendous film “Batman & Robin” look like comedy gold. There’s not a knee-slapper in the bunch. Too bad Spider-Man’s not a DC character, maybe he could swing by and teach Harley how to tell GOOD jokes and quips during a fight? All in all, a great conclusion to a story that started off wobbly but ultimately stuck the landing.
There’s also a backup story that sets up a new storyline for the regular Harley comic. The story’s set in Vegas, with Harley facing a mysterious “Men in Black”-style officer who comes looking for a package she has and he wants. It’s a breezy little story with some good action and a couple of fun comic moments, though it doesn’t get me super excited to see what happens next.
Simone Buonfantino and Georges Duarte’s art in Harley Quinn 2022 Annual #1 perfectly captures the disgusting and terrifying features of the alien monster, even as Harley and the other members of the team are all drawn with features that show off their individual personalities.
The action scenes burst with energy, especially when Harley uses Jeff the Mallet to send enemies flying. Her upgraded mallet is drawn with pulsating red rings on both sides of the head, conveying the electric power primed within it. David Baldeon’s art on the backup story is more detailed and less cartoony, but still does a good job depicting Harley’s insane expressions and amplifying the crazy situation she’s fallen into.
Harley Quinn 2022 Annual #1 is a solid conclusion to the “Task Force XX” storyline, delivering some great fight scenes and the interplay between the characters, as well as a terrifying “big bad”.