Harley Quinn #20 review

We begin the chapter with some more development on Luke Fox. Basically, he’s reminiscing on the horrors he’s seen come to earth and how he was first motivated to really try to stop them (especially with the Justice League gone). But in his attempt to do good, he might have made something even worse. This is all presented in a very melodramatic way. To be honest, I haven’t read all that much material for Luke Fox before this, so I can’t really judge if this is truly out of character. Is Luke Fox this reckless and dramatic in other comics? From what I have read, I don’t think so. I think a story such as this, of him creating a monster, comparing him to Frankenstein, needs a lot more development. It’s a pretty big deal when a character who is usually one of the good guys defies the government, hires supervillains, and sends them to exterminate a dangerous creature of his own creation. 



But the melodrama of Luke Fox is given a really bad juxtaposition with Harley Quinn. Like last issue, she’s still being portrayed as nothing more than an annoying nuisance for a team that is taking the mission seriously. Harley gets into a big fight with Verdict that only continues to disrupt the mission. Later, Luke Fox’s giant alien attacks. In response, Harley gives it a long, long monologue about Aristotle, looking for someone who understands you, happiness, depression, etc. It’s a lot to read and its all for the joke that Harley’s silly monologue didn’t stop the monster. “It works in ALL the movies,” Harley pouts to herself on the floor as the other characters fight. It’s a bad joke, and it continues to show how pointless Harley is for the team, and makes Luke Fox look worse for hiring her.



But even though I’m highlighting these things about Harley, she truly isn’t the main character of the book. The main characters who drive the plot are still Luke Fox and the rest of his hired team. Harley sort of pops in and out to cause conflict in the team and tell annoying, unfunny jokes. Am I to really believe this weekly run was greenlit as a celebration of Harley for her anniversary? Because I’m certainly not feeling the love or understanding for her here. With how the run has been focusing on other characters such as Luke Fox or Batwoman, I’ve been getting the impression Stephanie Phillips is either out of ideas for Harley, or would rather be writing another character.

The story ends on a cliffhanger where Fox’s alien arrives on earth, devouring the men who were going to arrest him with guns. Once again, if Luke Fox is going to go down such a dark path, shouldn’t it have more development? Harley does some of her signature “trying to be philosophical” voice-over, comparing the situation to Frankenstein and his monster. With this, I was again struggling to figure out who this version of Harley is supposed to be. The vapid, uninvested Harley that’s still up in space is not the one I’d imagine giving insightful commentary.

As for the artwork, I still believe it’s better than Riley Rossmo. But I started to notice a lot more flaws with Georges Duarte’s art in this issue. Most of it can be highlighted in the page below. Is Verdict running, jumping, or just frozen in the air? Does Harley have a spine? I’d attribute these flaws to how quickly each one of these issues had to come out. If given more time, I’m sure the artist could have fixed these flaws. In fact, I’m pretty surprised there aren’t even more art gaffs considering how much work an artist would have to do for 5 or 6 weeks worth of comics. But with how lackluster this story is, especially for Harley, I really don’t think it was worth making the book go weekly. Not at all.


Recommended if…

  • You want to see Luke Fox go down a questionable path.
  • I honestly can’t think of another reason to recommend this book.

Overall


This entire Task Force XX plot line is a disappointing series to do for Harley’s 30th Anniversary. The Luke Fox plot feels forced, the tone is all over the place, the jokes are terrible, and Harley doesn’t even feel like the protagonist. I’m really looking forward to Harley’s 30th Anniversary special, hoping it provides some better stories to celebrate the character. Meanwhile, I think we’ve hit rock bottom in terms of her writing in this solo.

Score: 3.5/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.