Here’s a DC annual that’s had some buzz around it: Harley Quinn Annual #1 and what makes it so special is the fact that it is, believe it or not, a rub ‘n smell issue. That is, you rub part of the book and it smells (a concept I haven’t seen around in a while).
Such a novelty required me to seek out a physical copy for this to see how it exactly works. Is it good?
Harley Quinn Annual #1 (DC Comics)
Harley Quinn heads to Arkham Asylum to rescue Poison Ivy, since Ivy has recently been arrested and tossed in there to await trial for one of recent attacks against polluters. Harley runs into some trouble, of course, and finds herself locked up in the process.
Hmmm…. I dunno. The last time a woman wearing banana butter told me that she slapped me regardless.
Now this was simply a goofy and silly as hell story. It was just basically Harley Quinn trying to save Poison Ivy and getting caught up in a drug hallucination. As with the rest of the series, Harley Quinn Annual #1 wasn’t too deep or complex, with no big twists or surprises. However, why should there be in the case of a comic like this? It was all about having fun and delivering on a very funny experience, which it did very well. It’s not the funniest issue of the series, but it’s about as creative and silly as the zero issue was in my view.
As always, the writing by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti was good. The pacing and storytelling were perfectly fine, except for one scene that felt like it didn’t add too much (except for adding an extra smell). The characterization was good and was pretty much accurate to how everyone has been in the comic thus far; though I’m starting suspect Harley and Ivy and more than just “friends” from reading this comic (if so, it does line up with something Paul Dini once said about the two). The dialogue is enjoyable and really adds to the personality of the characters and the humor. Speaking of which, the humor was pretty solid per usual and had a lot of good gags and jokes it, even some nice meta ones for you clever folk. Some, admittedly, do not hit as well as they should or fall flat — but Conner and Palmiotti still bring the funny. Either way, it’s a fun time like you would expect, so you should definitely come away from it with a positive experience.
I did smell it and man, does that smell knock me right out of my shoes.
So, let’s talk about that rub ‘n smell gimmick: Was it effective? Did it smell at all? Did it work for the comic? Well first of all, yes, you can definitely smell something when you rub in the spots it tells you to (except for one area that it indicates you should be able smell strangely). There are four smells in the book: Leather, suntan lotion/body oil (something like that), pizza, and a mind altering substance that may or may not be illegal. While I’m a bit disappointed that there weren’t more smells, they are mostly used effectively in the right areas and do add to the punchline of the scene. I will say, as fair warning though, that this special feature will set you back an extra dollar (so the annual now costs $6 instead of $5) and the pizza and herbal smells do pack one hell of a punch to them, so keep that in mind.
The artwork is divided up amongst a few different artists: John Timms, a guest artist you see sometimes for the book, draws most of the annual and he does a fairly good job like always. His layouts are good and he knows how to throw in some good background gags, the characters look fairly and are well depicted (though Tony looks slightly taller in some panels than he should), and his style really brings out the humor of the book. The other artists drew the hallucination scenes and they are Stjepan Sejic, Joe Quinones, Ben Caldwell, and Kelley Jones. Each of them does a solid job and their work looks rather nice, though Ben’s work is probably the weakest of the artist’s here.
Giant bees, my god.
Is It Good?
Harley Quinn Annual #1 was a pretty fun experience and ride from start to finish; the humor, the craziness, the creativity, the writing, the artwork and the rub ‘n smell gimmick of it really made for one hell of an enjoyable comic. It’s a bit more costly than your usual book admittedly, but if you’ve got the change on you and you are a fan of the characters, it’s definitely worth your eyeballs’ and nostrils’ attention.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!