Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1
Writers: Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko
Artist: Laura Braga
Colors: Tony Aviña and Arif Prianto
Letters: Deron Bennett
Cover: Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts
Variant Cover: Adam Hughes
DC & Archie Comics
This week presents us with a pair of Harley & Ivy comics, so what the hell, let’s review both of them in turn and see if they do anything for us. We just had
Batman Harley Quinn Day 2017, so maybe I’m still in a Harley mood.
First up is Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica, and it’s tricky to say where this will rank in the history of bizarre intercompany crossovers with Archie Comics. I suppose that after Archie has met the Punisher, KISS, the Predator, Sharknado, Barack Obama, George Takei, and I don’t know who else, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy is exceedingly normal with a plot slightly less madcap than the Punisher crossover from 1994. Maybe this isn’t exactly one for the history books–and that’s hard to accomplish since most Archie crossovers just don’t live up to Archie Meets the Punisher in being the comics equivalent of joining chocolate to peanut butter and discovering it works.
In other words, H&IMB&V works from a very plausible plot: Hiram Lodge plans to drain a nearby swamp to start a university, and Ivy is horrified since it’s a unique ecosystem with rare flora and fauna. Meanwhile, Betty and Veronia–mostly Betty–are roped into planning a costumed gala ball for the university, so they’re constantly at each other in their frenemies relationship and not realizing that they’re heading for a colission with the ladies from Gotham.
This should all be well and good and funny, especially since it’s coming from Paul Dini himself, along with some serviceable art from Laura Braga. This is chuckleworthy, to be sure, and the last page indicates that the four girls are headed for a hilarious first encounter which probably shouldn’t be spoiled here. The problem is that there’s a general dullness in getting to that point. This is ok, but not monumental.
I’m going to say that part of what’s hurting this is the art, which is done in the modern rebooted Archie style and also mostly uses a 2010s Harley and Ivy. Nostalgia porn has its limits and it’s DC and Archie’s perogative to make the current versions the “house” versions. Still, I can’t help but feel that this kind of crossover calls for a Timmverse Harley and Ivy meeting a Dan Parent-styled Archie. Dini recently did a “Joker Loves Harley” backup in the main Harley Quinn book which at least resembled the Timmverse style, and while the story was weak, at least it looked right. Likewise, this year’s Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures used a Timmverse style to great effect. I mean, do what you want, DC and Archie, but tapping the nostalgia porn market wouldn’t have hurt.
H&IMB&V isn’t a failure of a book, and hey, Archie and DC fans will enjoy it–the former having the opportunity to marvel at a very weird sight gag with Archie at the gala concerning a certain comic. And maybe this will pick up in future chapters, but the opener is not as special as one would expect.
Rating: Two and a half out of five mallets.
Harley Quinn #29
Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Michael Kaluta, Tom Denerick
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover: Frank Cho & Sabine Rich
In contrast, Harley Quinn #29 continues Harley’s mayoral campaign, having it get very badly sabotaged, and Ivy comes running to her rescue in a way that will please Harley and Ivy as lovers fans to no end. I’m not enough of an expert in Harley and Ivy’s relationship to tell you if this is their first canonical, non-Elseworldy kiss, but if it is, well: there it is, even if it’s on a technicality of Ivy intervening on the matter of Scarecrow toxin exposure. (Although, come to think of it, the Harley Quinn comic is in an extremely loose continuity status with the rest of the DCU and barely matches anything in Suicide Squad. We shouldn’t really care, but that is the fact of things.)
Harley Quinn #29 does continue to kick around the current Harley-Ivy relationship while still leaving it in its ongoing state of bizarre ambiguity. The current “Rebirth” run has been playing with the pair being in a sweet friends-with-probable-benefits status, but not really solidifying the relationship: their vacation issue from about a year ago mostly foreclosed a commitment on the grounds that Ivy was an eco-warrior first and girlfriend second. She’s remained a staple in the book, but the friend/lover status has remained in unconsummated flux, even up into this issue, where Ivy is pleasantly surprised to catch Harley sleeping with a man.
Anyway, things don’t really go much past that, because the kiss comes at the issue’s cliffhanger, and there’s a host of other plots to be resolved, including Harley’s mayoral campaign and a Scarecrow on the loose. However, the kiss happens in such a way that it’s very clearly going to tie into the mayoral story, and we’ll see where that goes in future issues. Color us curious for now.
Rating: Three mallets out of five.