I’m not entirely sure where you might come down on all of the crossover books that DC has been doing lately, but I am a huge fan! The very idea of the recent DC/Looney Tunes crossovers bring a smile to my face. The idea is very Silver Age and something that DC was doing spectacularly during that time period. What’s even better about those crossover comics in particular is that they were really amazing. (Seriously, check out the Batman/Elmer Fudd one-shot if you haven’t yet)!
When HARLEY AND IVY MEET BETTY AND VERONICA was announced, I was 100% immediately on board—huge Archie fan! —and let me get it out of the way right at the top: This issue does not disappoint. Writers Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini let you know from the first page that this issue is going to focus on fun and the core relationship between both pairs of women as the series drives toward its climactic moment.
The relationship between Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn is a very affectionate and supportive one in this issue, and, honestly, compared to the rivalry between Betty and Veronica, it’s probably the healthier of the two. When Ivy notices that the Sweetwater Swamp (Riverdale reference!), is being threatened with development on behalf of Hiram Lodge and his proposed Lodge University, she’s bound and determined to step into the role of activist and preserve these wetlands…at any cost.
Actually, one of my very favorite jokes comes on the fifth page of the issue when Ivy is explaining everything to Harley Quinn and Harley starts listing off all the people who have a grudge against them. It’s a pretty impressive list featuring both heroes and villains. I guess the girls just have that kind of effect on people!
What I really love about this initial scene between Harley and Ivy is that Harley is completely supportive of Ivy’s need to go out and make a stand. At no point does she try to change Poison Ivy’s mind or divert her from her quest to save all of the beautiful green things in the world.
The Betty and Veronica story stands as a clear and simple literary foil to the bond shared by the red and green girls. The Riverdale girls’ classic rivalry is in play throughout the issue. Rather than coming together in order to solve a problem that is presented to the girls, Veronica fixates on using her family’s power and influence—and her standing in the Riverdale High community—in order to get as much free labor behind her father’s Lodge’s Sweetwater Center plan.
Ironically, the sweeter, less villainous, universe’s character is incapable of asking for help and must, instead, use evil means to get the job done. While Betty Cooper is no Batman—although I think she could definitely be up for that job!—she becomes the most unwilling player in the game of party-planning.
In many ways, it’s a return to the more archetypical rivalry between Betty and Veronica in spite of the fact that Archie Andrews isn’t in the center of their conflict…yet!
Harley and Ivy get a little throwback moment too where Ivy uses the power of her plants (and everything else that implies when you are dealing with Pamela Isley), to get Smithers working on her side. I found the scene very reminiscent of the “Holiday Knights” Christmas episode of Batman: The Animated Series, which stands up as one of the most iconic Harley and Ivy team-up moments.
Having a comic book that’s set in Riverdale culminate in a costume dance feels nothing short of correct. It is yet another nod from Andreyko and Dini back to what readers have loved about the Archie universe for so long. Plus, they include the amazing visual gag of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy showing up in the costumes they were both wearing when they first met and teamed up during their Batman: The Animated Series days.
While for many creators and readers that would have been enough, the references keep on coming with Betty and Veronica’s quest for costumes. There’s an adorable sequence drawn with great aplomb by Laura Braga where the girls are trying to figure out what to wear and how, with a shared costume concept, they can outdo each other. Mad props for the inclusion of Spy vs. Spy and, by extension, MAD Magazine! In the end, the combo Betty and Veronica settle on is nothing short of pure genius: DC Rebirth-era Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy!
When all four women enter the room at the same time for the final splash page, the possibilities for the rest of the series feel endless. The strong visual styles that we expected from all four of the eponymous characters are clearly on display and the examination of the different interpersonal relationships proves that having Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica is nothing short of awesome.