It all began with an episode of Batman: The Animated Series and writer Paul Dini having the wacky idea of pairing up the show’s two most prominent lady villains – Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. It was an odd coupling if ever there was one, though both heroines’ portrayals on the show were born of equal extremes of the oeuvre of animation legend Tex Avery. As designed by Bruce Timm, Ivy was modeled on Avery’s sexy siren Red, while Harley was modeled on actress Arleen Sorkin (who voiced Harley) and Avery’s screwball anti-heroes. The stoic Ivy and manic Harley proved to be as dynamic a duo as Batman and Robin, and the two were quickly teamed-up just as often as Harley worked with The Joker.
That original episode did drop a few hints that there might be more to Harleen and Pam’s relationship than their being merely friends, to the maximum degree to which fast-ones could be pulled on the censors at Fox Kids. While those hints didn’t make into the comics it until later, the modern Harley Quinn books have made it plainly clear that Harley and Ivy were lovers. And, in the reality of the Injustice games, spouses, for a time.
While things are kept decidedly friendly between the gal pals in Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy #1, the pre-release press on this mini-series has said that the romance between the two anti-heroines is going to be explored, along with their status in the DC Universe at large. In other words, this comic is all about where Harley and Ivy stand with each other and the rest of the world, which seems to be turned against them at this series opens.
Case In Point: This issue is set immediately after the events of Heroes In Crisis, where – SPOILER – Ivy was killed but regrew herself from a flower. Now possessing all of Dr. Pamela Isley’s memories and powers but being an entirely new being made of plant matter, “Ivy” is struggling to hold herself together. Literally.
Harley is trying to do her best to keep Red’s spirits up, but while Harley is no idiot, treating a sick plant woman isn’t something that got covered in medical school. Luckily, a solution is dropped on their doorstep. Unluckily, it comes from Lex Luthor, who Harley heard was putting together the ultimate team of villains and whose help usually comes with strings attached. And Harley… well, she’s not that sure she wants to be a villain anymore and was hoping to talk Ivy into become a hero with her… even before she got snubbed and wasn’t invited into whatever Luthor is planning.
Jody Houser’s script establishes this status quo with a modicum of exposition, explaining everything for those fans who haven’t read Heroes in Crisis, the monthly Harley Quinn comic or any of the Year of the Villain tie-ins, particularly Justice League and Justice League Dark. This last book is of particular importance to the cliff-hanger ending, so fans of that book should be advised that they should pick this up to see how a major event in JLD is tying into the story here.
The artwork is just as smoothly delivered yet as wonderfully detailed as the script. Admittedly, I’m biased as I’ve been a fan of Adriana Melo’s work since her runs on Birds of Prey and Doctor Who and her designs here will be familiar to anyone who picked up the recent Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica mini-series. The colors by Hi-Fi are suitably vivid and perfectly set off the inks by Mark Morales.
While this comic isn’t likely to win over those who aren’t already fans of Harley and Ivy, it will serve as a wonderful entry point to the current comics for those fans who fell behind on the Gotham City Sirens’ exploits over the past few years or those who only know of Ivy and Harley from the cartoons. It should also appeal to those readers looking for a continuation of the on-going stories in Justice League Dark, Heroes in Crisis and everyone collecting the Year of the Villain tie-ins.
Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy #1 releases on September 4th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.