Review: ‘Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica #1’
Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica #1
Writers: Paul Dini and Marc Andreyoko
Artist: Laura Braga
DC Comics; $3.99
Rated T for Teen
There are a couple of categories of inter-company comic book crossovers. There are those that sound ideal from the get-go and seem like perfectly natural pairings, like Batman/The Shadow or Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy. There are those that sound so ridiculous that their very incompatibility is the selling point, like Archie Vs. Predator or Archie Meets The Punisher. And then there are the third kind, those that sound ridiculous at first, but actually prove surprisingly compatible. The new DC Comics/Archie Comics collaboration Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica is this last type of crossover.
This pair of pairs has nothing in common save for the fact that they are two sets of fairly well-known comic book gal pals, with Betty and Veronica’s enduring rivalry/friendship stretching back almost to the beginning of comic book history (far predating the invention of the term “frenemy,” of which they are perfect examples). Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are far newer on the scene, and these Batman villains aren’t as inextricably linked to one another as the girls from Riverdale are, nor is their relationship so concrete (This is only the first of a six-issue series, so it will remain to be seen how close the Gotham girls are in this particular outing).
So what, exactly, brings them altogether in a single comic book? One of Archie Comics’ closest answers to a villain, Veronica’s father Hiram Lodge. In an opening montage that introduces us to much of Betty and Veronica’s clique, Lodge announces his plan to turn the nearby Sweetwater Swamp into Lodge University, a free college for Riverdale residents—with plenty of profit-generating, up-scale shopping opportunities nearby.
This enrages plant-loving, human-hating Poison Ivy, who leaves her shared hideout with Harley to visit nearby Riverdale to put a stop to Lodge’s plans, either by appealing to his sense of environmental justice, or through mind-control and violence, whatever proves most effective. (That Gotham and Riverdale are so close to one another is itself a pretty good gag, given that both are notoriously vague about their exact geography; “The same state that Riverdale is in” proves to be a cute but coy answer to the question of where exactly Gotham City is.)
Meanwhile, co-writers Paul Dini (the co-creator of Harley Quinn, and one of the originators of her friendship with Ivy) and Marc Andreyko lay the groundwork of Betty and Veronica’s realtionship and their general milieu. Here the girls aren’t fighting over Archie Andrews’ affection, exactly—although Harley and Ivy taking their traditional places on either side of a milkshake with the all-American ginger on Amanda Conner’s cover makes for a great image–but their clash is premised more on their divergent personalities. Girl next door vs. it girl diva, compassionate do-gooder vs. vapid money-grubber, etc.
Veronica all but press-gangs Betty into helping decorate for her dad’s party celebrating the development project, and because it is a costume party with the theme of heroes and villains, they end up dressing up as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, priming the pump for misunderstandings next issue, as Harley and Ivy themselves crash the party, dressed, as they usually are, as Harley and Ivy.
Dini and Andreyko do a very solid job on the many Archie characters who appear—while Betty and Veronica get the most panel time, the whole gang is represented—and this reads more like an Archie comic guest-starring Harley and Ivy than it does anything else, at least at this early point of the story.
Laura Braga provides the art, and she’s had plenty of practice drawing Harley and Ivy in DC Comics Bombshells. Stylistically, I would say this looks more like a DC Comic than an Archie one, but given how much Archie Comics has changed in the last few years, that isn’t exactly true any more. Unlike, say, Archie Vs. Predator, this is drawn in the style of the newer, rebooted Archie line, and if the fashions are more up to date, the level of detail more realistic and the girls more, well, sexy, then it probably has much more to do with the current look of Archie’s line and their appeal to a post-Riverdale audience than it has to do with the fact that there are a couple of Batman villains in it. (After all, Harley and Ivy certainly fit a more abstracted, cartoonier aesthetic. As an aside, the late Dan DeCarlo, a legendary Archie artist who was one of the best to ever drawn Betty and Veronica, once drew a short Harley Quinn story for DC.)
That the publishers chose to go with these particular characters meeting instead of franchise front men Batman and Archie Andrews makes the entire project more interesting, and it seems like a particularly good move for Archie Comics, as the new iteration of Betty and Veronica didn’t last long and ended up being demoted from an ongoing to a miniseries, to better reflect artist Adam Hughes’ pace on a comic book series. While they’ve both played major roles in the other Archie books, this helps keep their names in the title of one, at least for the six months this crossover will be on the stands.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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