The one thing I kept trying to figure out going into this story, was how Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko were going to naturally marry these characters and worlds. Let’s face it, the Batman universe and the Archie universe shouldn’t be kindred spirits. Even the crazy, fun, absurdity that we’ve come to expect with Harley feels like a stretch… And yet, these men manage to blend these two worlds quite easily and organically! Color me surprised.
I have a confession… I’ve never religiously read Archie. I’ve read strips in newspapers or issues here and there – and I’ve always enjoyed them – but I’ve never added the series to my rotation (although, I hear Mark Waid’s current run is absolutely fantastic, so perhaps I should change that!). Despite my lack of expertise, I’ve always found Archie to be pleasant and charming, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for here… And thankfully, that’s exactly what we get.
We start the issue focusing on the kids of Riverdale. Each of the key players are introduced, and we’re quickly wrapped up in the set-up of the plot: Hiram Lodge wants to turn Sweetwater Swamp into a school and community center. His idea is that the future of Riverdale deserves more than just a swamp as part of its namesake. In fact, he believes in this so devoutly that he’s already purchased the land, and is in the process of developing the school… You know who doesn’t like the idea of this? Poison Ivy!
Yep… It’s that simple. All Dini and Andreyko need to do is reference a swamp with rare plants is in danger of being destroyed, and I fully believe that Pam would want to involve herself. So together, Harley and Ivy decide they need to take a little road trip to Riverdale in an attempt to save the swamp. The concept is simple, and even basic to a degree of being average in quality, but Harley & Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica is anything but average. It’s a ton of fun!
The plot may not win any major points here, but the characters sure as hell do! I should warn you if you’re dipping your toes in this crossover just for Harley and Ivy, there’s not too much of them here… At all. I’d say roughly 90% of the book features the familiar faces of Riverdale that we’ve all grown to love.
I mentioned that I’ve always found Archie pleasant and charming – in fact, familiar might be a better word – but I never paid enough attention to it to understand why. After reading this issue, it clicked – Archie is charming, pleasant, and familiar because it’s the perfect representation of all of us! If we can’t see ourselves in the characters, then we can definitely find identity in their conversations, interests, or situations.
At times, the feud between Betty and Veronica was a bit much, but when they stop trying to be enemies, and became more like frenemies, the book sees a jolt in energy. The commentary on these two women from supporting characters is also a lot of fun, especially while the characters shop for (and eventually reveal) costumes for an event. Eventually, Ivy, Harley, and the others cross paths to help round out this debut. It’s also made clear that Hiram Lodge might just have some ulterior motives for building this school… And I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone!
The Art: Laura Braga covers art for the issue, and does a solid job. There are some inconsistencies at times, but overall I don’t have much to complain about. I like most of the pages featuring the kids from Riverdale, but it does appear as though she cut and paste some panels from time to time as it featured the same characters with hardly any change to their expression. Other than that, my main complaint would be Harley and Ivy. The look odd. And I know it’s minor, but I find it annoying that she draws Harley with pink tips on both pigtails, rather than the pink and blue.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Nostalgia. There are references to classic comics throughout the issue, and right away I feel as though Andreyko’s hand is all over this! The guy has a passion for the history of mediums, and it appears as though he has a blast playing with these ideas here. One of my favorite moments was easily Archie, dressed as Pureheart, while reading the classic Giant Secret Origins featuring Pureheart’s origins! Be still my heart! I have the feels!
The dialogue. Yes, the dialogue is campy and cheesy, but it’s fun! When you have interactions like the one pictured below, how can you not enjoy yourself?
Costumes. I should have seen this coming the moment a costume party was mentioned, but the fact that Betty and Veronica dressed as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy… at a costume party that Harley and Ivy are both attending… I got a good laugh, and immediately thought of ComicCon.
Harley & Ivy’s inclusion. I’d all but convinced myself the inclusion of Harley and Ivy into Riverdale would feel so forced, that I was surprised at how natural it actually was! Kudos to Dini and Andreyko on this one because it could have easily gone downhill!
The Bad: The plot. There’s not much in the way of plot here, so there’s a chance you might find the issue boring. I personally feel as though the characters and potential make up for the plot’s shortcomings, but I would understand why others may not agree with me.
- You’re a fan of Archie.
- You’re a fan of Harley an Ivy.
- You watch Riverdale and superhero tv shows.
Overall: While the issue itself may not be overly exciting, what is exciting is the potential of greatness that is teased in this debut! The exposition is out of the way, the characters are in place, and we’ve been treated to a hilarious scenario with well-written characters! This should make any Archie fan have, and hook the Harley/ Ivy fans enough to bring them back next month!