They’re the hottest couple at Arkham Asylum and the newest DC stars (for some value of newest, anyway.) Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Batman: Harley and Ivy #1 awaits!
Writer: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
Penciler: Bruce Timm
Inker: Shane Glines
Colorist: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Joan Hilty
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2.50
Previously in Harley and Ivy: After the success of the Tim Burton ‘Batman’ film, Fox Kids began airing perhaps the best adaptation of The Dark Knight’s adventures of all time. Featuring cool art deco designs, an amazing voice cast and the designs of Bruce Timm, it was the wellspring of an entire DC cartoon universe. It also introduced us to the Joker’s moll Harley Quinn, who took a one-note joke from a decades-old soap opera and made her one of the most vital parts of the Batman mythos. It also gave us her relationship with established Bat-villain Poison Ivy, which can be read in a number of ways, as we’ll see shortly.
Even though the BTAS ended in 1995, this issue picks up exactly where it left off, in the Gotham City of Earth-DCAU, as Harley targets a rare plant whose extracts will allow her to control the minds of men. Their approach is flawless (and flawlessly drawn) and they quickly identify the vine, just in time for the lights to come on. But it’s not the GCPD, but instead a group of Gotham’s hoi polloi from the Botanical Society, whose benefit was SUPPOSED to be the next night… unless Harley screwed up the dates?
Spoiler: Harley screwed up the dates.
Harley and Ivy successfully get away, but everyone can tell you why that gentleman in the middle is running away to pull off his tuxedo jacket: It rhymes with “Sluice Vane.” It’s also interesting to see the almost-curse from Harley, as this IS a book from 2004, the absolute peak of edginess from modern DC. (See also: Identity Crisis and the gaddam Batman.) The Dark Knight makes short work of our Dynamic Duo, thanks in part to Harley’s fecklessness, and ending with a smash cut.
While I’m not always the biggest fan of Bruce Timm’s anatomical designs, this issue’s expressions and layouts more than make up for any issues I might have, showing an incredible range, especially from the angry Pamela Isley. (There’s also a wider ranger of body types than we usually got in the cartoon, with Harley and Ivy having different heights and builds, as seen when they… take a shower together?
This issue is also pretty overt in it’s embracing of the idea that these two characters are more than friends, with Harley literally washing Ivy’s hair and worrying about her emotional state before the have a naked cat fight and Ivy angrily tells a tearful Harley that she never wants to see her again. It’s heart-breaking, but not as heart-breaking as the stupidity of the Arkham guard who enters Harley’s cell WHILE THERE’S A PLANT IN IT after hearing that she might have cut herself. Ms. Isley uses the vine to break free, making her way out via the Andy Dufresne method, with the added bonus of being able to animate and control the various moss and fungus in the sewer system. Ivy breaks free, escaping even Batman, and sets off on cruise ship to escape to another country.
There’s just one problem…
It’s a cute ending, especially how easily the seeming ice princess melts when Harley’s feelings are hurt, cementing their weird-but-perfect relationship into something truly special. Batman: Harley and Ivy #1 is a quick, but incredibly entertaining read, with some truly inspired visuals, making for breezy yet strangely deep 5 out of 5 stars overall. I firmly believe that Batman: The Animated Series is a large part of the ubiquity of modern Batman, and frankly, if there was more of THIS Gotham in the live-action DCEU, I’d be seeing more of their movies.
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BATMAN: HARLEY AND IVY #1
This issue is a cute done-in-one affair that makes a fun story out of the mismatched team of Doctors Quinzel and Isley, with wonderful Bruce Timm art.