Review – Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #1: Romances and Transformations

Comic Books DC This Week
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #1 – Jody Houser, Writer; Adriana Melo, Penciller; Mark Morales, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: Unsure Where This Is Going

Ray: The best thing to come out of the aftermath of Heroes in Crisis so far, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #1, a miniseries, follows up on the short-term death of Poison Ivy and her complex relationship with Harley Quinn – and it serves as a great companion piece to the ongoing excellent Harley series despite being a bit bogged down in tie-ins to multiple events.

When we pick up, Ivy is back and made entirely out of plant matter, but both her mind and her body are unstable. Harley tries to get her back to normal with a shopping montage – she’s not the best at caregiving – but Ivy’s body starts collapsing in one of the issue’s creepiest scenes. That leads Harley to make a dramatic choice – to use a mysterious soil that Luthor sent to Ivy as part of his Year of the Villain tour. This is portrayed as a major betrayal, since Harley hid the soil for weeks before using it. I’m sure that’ll blow up later in the series, but for now it restores Ivy to her classic green-skinned humanoid form and improves her memories.

However, eagle-eyed viewers may notice an ominous hint in Ivy’s restoration – she has a much more flower-themed motif than before, and that hints at the arrival of the series villain – the Floronic Man, fresh off his power-up in Justice League Dark. It seems like Woodrue is going to be one of the major villains of the Year of the Villain cycle, and his character design continues to be nicely creepy under Melo’s pencils. This story tries to pack a lot into one issue, but it works because Houser clearly has a great handle on the complex relationship between Harley and Ivy. Despite the complex and often non-monogamous nature of their relationship, they genuinely do care for each other and Harley’s determination to cure her girlfriend leads her to extreme measures – even if they’re not the best ideas. Sam Humphries has been doing a fantastic job with Harley over in his title, but Houser has a less surreal, character-driven touch that reminds me a lot of Paul Dini’s Sirens-era take. A great start for a relationship that’s overdue for a spotlight.

A drama-filled relationship. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: There is a great deal to unpack in this.

The good is that the relationship between Harley and Ivy is sweet and compassionate and it’s obvious how desperate Harley is to help her lover. That Harley makes the wrong choice in trying to “cure” Ivy is inevitable. This is Harley we’re dealing with here. This is an excellent book for showing how Harley’s dealing with the trauma of having lost Ivy and found her again.

It’s a less excellent story for Ivy. I’d hoped to have more of her perspective about all this. We barely saw any reaction about her transformation from her in Heroes in Crisis and now we’re offered little insight into her emotional state and whether she’s horrified at her inability to hold form as Pamela Isley. That the Floronic Man shows up seems to indicate this miniseries might be about Ivy becoming less and less human, as she adjusts to being connected to the green again.

A less human Ivy or a villain Ivy is not what I’d hoped for in this story.  But perhaps it will turn out differently than I fear.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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