It looks like Betty and Veronica will have a new pair of rivals, with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy heading to Riverdale while ‘on the run’ from Gotham City. They may not be the kind of crossover or team-up that DC Comics fans had dreamed of on the big screen (or small one of The CW’s Riverdale, for that matter), but from the sound of it Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica is going to deliver on the promise of seeing the two pairs of unstoppable women come head to head.
Fortunately, fans need not fear that Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy will actually make themselves the villains of this story, least of all for the affection of Archie Andrews (if that was ever a risk). With the co-creator of Harley, Paul Dini co-writing the crossover series, the diehard fans knew from the first announcement that ‘the Joker’s girlfriend’ would be done justice. Thanks to new teases from Dini himself, it sounds as much like a love letter to Riverdale’s beloved characters as a story to spotlight two of Gotham City’s femme fatales.
During a press event held by DC Comics during San Diego Comic-Con, Dini was on hand to offer a bit of a tease of Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica, and what brand of hijinks should be expected. Few have ever considered a fictional universe in which Gotham City and Riverdale actually coexist, but aside from praising his co-writer, Marc Andreyko, Dini explained what makes this inter-company crossover his “dream assignment”:
I was very happy to be approached by DC with the prospect of writing a dream assignment for me, which is Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica… a crossover with the Archie world. So it takes Harley and Ivy kind of on the run out of Gotham City on a mission to Riverdale, where they encounter the entire Archie Gang. They encounter Betty and Veronica who are kind of their opposites… they have rivalries, they have fights, they have vendettas and ultimately they become friends.
I’m writing it with Marc Andreyko who is a tremendous writer who I got to work with briefly on the fabulous LOVE IS LOVE comic, the tribute book. He and I just have this weird sensibility when it comes to these characters, from the minute we sat down working it out in a coffee shop, it was just like, ‘Okay this is great, we’re on the same page, this is going to be a lot of fun.’ And I think in the first issue we put, with the exception of Josie and the Pussycats, every prominent character who has ever been in Archie on the first page. And then we get right into Harley and Ivy. It’s fun to create this blended world where there’s Gotham City over here and Riverdale somewhere over here, and it kinda works.”
The promise that the four titular women will wind up “friends” when all is said and done will come as a relief to skeptics, particularly those who took the first artwork by Amanda Conner literally. To hear that Harley and Ivy will be crossing paths with Riverdale’s leading ladies is one thing… to see that made manifest by Harley and Ivy replacing Betty and Veronica as competing for Archie’s attention is something else. Thankfully, the tease of conflict in a number of ways beyond ‘romantic’ suggests a more standalone standoff (we hope).
At a time when ‘shared universes’ are seen as the most bankable and promising form of franchise development by major studios and publishers, the past few years of DC Comics have seen the Justice League universe combined with some… unexpected candidates. Not because they’ve been disappointing choices or creatively underwhelming – the exact opposite, in fact. Crossing over DC’s biggest heroes with the Power Rangers, or pitting Batman against Elmer Fudd are ideas too outlandish to predict – the AAA publishing equivalent of fan fiction.
With Gotham City’s famous femme fatales now making the trip over to meet Archie and the gang, DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio explains what makes a promising enough pitch for a DC mash-up:
We’ve been looking at different companies to work with, and [Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica] just seemed to be a natural mix. We like the Archie guys over there, we’ve been trying to find a way to do an inter-company crossover. And we try to do ones that make sense: we’ve done ones with Power Rangers, and we’ve done ones with Ninja Turtles– Ninja Turtles was very successful for us, crossing over with Batman. We also do it internally, we’re joking about it, but we did DC and Looney Tunes, DC and Hanna Barbara… we’re trying to find things that are eclectic enough that people get excited about it.
It’s not just superheroes meeting superheroes but something that really challenges the story and will bring really talented people in to execute it, it gets to be something completely different than you would normally see in the books. That’s when you do those crossovers, that’s when they make the most sense.
Those following the current comic book industry may read added meaning into DiDio’s words when placed opposite DC’s biggest competitor, even if his words are best taken as philosophical. Marvel has encountered some critical controversy with events like Civil War II and Secret Empire, pitting superhero against superhero and asking readers to choose a side. DC has been just as guilty of that trope in the past, but the upcoming Dark Days: METAL event has been pitched as an attempt to bring the “fun” back to superhero comics: escalating the spectacle and scale, but not the angst, trauma, or betrayals so common in superhero events and crossovers.
It’s hard to say that throwing Batman in with the Ninja Turtles, or having Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy find friends among the Archie Gang is fueled by anything but fun, when you get right down to it. Fun and, as DiDio pointed out, a combination of styles and universes that can push creators to new heights, or limits. And who knows, maybe this Gotham/Riverdale mash-up is only the start of things to come…?
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