Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica
A rollicking blast of a crossover comic, wherein Harley and Ivy go undercover in Riverdale to prevent Hiram Lodge from wiping out Sweetwater Swamp, but instead end up accidently swapping bodies with Betty and Veronica. A little problem like suddenly being underage won’t derail their plans, however. Betty and Veronica, though? Not thrilled to be stuck in the bodies of two famous Sirens and stuck in Gotham City with all the pissed off criminals who want to do in Harley and Ivy.
The characterization of Betty and Veronica is just odd in the beginning of the book. At first, they seem to straight up hate each other. Betty (sweet, girl next door?) seems to have something nasty to say about everything Veronica says and does. Later they’re described as frenemies, but in the beginning, Veronica is described as Betty’s nemesis.
Did they have a fight? Am I missing something? Yes, Betty and Veronica are rivals for Archie’s attention in most versions, but they are also FRIENDS. It’s not this vicious mean girl snottiness.
Anyway, by the time the gala hits, everything is forgotten, I guess, because they’re friends now, enough to hang out together at the party and not throw a fit every time the other speaks.
As the book continues, I can’t really tell who these characters are beyond “good girl” Betty and Veronica, who is predominantly characterized by being rich. So. There’s that. I got the feeling the writers of this comic are more on the DC side than the Archie side. It’s like they got to borrow Riverdale characters for fanfiction.
Harley and Ivy are perfectly nailed. Their plan makes sense for something Ivy would do, and how she’s go about it. Though she could simply destroy their equipment first, she aims for kidnapping and pressing Hiram Lodge into doing the right thing before any other attempts.
There were a lot of fun moments: Selina Kyle being a fan of Josie and the Pussycats. Sabrina Spellman meeting Zatanna and fangirling out. Harley and Ivy freaking everyone out with their behavior and closeness when they’ve taken Betty and Veronica’s bodies. Betty embracing her inner wild girl and throwing that mallet around before stealing a damn taco truck to get out of Gotham.
It could’ve been better, story and character-wise. It’s not like anyone really developed or learned anything. But as it was, just a fun romp.
Adding that, while I think there are nods to Ivy and Harley’s real relationship, the former calling her “babe,” the latter calling her “my gal”—the book is deliberately written to make it unclear what their relationship is. They clearly live together, sleep in the same bed, do crimes together, call each other pet names, and are affectionate… but only to a point. I’m not asking for a big girl-on-girl sex scene, but if they can make a joke about how the bad guys enjoy watching the girls fight together, they could more clearly recognize what is an established relationship in DC canon. My only reasoning for why they WOULDN’T is if Archie comics didn’t want them to include it. Or because Paul Dini chickened out. There is clear love for the characters there, however, so your guess is as good as mine.
The cover art is just awful, but thankfully, this is not the art we’re asked to view through the book itself, which seems to be done by Laura Braga, who has experience drawing Harley and Ivy in other titles. That art is what I would consider to be your standard DC comics fight art, no more, no less. There are some really well done panels, and parts that I enjoyed. The style is flexible enough to keep up with the fast pace and the action.
In fact, I really do like some of the drawings of Betty when she looks more like a teenager, which would be appropriate in contrasting her with Harley. Unfortunately, DC must have a cup size requirement, because when she’s dressing as Harley, she goes up two sizes.
Removing points for back-breaking posing (seriously, girls don’t always have to have their asses sticking out) and literally copy/pasting drawings into other frames (and not just in the scene where two leads are dressing up in different outfits). Since this comic novel is from the official DC and Archie people, I expect less laziness in the art (or maybe they just gave her a super short deadline). Also, to the colorists: Why is Harley’s skin BLUE?? She wears face makeup, yes, in her costume. Otherwise, she’s human. Wtf.
Oddly, Harley looks most herself when she’s in Betty’s body, thanks to the blue skin in her normal form and the failure of the artist to really capture her beyond “vixen.” There could’ve been more effort put into making, at the very least, the title characters distinct. It was important for the characters in-universe to mistake them for each other, but at no point does it benefit for us not to really know who is who.
This isn’t that deep. Ivy is trying to save a swamp; Harley goes with her. Shenanigans. I think the overall theme here just had to be MASH-UP!!! Although I do think that Betty and Harley got a little bit out of their experience being each other, this thought isn’t fleshed out by the end. The characters end more or less where they began.
My expectations were lowered from the beginning, so while I wasn’t as satisfied with the characterization of the Riverdale characters, it was entertaining to watch a common fanfic trope play out with my two favorite Sapphic Sirens from Gotham. It’s definitely an enjoyable read, even with my criticism switch flipped. It’s not Shakespeare (or the Sandman), but it’s not meant to be. I would recommend giving it a shot.
Review will be crossposted at Midnight Voss’s blog, Netgalley, and Goodreads. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.