HARLEY QUINN & POISON IVY #1
Writer: Jody Houser
Penciller: Adriana Melo
Inker: Mark Morales
Letterer: Gabriela Downie
Publisher: DC Comics
HARLEY QUINN & POISON IVY #1 is a mini-series that is supposed to explore the relationship between fan favorites Harley and Ivy! This book takes place after the emotionally-taxing events of Tom King's Heroes in Crisis. In that mini-series, we saw Harley framed for murder. As well, we saw Ivy dying and then being reborn with a direct connection to The Green. The great news is that Jody Houser delivers the first issue without having to read Heroes in Crisis at all! She made it accessible and easy to pick up and read.
From the first page, Harley narrates and sums up all you need to know. Then, it transitions into what they are up to now. I want to commend Houser on giving such loud voices to both Harleen and Pamela. Harley is bright, bubbly, crazed, and funny (as she should be). You can read the dialogue and hear her in your head. Sometimes it's challenging to write Harley as herself and not turn her into a big, messy joke but that's not the case here. Pamela is direct and systematic in how she speaks, making their dynamic balanced.
Their relationship dynamic is beautiful. Harley and Ivy are in a loving and caring relationship, and Houser, alongside artists, Adriana Melo/ Mark Morales brings us great LGBTQ+ representation. We see Harley drawing romantic pictures of the two together. Harley remains patient with Pamela as she rests to regain strength to be herself again. She is protective of her when she suspects that Lex Luthor could be trying to harm her. Even when the main threat of the narrative arrives (fans of Swamp Thing will love this), Harley is more worried about Ivy than herself. Their relationship is innocent, non-sexualized, and healthy. The story enhances through art. Both of these Gotham City Sirens exist without the "typical" male gaze. Harley is wearing a sweater tucked into her skirt with knee-high socks. Poison has her post- HiC muscled body until she is strong enough to create a robe of flowers for herself (which is adorable). I would love to see more of Ivy's feelings and thoughts presented. This issue shows that Ivy isn't back to her usual self yet. We will have to see what the next issue brings to the table.
All of this is made brighter by the great work of colorist Brian Miller. Harley's standard blue and red tips in her hair are a bit more pastel than usual and I quite like this change! Poison has a much more vibrant, luscious green to her that I feel symbolically displays her more direct connection to the Green! The brightness of the color scheme adds to the fun of this book!
I am delighted with this first issue. It gives a newer audience all the right context to make this story accessible. It establishes Harley and Ivy with relatable and exciting character goals for their future together. It is fun and warm while still having a well thought out cliffhanger. Pro-LGBTQ+ and colorful, be sure to check this book out!