Harley and Ivy: The Deluxe Edition is a treasure trove of comics featuring Gotham City’s most famous gal pals, as originally envisioned by Harley Quinn’s creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. All of the stories in this collection were plotted by Dini and, with one exception, he scripted all of them as well. And while Timm only provided the artwork for one of these comics, his unique, kinetic style—which informed the aesthetic of Batman: The Animated Series and set the house-style for the artists working on the tie-in comic books—is prevalent in every story but one.
The first story—a three-part mini-series simply called Harley and Ivy—is Dini and Timm at their best. The plot focuses on the two villainesses’ attempt to acquire a rare plant that Ivy can convert into a drug that will turn anyone into her willing slave—a necessary item given that Ivy’s mind-control powers only work on men. Hilarity ensues as the two make their way to South America to acquire the plant and then to Hollywood, to take over a film being made about their lives. Ivy just wants to use it as a means to finance her plans but Harley has silver-screen dreams of crafting the greatest blockbuster ever. And blowing up a lot of guys in Bat-suits!
24 Hours is a short, silent story, showing how quickly Harley falls back into her old habits after being released from Arkham Asylum. This one is included despite Ivy only appearing as a background character in the cells as Harley is set free. Still, it’s interesting to see Dini—known for his witty dialogue—write a story that is completely wordless until the final panel. And the artwork by long-time Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo—whom Timm cited as one of his major influences—is a hoot.
The Harley and The Ivy is a Christmas tale, in which our villainesses take advantage of a brainwashed Bruce Wayne to fund a holiday shopping spree. This story is notable for having later been adapted (along with several other similarly themed stories) into an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called Holiday Knights. Ronnie Del Carmen does a good job aping Timm’s style and the story is one of the best to feature the characters.
Harley And Ivy And… Robin? Is a fun tale, scripted by long-time Batman: The Animated Series comic writer/artist Ty Templeton. In it, the Boy Wonder is ensnared by Ivy’s mind-control and Batman finds himself sorely pressed to match both villainesses and his protégé who knows all his tricks. Rich Burchett utilizes the house style Timm pioneered, ably illustrating the tale.
Burchett also illustrates Oy To The World!—another Christmas story, taken from a Batgirl Adventures one-shot. This story sees Barbara Gordon reluctantly teaming with Harley Quinn on Christmas Eve to rescue Ivy from a gang of female terrorists looking to recruit her for their team. The usual wackiness occurs, with Barbara trying to rush home and meet up with her ever frantic father, Commissioner Gordon.
The Bet is another short but fun story centering on Ivy betting Harley that she can get more men in Arkham Asylum to kiss her than Harley can. Ronnie Del Carmen illustrated this story as well, and while his work here is a little wilder and less controlled than in The Harley and The Ivy it is no less wonderful for that.
The final story, Role Models, is the most unique. Rendered entirely in monochromic tones (the story was originally written for Batman: Black and White), Stephane Roux utilizes a slightly more realistic style than Bruce Timm. This works to the benefit for the story, however, which focuses upon Harley and Ivy playing hero to a little girl in need. It’s a heart-warming conclusion to the volume, which up until this tale primarily focused on humor.
It’s a bit hard to give an accurate age rating for this enjoyable collection. DC Comics’ website doesn’t give it a rating and most of the vendors I checked with list it as being for adults. The vast majority of the collected comics were originally written for young audiences but there’s enough saucy innuendo to make some parents uncomfortable (Ivy talks about “misting her fern” and Batgirl directly asks Harley and Ivy about their “special friendship”). And that’s ignoring all the scenes of the ladies lounging around in their underwear and the final story centering upon a serial a kidnapper. Put it in the Teen Collection just to be safe (they’ll appreciate the dirty jokes and feel oh so clever for getting them) and be ready to read it with your younger kids if you’re a parent.
Harley and Ivy: The Deluxe Edition
by Paul Dini, Ty Templeton
Art by Bruce Timm, Shane Glines, Dan DeCarlo, Ronnie Del Carmen, Rich Burchett, Stephane Roux
DC Comics, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: T (13 and Up)