Back in ’94 Marvel and Archie raised eyebrows across the comix community by pairing comicdom’s favorite red-haired teenager with its most deranged vigilante. Back then, of course, Archie was a fading brand sold at grocery store checkouts to nine-year-old girls, and the Punisher, the darkest dude in comic books.

A lot has changed since then.

In 2017, Archie’s mainstream line may be the most relevant and entertaining comics available, and the company has opened up to entirely new markets. In addition to the good ol’ kiddie digests, still available in grocery stores and pharmacies everywhere, other Archie alt-realities include a retro-sixties Sabrina whose witchcraft draws from actual demonic sources, a zombie apocalypse Archie, and the predictably “edgy” and wildly CWesque iconoclastic and wildly popular Riverdale TV series. So when Archie and DC combine to bring several of Gotham City’s sirens to comic-book small-town America, it feels a lot less groundbreaking. It’s just the world we live in.

The question remains: does the team-up work? Is it worth reading?

Title: Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica Issues # 1 and 21

Writers: Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko
Artist: Laura Braga
Colorists: Tony Avina and Arif Prianto
Covers: Amanda Connor, Paul Mounts, Adam Hughes, Emanuela Lupacchina, Tomeu-Morey, Dan Parent.
Editor: Kristy Quinn

Premise:

When Hiram Lodge announces his intention to drain an ecologically-unique swamp in order to build new businesses, Poison Ivy grabs Harley Quinn and heads to Riverdale to stop him. It’s a good move in any case; the pair have incurred the wrath of everyone, from the Justice League to a Gotham gang boss named Lenny the Lamprey.

Of course, there’s a costume party at the Lodge Manor, and Betty and Veronica have come dressed as… Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Meanwhile, Zatanna turns up and touches base with Sabrina, Catwoman arrives to listen to Josie and the Pussycats- —but with a plot in mind—- and the Archie gang remain entirely oblivious to the danger they face.

High Points

Betty and Veronica try on alternate costumes: the artist has fun.

Archie tries to convince people that Captain Pureheart is a thing worth remembering.

Jughead wanders through the story being Jughead.

Low Point

A certain story detail reminds us, rather aggressively, that Harley used to be one of the few DC villainesses who didn’t wear a revealing outfit. I wish that had never changed; not every evil metawoman needs to be defined by her sexuality. But it happened. No need to rub it in our faces.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 After meeting the Punisher, the Predator, the Monkees, the Ramones, Kiss, zombies, Satan, Cthulhu, Gen13, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, and announcing their forthcoming 2018 encounter with Tegan and Sara– not to mention their past adventures as spies, superheroes, and evangelical Christians— the Archies can’t surprise us much with this comic. Its many Easter Eggs may be amusing, but they’ve become business as usual. The comedy of mistaken identity is, meanwhile, as old as Plautus, and that’s just in print. I suspect Homo erectus spun funny tales of identity confusion ’round the campfire.2

Artwork: 5/6 Archie meets the Punisher kept Archie and the Punisher in their then-expected forms and made the visual incoherence a statement. This version uses the current rebooted appearance for the Archies, and draws the DC characters to match. It makes more sense, but seems like a lot less fun.

Story: 4/6 Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals feel strangely at home in a world where superheroes and villains exist.

Characterization: 4/6 The characters remain true to their most familiar versions.

Emotional response: 4/6

Flow 5/6

Overall: 5/6 The story makes for a fun page-turner and, in that, meets the expectations for mainstream comics.

In total, Harley and Ivy meet Veronica and Ivy 29/42.

Notes

1. The series will be reviewed two issues at a time.

2. GRONK: So, this baboon look exactly like Oog….

OOG: Except when it walking away. Then it look exactly like Gronk