In Review: Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica #1

This should please younger readers, while older fans should look elsewhere.

The covers: A foursome to find for those feverish for these famous female characters. The Regular cover is by Amanda Conner with colors by Paul Mounts. Archie is at Pop’s, sharing a shake with his two favorite gals, but instead of Betty and Veronica, who are in the background looking, respectively, shocked and annoyed, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are seated next to Mr. Andrews partaking in the drink. The redhead looks a little frightened at the twosome. Behind the characters is a wonderful mosaic of violet and pink, which to an observant eye will reveal a forbidding shape. Conner and Mounts always deliver the goods and this cover is outstanding. The Variant cover by Adam Hughes has all four characters in a police lineup, with the criminals strutting their stuff for the unseen officers, while Betty looks disgusted to be next to the pair, while Veronica wants to call her father. Cute and funny — the perfect combination for this cover featuring these characters. I read online that there is also a variant cover by Stephanie Hues, but, sadly, I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere, so good luck tracking that one down, collectors! The final cover is a Blank Sketch Variant cover. This is a stiff white cover featuring only the publishers, title, and issue and price at the top. In the bottom right are the names of the first five contributors to this issue. An artist could create a one of a kind illustration for this cover or a collector could track down all the creators responsible for this and get them to sign it. As always, this is a neat idea for a cover, but until it’s got something on it, it’s lacking. Overall grades: Regular A+, Hughes Variant A+, and Blank Sketch Variant C

The story: The teens of Riverdale are introduced to the reader, doing what they love: Jughead snoozing, the gang at the malt shop, Archie playing his guitar from his garage, Sabrina making a potion, and Reggie teasing Moose. The narrator of these panels is revealed to be Hiram Lodge (Veronica’s father) who’s in a commercial looking to get support to drain Sweetwater Swamp so that he may build Lodge University for college students. This advertisement comes to a close with a vase thrown at the television screen by Poison Ivy, who’s furious at Lodge’s suggestion. “Sweetwater Swamp is a unique ecosystem! It’s home to dozens of species of rare plants that exist nowhere else in the world! And that insufferable jackass Hiram Lodge wants to bulldoze it for a money-making scam!” Her fury doesn’t fall on deaf ears, as Harley practices her moves from a scarf hanging from the ceiling. Ivy convinces her they need to go on a road trip to stop Lodge. The premise in place, Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko then turn to Riverdale to show all the famous teens in action, with Veronica getting her friends to reluctantly help her with an event. There are some fun bits with the teens, with them having their usual skills and foibles, while the criminals have their antics tempered for younger readers. Page 18 is the funniest page in the book, with some visual jokes for older and younger fans. The book ends with an expected, but still fun, reveal. The jokes never are bigger than smile inducing, but this is intended for teens and younger. A decent read. Overall grade: B-

The art: Laura Braga’s art is well done. The criminals look like their modern day villainous selves, while the teens resemble their television counterparts. The first three pages are a good introduction to the kids, especially showing them in their respective elements. When Mr. Lodge takes over the focus, the visuals give him the perfect personae of a pitch man. The villains first appear in a full-paged splash on Page 4, with their dwelling looking much neater and respectable than I would expect of the pair. When the twosome get their close-ups on 5, they look much older than the teens and they radiate trouble, especially in the bottom two panels. Jughead’s close-up on 6 has him looking enough like Cole Sprouse to make my teenage daughters swoon at the illustration. Braga does a good job at making these characters emote, with Betty getting some solid emotions in her first full appearance. Veronica’s reaction at the top of 10 was the first visual that made me smile, since the artwork is a perfect match for the dialogue. The rivalry for Archie appears on 12, with poor Betty again feeling like she’ll never win the heart of the boy of her dreams. There’s a surprising reveal on 14 that also made me smile and generate some anticipation to see the rest of this new character. Ivy’s abilities get a subtle demonstration on 16 which would look good in any Bat-title. As stated in the story review, Page 18 has the funniest visuals of the book, which I will leave unspoiled. The final page is a full-paged splash that has several characters, all looking good. In addition to the character work, the backgrounds are nicely detailed, making the world that this co-mingling is occurring in more real. Overall grade: B+

The colors: All of these characters have a history of bright colors and the teaming of Tony Aviña and Arif Prianto continue this tradition. The first page uses calming blues and light browns to ease the reader into Riverdale, then using roses and reds to show the more active sides of the characters. Hiram’s commercial has him standing out boldly before a screen whose colors have been lightened to show it is a presentation. The fourth page uses some fantastic oranges for the sky outside the villains’ home, which is a good match for Ivy’s hair and the reds in Harley’s clothing. The greens that surround the characters are also good, with a brilliant emerald being used for Harley’s eyes and lips. The colors are not as strong in the Riverdale scenes, which are more passive, making them feel a little more real. The highlights in the crooks’ hair are very well done, as is the more subtle work done in the kids’ locks. The skin on the teens is really well done, especially on Betty and Jughead. Due to the nature of the final setting, the colors get joyfully loud, which also matches the intensity of the occasion. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Deron Bennett is the issue’s letterer, creating dialogue, yells, sounds, and whispers. There’s a lot of dialogue in this book, but Bennett never has it stepping on important elements in the art. There’s not much need for sounds, as this issue is laying the groundwork of things to come, though from the sounds that do occur has me hoping that Bennett will get the opportunity to do more. The whispering is the real stand out of Bennett’s contributions, with this quiet dialogue being done in capital and lower case lettering to set it apart, as well as being faded. Well done. Overall grade: A-

The final line: This issue is putting the characters in their places so they can meet and that’s about as far as things go. The story is cute, but not hilarious. The art is good, but not stellar. Intended for younger readers, this should please them considerably. Older fans should go elsewhere for their laughs and dynamic visuals. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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