In one of the oddest team-ups since Archie met The Punisher (or Sharknado, or The Predator), writers Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini brought together DC Comics staples Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy with Archie Comics mainstays Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge today.
Dini, famous for co-creating Harley Quinn during his time on Batman: The Animated Series, sought out Andreyko to help him write the series in part because, as a fan, he wanted to read it in a way that he could not if he was the sole writer on the project: as a fan.
“I just felt as much as I wanted to do this, I really also wanted to read it and I wanted to see what someone else would do with it. I thought Marc would be really perfect on this because he has this wicked sense of humor and he gets these characters,” Dini told ComicBook.com.
The pair worked together on the award-winning Love is Love anthology book, and Andreyko says that he would happily work with Dini for the rest of his career.
“He could have pitched me writing a manual for fixing lawnmowers; working with Paul is a privilege,” Andreyko said. “He’s been present in my life since 1992 when the series premiered before I met him, so to be able to work with him on a character he helped create is amazing.”
Both writers felt more or less the same way fans did about being approached for the series: glee, mixed with a bit of bemused wonderment at the idea that nobody had put the characters together already. As the pair "laugh like mental patients" while writing their jokes, Andreyko said, it turned out the project was even more fun than he could have hoped.
“Writing Betty and Veronica is so much more fun than I could ever have imagined,” Andreyko said. “For me as a writer, getting to write characters that weren’t on my bucket list and then discovering the joy of writing these characters is the best. It happened when I wrote Wonder Woman in Manhunter for the first time, becuase I was scared to death to write her; It happened to me when I just wrote an Adam Strange book, it’s like ‘I don’t want to write Adam Strange!’ When you get to write these characters with such expansive histories, you’re standing on the shoulders of all the works created by other people, so it’s just so much fun and it’s a privilege to get to write characters that are so in the public consciousness.”
With a major life-altering status quo happening for Betty in Archie and Harley and Ivy now officially a couple in the pages of DC Comics, don't expect to see the pair getting too into the nitty-gritty details of continuity.
“We’re trying to do versions of these characters that are faithful to the tones of them, but the story is a caper. It’s like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Andreyko explained. “We’re telling a story that’s like when you have a thread on your sweater and you pull on your sweater, then you have a ball of yarn. Things keep snowballing and snowballing to ridiculous lengths. If you know these characters, all the permutations of them exist in the story we’re telling.”
“It’s a setup that services both groups of characters, and form there we’re going to take it off the rails,” Dini added.
Andreyko noted that given the rapidly-changing nature of Harley Quinn in recent years, fans tend to have more of a general affection for the character and expectations of tone and mood than of specific details for the most part. That serves their story well, since it is set in essentially its own universe that can draw freely from other interpretations -- and Dini added that it fits what is going on at Archie Comics right now.
“I think the Archie characters and Archie as a published has proven to be masters of reinvention of the last five or six years,” Dini said. “You can do the classic Archie, you can do the life and death of Archie, you can do Afterlife with Archie, you can do the cute Dan DeCarlo-type Sabrina stories, you can do some that are absolutely nightmarish and horrific, and yet, there is something for everybody and if you know the core of the characters is, it all seems true.”
Andreyko said that even in the DC Universe, where fans tend to obsess over minute details, Batman is one character that seems to constantly be changing, and so having Harley and Ivy in particular be the characters who made the crossover felt like an easy enough leap to make.
“You can do the Adam West, the Tim Burton, the Christopher Nolan, they’re all valid interpretations of Batman, and Archie has been the human version of that, whether it’s the Mark Waid version or the Riverdale series,” said Andreyko. “What’s great about it is that everybody has familiarity. Everybody has their own director’s commentary for the story. Everyone we tell about it, everyone has a smile, and that ultimately is what we’re trying to accomplish with this book. The idea is so gleeful and mischievous and wacky and fun — and we have the freedom to tell an original story reading stories that are epically familiar.”
You can get a copy of Harley & Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica #1 at your local comic shop, at the Archie booth at New York Comic Con (if that's your thing), or you can get a digital copy on comiXology.