Hi, there. As happy and funny as Harley and Ivy’s stories tend to be, you won’t believe how wrong things have been going for them. The three continuities I will be covering in this thread will be the DCAU (where the Harley/Ivy dynamic was first introduced), the DCU (main comic book continuity until 2011), and the DCNU (current main comic book continuity, which includes the New 52 and Rebirth).
First, a brief intro to the duo. Feel free to skip. Poison Ivy. Lonely plant lady who generally treats romance like a play toy. She is no stranger to abuse. Depending on her origin, she was abused by Jason Woodrue, who seduced her so he could experiment on her, which turned her into Poison Ivy and/or Ivy had a dad who regularly abused her mom. On top of that, she finds humanity to be abusive toward plant life, which is significant because she can communicate with plants, plus her transformation actually made her half plant. Harley Quinn. She has/had a romantic relationship with Joker, who abuses her. Poison Ivy does her best to get Harley out of that abusive relationship, while at the same time, Harley is one of the few or only people Ivy legitimately enjoys spending time with.
Now, onto the DCAU. Let me say straight up that I will not take into account the Batman and Harley Quinn movie or either of the miniseries it spawned, due to the fact that they don’t even fit into continuity. In 1992, Harley was created for animated TV in Batman: The Animated Series (BTAS) in an episode called Joker’s Favor. Just a year later in 1993, the Harley/Ivy dynamic was introduced in BTAS: Harley and Ivy. Joker kicked Harley out of the gang. Ivy tries to teach Harley self esteem and make her forget about Joker. She gives Harley a shot that makes her immune to most poisons. In 1994, in BTAS: House and Garden, Ivy learned how to make plant clones of human beings and even herself. Batman killed all the clones using weedkiller and Ivy left Gotham. From this point on, Ivy gained a more plant-like appearance that originally was just a stylistic remake, but she ended up becoming more plant-like in general, in addition to her abilities becoming more powerful. Fast forward to 2004, the 2nd-to-last Batman story in the DCAU and definitely the saddest. It’s Batman Adventures #16 (not The Batman Adventures, an almost identically-named series), the main story being “The Bride of Joker”, with “The Flower Girl” as backup. Joker busts Harley out of Arkham to marry her, but it’s revealed he’s only doing it because Harley inherited money, and he plans to kill her after marrying her. Batman, Batgirl, and Ivy show up and successfully stop the wedding. Batgirl sprays makeshift weedkiller into Ivy’s eyes to subdue her, but she escapes. Batman then reveals that Harley faked the inheritance letter just so Joker would marry her, even though she knew he might kill her. Due to Harley’s interference, she gets mad and swears to kill Ivy next time she sees her. But it’s in the backup story that things really go wrong. Ivy ends up dying because of the weedkiller and it’s revealed that the Ivy that Harley’s been with for 10 years was actually a clone, while the original was just hiding out in a swamp the whole time. SO, QUICK RECAP! Harley and the original Ivy were friends for a year, before she left for good. Harley and plant-clone Ivy were together for 10 years, and were a bit MORE than friends. For all practical purposes, plant-clone Ivy was the real Ivy. Harley wanted to kill her in the end. She actually died and no one ever found out. The issue was definitely a masterpiece, and the plot twist was pretty good too, but they ended the Harley/Ivy dynamic on a destroyed relationship AND death. Yikes!
So, onto the DCU. In 1999, Gotham was hit by an earthquake, starting the year-long story arc called No Man’s Land. The city was sealed off from the rest of the country, and the city became overrun by escaped Arkham inmates, who divided Gotham up into their own territories. Naturally, Poison Ivy took control of Robinson Park. Harley Quinn crashed into Robinson Park in a rocket ship due to Joker trying to kill her. This was Harley’s first appearance in main continuity, and saw Ivy give Harley a shot that makes her immune to most poisons, in addition to boosting her agility, strength, and durability a bit. Just like in the DCAU, Harley goes back to the Joker now and then, despite Ivy always treating her better and trying to get her away from Joker. By 2007, Harley is mostly reformed, and by 2009, Harley lives with Ivy again and the two of them now live with Catwoman in Gotham City Sirens. But by the end of the series (and continuity) in 2011, Harley finally decides she wants to kill the Joker, only when she finally gets there, she can’t help but fall in love again and ends up releasing him in addition to betraying her best friend, Ivy. The two of them sort of make amends, but they have to part ways soon after. Although I have no problem with Joker showing up and Harley struggling with her feelings for him, she pretty much undid all the progress she made in the last 4 years.
And lastly, the DCNU. While it’s clear that DC has been trying to move forward with Harley by moving her away from the Joker, they still haven’t got things quite right yet. Now, just to clear things up, Suicide Squad is current continuity, along with most titles. Harley Quinn takes place in the future of the same continuity, but not as far in the future as Batman Beyond. Got it? Now, let’s talk about Harley Quinn’s solo, both her New 52 and Rebirth runs, which are essentially the same series. It’s made very clear the Harley and Ivy are the most important people in each other’s lives, but Ivy is only a recurring guest on the series, not a supporting character, which isn’t a bad thing in itself. The real problem is that not once, NOT EVEN ONCE, do they ever explain why they care about each other so much, and Ivy gets ZERO credit for helping Harley finally part ways with the Joker. Well, at least nothing too bad has happened to Harley and Ivy yet? Speaking of…
The new upcoming limited series Heroes in Crisis! So, there are 22 character listed, 2 of which will die, 2 of which also happen to be Harley and Ivy. Although the chances are pretty low… don’t. Just don’t. Please. Also, looking at the above numbers, I can’t help but feel like Two-Face is involved, although it doesn’t seem like he is. Anyway, if DC is still undecided on who to kill, may I present 3 very simple rules…?
- Kill a character who’s defining story arc is finishing up and/or is not a fan favorite
- If it’s the angle you’re going for, definitely try to make it as sad as possible
- Don’t resurrect them. If you follow Rule 1, you really don’t have to.
And I’d like to finish up the post by talking about the upcoming Harley Quinn animated series. I’m super hyped, because Poison Ivy WILL be a supporting character, so please would you finally not mess up the Harley/Ivy dynamic? Ooh, and since Joker will also be a supporting character, I sure hope Joker and Ivy get into plenty of fights. That could be fun to watch.