Harley and Ivy: Love on the Lam
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Joe Chiodo
By Michael David Sims
At first I wasn't fond of Judd Winick's writing. Not just his writing, but him being in comics at all. Having spent the better part of the last decade trying to break-in myself, I thought he used his pseudo-celebrity to acquire his gigs. Then I read his autobiographical Pedro & Me (and several issues of his run on Green Lantern), chronicling his time spent in the Real World: San Francisco house and subsequent friendship with AIDS activist (and victim) Pedro Zamora. It was then that I realized three things:
01. I was simply jealous of Judd for having made it.
02. He busted his ass to break into the business and spent more time attempting to do so than I.
03. He could write stories that touched the heart.
But then I read Harley and Ivy: Love on the Lam.
It all starts out with Two-Face stealing 22 ornate mirrors from the Gotham Museum of Fine Art, only to be interrupted by Batman and Batgirl who really turn out to be Harley Quinn and the Joker in disguise. (Why were they dressed-up as members of the Bat Family? Trust me, that's the least of this book's problems.) While Harvey has promised the mirrors to an overseas buyer, the Joker wants two of them for his breakfast nook back at the hideout. No, seriously a breakfast nook.
Unwilling to let the mirrors go, Harvey pulls a gun and Joker a rubber chicken. A rubber chicken which might contain explosives or might just be a rubber chicken. Quinn plays mediator and convinces Two-Face and his goons to walk away with 20 mirrors, while she and her pudding' leave with the two they came in for. No coin flip or gunfight, just a sexy little dame in a skintight red and black outfit playing peacemaker.
After loading up their two mirrors, the Joker flips his lid and berates Harley. He insists they should have killed Two-Face, taken all of the mirrors and sold them to Harvey's overseas buyer for a big payday. "But no," the Joker yells, "you had to go all Mahatma Gandhi and 'settle' it." And he boots her out of the moving van, leaving Quinn to find her own ride home. A home that no longer exists by the time she catches a cab back to the abandoned amusement park.
So what's Harley do? She devises a plan to earn her own keep. Not to make it on her own, as the Joker insists, but to get back into his good graces.
Enter Poison Ivy Harley's often unwilling partner and unheard voice of reason who wants nothing to do with this caper. And just what is the ingenious plan? Harley wants to "Hack into and steal funds from Branaco, the largest communications company in the world... [which makes] Lexcorp look like a ten-year-old with a ham radio." To accomplish this, however, they have to access the mainframe from the inside the building. Can you say contrived? I know you can. What's that... you're too bored to even try? Yeah, me too.
Of course Ivy wants nothing to do with it, until Harley reveals Branaco operates a subsidiary that's known for dumping toxins, stripping trees and infecting rain forests with their tropically located factories. Say it with me now contrived.
CUT TO: EXT. BRANACO BUILDING NIGHT
Enter Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake as they stroll into Branaco's $1000 a ticket charity event. Why did Bruce bring Tim to the party and not a buxom date? How else would Robin get there once Harley and Ivy break-in if he didn't tag along with Bruce? Er I mean, he wants to play the new Cave Fighter video game, which is being revealed at that very party. Why is a video game debuting at a $1000 a ticket party? So Tim can be there, of course.
Enter Rose (a smokin redhead), Fiona (a hot blond) and Reed (their burley escort) who all look so very familiar yet Bruce, the world's greatest detective, doesn't recognize them. As the two make their way through the crowd, Tim finds a blasting cap that Fiona / Harley dropped, raising his curiosity.
Just as Tim shows Bruce what he's found, Harley and Reed jump the security guards and set 40 pounds of C-4 to explode in 15 minutes. A big error if there ever was one. It was supposed to be 15 pounds of C-4 set to explode in 40 minutes. Oh well! It just means the building will crumble much like this story.
Pissed, Ivy tells Reed and Harley to clear the people out of the building, because they "didn't plan on killing any rich scum tonight." So then why did they set the bombs in the first place? ARGH! Head! Hurts! But before they can reach the crowd, Batman and Robin show up for a fight. As it turns out, Reed is really just one of Ivy's plant-people (who looks suspiciously familiar), and, as he and Batman duke it out, we're privy to a rare occurrence in superhero comics Tim punches Harley right in the face. Normally, when a superhero must fight a supervillainess, he subdues her with minimal force (as if implying women arent as strong as men) or binds her with rope (as if bondage is better than physical abuse).
To end the fight, Batman pulls out some sort of freezing agent (from where?) and drops the now-frosted Swamp Thing look-alike. In the process, however, Batman froze himself, Robin and Harley in place as well. To free themselves and save the people from the still-counting down bomb, Harley has to reach into Batman's belt for a laser which can be used to melt the ice. As she does so, she tickles Batman's... er... little Batman, causing him to go cross-eyed with boyhood wet dreams.
Meanwhile, Ivy's leaks Branaco's illegal activities to the press, Batman attempts to deactivate the bomb and Robin and Harley blow a hole into the wall so everyone can escape before the bomb destroys the building. And, in the end, instead of apprehending Harley and Ivy (who pilfered millions of dollars, nearly murdered hundreds of people and destroyed a billion dollar skyscraper), Michael Branac (CEO of Branaco) is arrested on numerous human rights violations. So Harley and Ivy saved the day...?
Oh, let's not forget the reason Harley perpetrated this crime to woo Mr. J and prove she can make her own money. And, after she buys him a new hideout and supplies (with plenty of cash left over), he punts her out once more.
Place an E at the end of the title, and run away fast!