With this week’s Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #1, writer Jody Houser has set the tone for a unique in-continuity look at two women whose experiences in DC’s Heroes in Crisis event bring a more somber tone to what’s usually a funny pairing.
Coming off her run with Young Animal's Mother Panic, Houser is taking on the popular villains after Heroes in Crisis had Harley Quinn framed for murder and Poison Ivy dead. The latter’s resurrection has also left her without a human body, now composed of plant matter and connected to the Swamp Thing-associated entity the Green.
Joining Houser on the book is artist Adriana Melo, whose work on Plastic Man prepared her for the humorous sight gags and stretching appendages inherent in a comic book featuring Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
With the book’s first issue featuring Poison Ivy literally eating fertilizer (which contained “a little extra something” that made Harley say “blerch”), as well as a visit from the Floronic Man from the Swamp Thing mythos, Houser is mixing kooky Harley-gag scenes with serious threats and current continuity.
Newsarama caught up with Houser to find out more about the approach, whether this ties in with the Harley Quinn ongoing, and what readers can expect from Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
Newsarama: Jody, in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sanctuary, you’ve got a lot of baggage to deal with in the book going forward. We saw a bit in issue #1 about how Ivy and Harley are dealing with what happened. How does your story kick-off from there?
Jody Houser: Harley has just gotten Ivy back.
Ivy's just come back.
For both of them, their focus is figuring out how to get back to a place they recognize. If they can.
Nrama: Ivy was experiencing some real mental challenges when she was killed. Is she going to continue to seek treatment? Or does she have bigger problems?
Houser: Any treatment Ivy seeks is likely to do more with the immediate past, seeing as she died and grew back from a flower. Even for her, that's a lot.
Nrama: Yeah, let’s talk about that. The first issue featured an almost unnerving portrayal of Ivy’s difficulties with her new plant-based body, and we’ve already met the Floronic Man. What kind of new challenges will Ivy face because of her new plant-based structure and connection to the Green?
Houser: Part of this series is finding out the answer to that question. Neither Ivy or Harley are sure how different she is since she came back.
Nrama: The artwork in the first issue really sets the tone for Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy. How has it been working with Adriana Melo?
Houser: I’m having a blast working with Adriana. I love the emotion and energy she brings to the characters.
Nrama: Let’s talk about Harley Quinn as a character. She exposes some sorrow in this issue, but she has such a unique voice that she’s just naturally humorous. Even your first page’s narration features her calling something “wackadoo.” What’s it been like writing Harley?
Houser: I’ve actually written her before, in Mother Panic: Gotham A.D.! It's fun to get back to writing her... I've been a fan since I was a kid and she first showed up in Batman: The Animated Series.
Nrama: DC has a concurrent Harley Quinn ongoing that’s running. Does this series tie in to the Harley series at all?
Houser: This series is fully in continuity, while the Harley solo series is continuity-adjacent, so they won't be directly connected.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Harley’s experience at Sanctuary led to a decision in the first issue to turn heroic - although it’s only been a few minutes so far. Without asking for spoilers, does this stick?
Houser: It will pave the way for the whole series.