Harley & Ivy:
Love on the Lam

by Judd Winick, Joe Chiodo
(DC Comics, 2001)

Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel) and Poison Ivy (Pamela Isley) have to be two of the all-time most inventive, most comically paired villains Batman has ever faced. However, even their particular brand of zany criminality isn't enough to keep Harley & Ivy: Love on the Lam from being a rather lightweight piece of fluff that doesn't really show either villainess at her madcap best.

Once again Harley has broken out of her glass-walled prison in search of her demented love, the Joker. In a sick attempt to win his never-to-be-had approval, she sets up an escapade that will of course require the help of her very close friend Poison Ivy. The scheme involves bilking a rich industrialist of the funds he's made exploiting the environment. This brings them into a rather predictable confrontation with Bruce Wayne/Batman at the usual charity fundraiser.

If the concept feels hollow and sketchy, that's because it is. Although Judd Winick is one of DC's best writers, having done tenure on Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Batman, Love on the Lam is depressingly formulaic, the scenario thin, the contrivances easy to spot and the characters little more than mildly diverting.

Additionally, Winick distances himself from what could be an emotionally rich and complex relationship between two women whose characters hover in the gray area between good and evil. Though in many respects the hotwire current of sexual tension between Harley and Ivy is a male fantasy, it is one of the more fascinating elements of their twisted bond. Apart they are complex enough: together, they synchronize in ways that take both characters to the next level of A-list badguyhood.

Instead, we're treated to the same glib one-liners and nudge-nudge, wink-wink humor, right down to the title itself, that serve to deflect any real attention from being focused on this aspect of their relationship. The avoidance sticks out like a sore thumb. Neither woman stands out as the twisted, razor-sharp villainess that she is. Oh, Harley is still crazy like a fox and Poison Ivy is still obsessed, but they seem to mope their way through by-the-numbers jokes and confrontations, acting out roles we've come to know too well without expanding or enriching the underlying themes.

Joe Chiodo's art is rather sexual though not necessarily inappropriate. Poison Ivy and Harley are, in all honesty, not just loved for their brains alone, and here the story doesn't let us down. It's cheesecake but it's admirably done.

The neatest twist in the story relies on Harley's airheadedness regarding the setting of a timing device on a bomb. The resulting shifting emotional alliances do make for some decent drama, but the characters are hindered by a script that pits them against one another as if there were no other way out. The ending is hardly a shocker. Provided that you don't really care about the story's predictability, Love on the Lam is a halfway decent read.

- Rambles
written by Mary Harvey
published 10 July 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.