The famous ladies of Riverdale and Gotham are switched no more! The fifth issue of Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini’s comedic crossover HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA sees the end of the body swapping problem and the beginning of an even bigger one: the destruction of both Ivy’s swamp and Veronica’s fortune! While this issue may seem just as silly as past ones, HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 actually has a lot to say about friendship and activism. Andreyko and Dini do a great job of balancing serious topics with comedic dialogue and outlandish scenarios.

Magic, Money, And A Lot Of Dynamite

A wild encounter with the Gotham police in HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #4 has Betty and Veronica (in Harley and Ivy’s bodies) rushing back to Riverdale in the hopes of regaining their original forms. They head to Sabrina Spellman’s house where she explains that, to return to normal, they’ll need physical contact with Harley and Ivy. A few dramatic panels later and everyone is back where they’re supposed to be… but the trouble doesn’t end there.

Ivy reveals Lenny the Lamprey’s plan to take down Veronica’s father’s business from the inside while also destroying Sweetwater Swamp. By becoming Lodge’s business partner, Lamprey will be paid restitution if (or rather, when) the Sweetwater building project fails. All of the money Lodge put into the project would be lost and so would the swamp Ivy’s been trying to save since HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #1.

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5
HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Not wanting to lose her inheritance, Veronica agrees to help. Things quickly go awry when Ivy and Harley decide to steal the deed to the swamp and raid the Lodge’s safe, which would still leave Veronica penniless. Lamprey’s henchmen interrupt the girls’ resulting squabble and take the four to the swamp. There, Lamprey describes his plan to blow up the swamp (with the girls tied up nearby) and collect the insurance check.

Femininity and Sensuality of DC Villainesses

Backstabbers Have To Stick Together

Since the past couple issues of HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA have been about the four adjusting to their switched bodies, we haven’t gotten to see the characters in their normal environments, being their normal selves. This issue finally gives just that. Ivy is back to her scheming self, using her plant powers to “persuade” Mr. Lodge to hand over the deed to the swamp. Veronica is once again a spoiled teenager who naively follows Ivy’s plan without hesitation. Instead of being forced to blend into a foreign environment, these characters can act the way they’re supposed to.

Andreyko and Dini perfectly capture the differences between the two sets of characters. Although they look similar, Harley and Ivy are criminals with more life experience than the teenage Betty and Veronica. They don’t play fair — especially not when the life of a swamp is in danger. In comparison, Betty and Veronica are high schoolers from a small town who are much more susceptible to persuasion.

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5
HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Harley and Ivy’s characterization also reminds readers of how loyal they are to no one but each other. The only reason Harley is even in this comic is because Ivy wanted her to come. Ivy is, of course, invested in saving the swamp, but when Betty knocks Harley over, Ivy is quick to respond. Betty and Veronica, though not canonically very friendly, also share a close bond. Even though Betty has no ties to the swamp or to Veronica’s money, she stays to help. If that’s not true friendship, I don’t know what is.

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Environmentalists Unite

Although there are serious topics behind the plot of HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5, a lot of it is purely fun. Many of the fight scenes parallel old cartoons, such as when Betty literally pulls a carpet out from under Harley. Even if slapstick isn’t your favorite type of comedy, there’s something nostalgic about sticks of dynamite and uncannily perfect timing. Something tells me Andreyko and Dini were big fans of Tom and Jerry.

Still, under the silliness, the plot is still somewhat realistic. Ivy’s willingness to fight Betty and Veronica in order to save Sweetwater Swamp is reminiscent of real-life environmental issues. The balance between peaceful protest and physical initiative is an ongoing debate that exists outside of Riverdale. By including silly elements alongside realistic issues, Andreyko and Dini are encouraging readers to think about things they don’t normally consider when reading a light-hearted comic.

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5
HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Style Matters in HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5

The biggest letdown of HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 is the art. In past issues, the stylized art of Laura Braga and the more realistic style of Adriana Melo worked well together because they represented a switch between Betty and Veronica and Harley and Ivy. In a story with a lot of body switching, the differences between the artists actually helped to show who was in the panel. Yet, with everyone back in their original bodies, the different styles don’t add much. More than anything, it makes the story feel disjointed and less like a complete issue. Both styles are good, but I’d like to see one artist complete the final issue so that it flows better.

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Final Thoughts

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 is a fun issue, full of magical talking cats and vine-wielding sirens. While seemingly simple, this issue delves into some serious topics and does a fantastic job of fleshing out the protagonists’ relationships. If you’re a fan of the Gotham City Sirens or ARCHIE comics, this series is for you. Look out for the conclusion of this title, HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #6, hitting shelves March 7th!

HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA #5 by Paul Dini, Marc Andreyko, Laura Braga, and Adriana Melo
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
The Riverdale and Gotham girls are switched no more! With her plant-powered body back, Ivy is more determined than ever to save Sweetwater Swamp from Lamprey's evil clutches. Writers Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini deliver a punch-packed issue, complete with a surprising amount of realism hidden behind the silliness.
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