SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #42 by Tom King and Mikel Janin, on sale now.
Tom King and Mikel Janin's "Everyone Loves Ivy" has been billed as a Poison Ivy story, but the final page of Batman #42 could turn it into a Harley Quinn and Ivy story instead. While Poison Ivy has used her powers to take over the minds of everyone in the world besides Batman and Catwoman, the Bat and the Cat have set out to undo what the villain has done, and their path just crossed the Joker's ex's.
In this issue, Ivy sends the full force of the Justice League after Batman and Catwoman. After they are captured, Batman goads the Ivy-possessed Superman into punching him, landing him in the hospital, and very nearly dying. Of course, this is all according to Batman's plan. Knowing Ivy would need to bring in a gifted doctor to help mend his head injury, Bruce has been placed in the care of, and now has direct access to Harley Quinn, the one person who may be able to stop Poison Ivy.
Harley Quinn Steps Back into the Mainstream DCU Spotlight
Over the last few years, Harley has received a huge boost in her status among DC's best and most successful characters. Since 2011, she has starred in two different ongoing solo titles, several iterations of the Suicide Squad, and a multitude of successful spinoff series. She has also starred in both live-action and animated films. In quick order, Harley went from underutilized fan favorite to multimedia franchise megastar.
However, despite all the hype that has surrounded her and the huge boost she received around the release of Suicide Squad, she has mostly been relegated to her own corner of the DCU. Her solo series might technically be in continuity, but it rarely crosses over with any part of the greater universe. The Rebirth Suicide Squad title has been the only way she is allowed to consistently interact with the world at large, while her solo adventures have remained essentially hidden.
Having Harley show up in Batman #42 is a huge step toward bringing her back into the fold of Batman's universe, and the greater DC Universe. Bruce intentionally gets injured in order to gain access to her, so it's clear his plan to save the world involves her in some way. Despite the fact that she's a regular member of the Suicide Squad, it's hard to really consider her a villain at this point, and seeing her step out of the shadows and back into the spotlight at the center of the DCU (as a hero, no less) is exactly what she has been missing.
Harley and Ivy Are Back, Baby
The fact that Batman potentially needs Harley to derail Ivy's plans for world domination is no small detail. Harley and Ivy have a long, winding history that started with friendship in Batman: The Animated Series, and has since become something more. In the current Harley Quinn series, the line between friends and lovers has become... blurred after years of teases and fan speculation. While it wasn't directly referenced in the issue, Harley's connection to Ivy is ;likely why Batman needs her help.
Ivy mentions to Catwoman that she previously struggled with control over her powers and impulses. In turn, this led her to fear what she might do to those around her, but by taking over the entire world, she can finally take back control. "Everyone Loves Ivy" is a story about vulnerability and a quest for redemption. What better way to defeat an enemy who lacks control than by exposing them to their greatest vulnerability? What better way to find redemption? This could be the first story to truly follow up on their new status as on-again-off-again lovers since their on-screen kiss in Harley Quinn #25 from August.
The storyline concludes in Batman #43, out later this month, but no mention of Harley exists in the official synopsis for the issue. King and Janin snuck this one in under the radar, and a new chapter in the Harley and Ivy dynamic is about to hit the stands. As successful as Harley Quinn has been on her own, it is truly great to see her featured prominently within a Batman story once again. It's also nice to have what could be the promotion of a major same-sex relationship within the pages of one of the industry's most popular comic books.