Stephanie Phillips is playing a huge part in shaping the DC Universe. With her work on Future State: Harley Quinn and the upcoming Harley ongoing series she’s carving a voice for herself and the Maid of Mischief in the grimy streets of Gotham. But when we think about Harley, many DC fans can’t help but ask: “What about Ivy?” And although we haven’t seen Ivy yet, that will change soon. In the upcoming anthology Batman: Urban Legends entry “New Roots” with Laura Braga, Ivan Plascencia, and AndWorld Design, Phillips sets up a romantic mystery that will echo through the pages of both Harley Quinn and Batman.

Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in Batman: Urban Legends

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Nerdist: When you took on Harley how early on did you know you’d want to bring Ivy back into the fold?

Stephanie Phillips: Pretty immediately. Harley’s relationship with Ivy is something that I think is really important to her character and I was excited to highlight that with the short story in Urban Legends with Laura Braga. I also wanted to be able to explain how that relationship factors into the ongoing series starting in March with Riley Rossmo and let readers know how Harley feels about that relationship with Ivy and why it’s important to her.

There’s so much heart in this story. What was it like to take a break from the action and really dig into the pair and their relationship?

I look at this story as setting the stage for what’s to come in the ongoing, both in terms of where Harley’s relationship is at with Ivy and how Harley is trying to find inspiration to be a better person than she was the day before. I think that’s what makes their relationship really interesting. We are all works in progress… perhaps Harley more than others. But Harley has the motivation to try to change thanks to her love for Ivy. I loved getting to write this story because it’s so relatable and so human, and I think it’s important to see that side of Harley.

Why do you think that Harley and Ivy are such a fan favorite pair? What is it about their particular dynamic?

It’s a really positive maturation for Harley to be with Ivy. Ivy represents Harley’s independence—after Harley finally takes the steps to get away from a terrible past with the Joker, her newfound individuality and strength attracts someone just as strong and independent, and I think that’s what makes them such a great pair. Both Harley and Ivy are strong and literally deadly on their own, so when they come together they only complement one another. Not to mention how important I feel their visibility as a couple is for representing the LGBTQ community in mainstream media, and particularly in the DC Universe. I want to make sure that facet of their relationship is not lost as we move into the ongoing series.

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I love the idea here that they’re sort of this calm in the storm for each other, a safer space than your average Gotham hook-up. Could you talk a little about how you personally envision their relationship?

I think “calm in the storm” is a really great way of putting it. The opening image of this story is a slightly chaotic aftermath at the Iceberg Lounge where we have the Penguin and some of his henchmen beat up in the background as Harley and Ivy escape holding hands. It was really intentional on our part to open the story with a kind of nod to the insanity that can be Gotham, but despite the masked heroes and villains, Harley and Ivy have this really human experience and connection. Sure, one likes to smash things with a bat and the other has super-plant abilities, but falling in love and wanting to find that (sometimes literal) partner-in-crime is an extremely relatable feeling. I think this couple has just as much fun robbing Cobblepot together as they do watching movies on the couch in their pajamas.

Do you feel that Harley’s current redemption arc is in any way driven by her feelings for Ivy? What about her return to Gotham?

I definitely think that’s part of Harley’s inspiration for redemption and we will touch on this a little bit in the first issue of the ongoing. But I also think Harley has this drive to find her purpose in a Gotham that has changed a lot in her absence. While she wants Ivy to be part of that, there are still a lot of things that Harley has to settle on her own.

Though this is a really satisfying read alone, it teases something bigger. Could you hint at how Ivy is going to play into the bigger Harley and Gotham story?

I can’t give too much away, but we will address how Ivy fits into Harley’s redemption arc starting in the first issue. What I can definitely say is that our Harley very much still wants to be with Ivy, and while she might have some missions of her own to accomplish in this ongoing, Harley’s feelings for Ivy are not absent.

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What are you most excited about exploring with the pair going forward?

They’re just a lot of fun, aren’t they? The verbal sparring and teasing between them is so intimate and fun to write. I loved the chance to get to write about some of those more private and quiet moments between the couple, and I would love to get to see more of that.

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