Probably the best depiction of Poison Ivy I’ve seen in some time. Yeah, that’s right. It seemed from the last issue of Detective Comics like this one would be all about Penguin again, but Layman’s Batman is always busy. Every night another rogue and while last night might have included a bit of a Penguin problem, now the Dark Knight has to stop Poison Ivy. It’ll all come back to Penguin again, don’t worry, but this one is primarily about Pamela. The first thing I like about Layman’s Poison Ivy is that she’s a villain again. I haven’t kept up with Birds of Prey lately, but apparently she’s been kicked out after showing her true colors (there’s a good joke about that in this comic by the way). So I’m ecstatic to see Poison Ivy causing trouble again even if I still wish she would act just a little more evil. Just a little bit. Secondly, Fabok draws her beautifully. Even those weird Mike Tyson face tattoos have been toned down to mere ivy sprigs from her hair. It looks great. Now, her suit still sprouts vine tentacles which is still a bit much for me but I can overlook that because Poison Ivy kisses her prey again! This has always been one of her defining traits, but I haven’t seen much of it lately. It’s always about the vines anymore. Vines, vines, vines. Whether they are from her suit or instantly sprouted from the ground around her, I’ve had enough of them. I want to see this woman kiss again and I want those kisses to either A) bend men to her will or B) kill. Layman’s Poison Ivy makes up for lost time and smooches a number of gentlemen in this comic and for that I’m grateful.
As for the actual story, it picks up right where we left off so you see the charity event with Penguin and the assassins get wrapped up fairly quickly and in an entertaining way that sets up some interesting elements for the future. Penguin’s right hand man comes off as even more of a bad ass than he did in the last issue and we even get an appearance by Damian who…I don’t think has shown up in Detective Comics yet in the New 52. However, Damian’s scene is the weak link of this issue. His voice doesn’t sound quite right and Fabok draws him like he’s 15 years old or so, but those are just minor things that can be brushed off. There are some funny lines here. The thing that dragged the scene down for me was mention of Alfred being oddly missing at breakfast ripped me right out of the story. By trying to connect every Batman comic to the same timeline they are handicapping some really good stories here. If you didn’t read Batman #13 I’m going to get into some spoilers in the next few sentences so just skip to the next paragraph but:
This comic mostly deals with Poison Ivy coming back to Gotham to wreck a few factories and Batman has to stop her before she hurts more innocent workers or calling down the wrath of the factory owner, Oswald Cobblepot– see, you might think that we’re straying away from The Penguin plot here but it all ties together quite nicely. It’s entertaining stuff with plenty of action, clever new gadgets, and even a surprise villain makes an appearance toward the end. An overall solid read with a backup that’s fun and well drawn as well.
There will be some spoilers in this section without tags!
Backup artist Andy Clarke does a phenomenal job here, but unlike Fabok he uses the ugly Tyson face tattoos on Pamela that I can’t stand. His Clayface is quite different as well. It reminds me more of Ben Grimm or the DC character General August in Iron (I think that was his name, he was in JLI). But he’s a pretty great artist and I’m liking him more and more each go round. He needs to be given his own full-time title already. As for the comic’s story, it’s about Poison Ivy breaking Clayface out of jail and man does it have a lot of cameos. You’ll even see that Sumo wrestler that Greg Capullo drew in Batman #1 that nobody could figure out who it was– he’s named “Sumo” here. This backup is only the first part of an ongoing back-up arc that will show how Poison Ivy and Clayface’s relationship works and I’m very interested to see that because to me this storyline is another nail in No Man’s Land‘s coffin. One of the biggest storylines of Vol. 2 of No Man’s Land involved Basil Karlo (Clayface) and Poison Ivy being at each other’s throats. They absolutely hated one another and it makes no sense whatsoever that they would help each other or fall in love with one another after an event like that. And it’s also said that Clayface is quite dumb here and I wish that wasn’t the portrayal they were going for. A smart shape-shifter would make for more interesting stories than just a giant mud man who does the heavy lifting for everybody else. But we’ll see! Maybe Poison Ivy is just underestimating this guy.
Great issue. I really enjoyed it and it’s a must-read for fans of Poison Ivy for sure. If you liked the humor of last month’s issue, that more talkative Batman is still here and there’s an awful lot of action, excitement, and gorgeous artwork as well. I highly recommend you pick up the Digital Combo pack, the colors on that one looked the most impressive. The book’s only real draw back is the awkward attempt to tie into Death of the Family and a really weak “I could kill you right now, hero. But I’ve got other stuff to do” moment. Otherwise, I found it to be a totally enjoyable chapter of what’s shaping up to be a good Penguin story.