Batman #41 was a creepy psychological thriller. Then, Batman #42 did a 180 and gave us silly slapstick mixed with unexplainable scenarios. With Batman #43, we’ve yet again flipped in a completely new direction, poignant social commentary.
To be honest, I was dreading this issue. I simply couldn’t fathom how King could possibly pull out a worthwhile conclusion to such a massive plot given the space he had left. To be fair, he doesn’t address my concerns, but he did manage to broach an interesting subject. So, I’m caught between appreciating his attempt at shedding light on a topic that most likely hits very close to home for Mr. King and balancing that out with the disappointment I faced in seeing that he wasn’t able to show the same level of attention and zeal towards providing adequate explanations for in-world events.
I’ll start with my negatives. (Which are abundant. Just warning you up front.)
King makes absolutely no attempt to explain how Poison Ivy’s power levels were boosted to the extents that are depicted within this story.
First off, Ivy doesn’t truly control people to the extent that King depicts. She influences their choices. In the rare instances where she has been depicted as being more in control of someone than usual, it takes her full attention, and she isn’t typically able to handle more than one victim at a time at that level. And even then, the individual being controlled is aware of what is going on. And while they are being controlled, they are actively fighting that control. Actions that go against the core beliefs of the character being controlled typically allow them to break her hold. (For instance, Superman wouldn’t have killed Batman in the last issue.)
When King first introduced the idea that Ivy was controlling the entire world, I assumed she was merely influencing everyone and taking control of a specific few. Think of it like Agents from The Matrix. Everyone is happily going about their lives, but an agent can pop into any one of them at any given moment. While even that is a stretch for me, I could accept that more readily than her controlling everyone. And that is exactly what this comic explains. That she is absolutely controlling everyone and everything they do.
She gets briefly knocked unconscious in this story, and it is explained that if they don’t wake her up, people piloting planes are going to crash since they are unconscious too. Doesn’t that also mean everyone driving a car just swerved off the road and potentially had a fatal car crash? Everyone performing a heart transplant just skewered the patient and killed them? If you stop to think about it, this concept is utterly ridiculous.
I have no problem with Ivy influencing massive numbers of people. Think of it more as if everyone was merely drugged and in a happy stupor. This I can accept. But the idea that she isn’t just influencing 7.5 billion people, but actually controlling each and every action they take, simultaneously, is utterly ridiculous. It’s simply not possible. I mean, have you ever tried to have 7.5 billion different thoughts at the exact same time. Of course not. You can’t. It’s absolutely impossible. And it should be for Ivy as well. She doesn’t have a super human brain. Her powers don’t grant her that. She has the same brain we have.
In a way, it’s strange to argue these points, because everything she does is impossible in our world. But I’m going with the rules established within the world the story takes place in. If King wanted Ivy to be able to do all this stuff, I need some kind of explanation as to why she is suddenly able to. And just saying that it’s that way because the writer decided it’s that way is not acceptable. That is lazy writing. If Batman all of a sudden shot lasers out of his fingertips because the writer needed him to for the sake of the story, people wouldn’t forgive that. So why forgive an inability to explain away Ivy’s sudden power boost. I wouldn’t even need it to make reasonable sense. Just say she found an artifact, some alien gizmo, or something…anything to explain away what gave her temporary heightened abilities. As it stands, I’m now supposed to assume that this is how powerful she is all the time, even though I’ve been given no reason to understand why she is all of a sudden this powerful and have never seen her depicted as this powerful in the past.
This is a big problem for me, because it means one of two things. Either King doesn’t understand the world in which he is writing, or simply doesn’t care. Either of which are completely unacceptable for me. If you are going to write about something, you need to at least be as knowledgeable in the subject matter as your audience. And if you don’t care enough about the world to depict it properly, you need to get out.
On a less critical note, how exactly did Bruce free Harley from Ivy’s control? Everyone else passed out when Ivy passed out, and when they came to, they were still under her control. What exactly did Bruce do to free her? Like I said, compared with every other problem I have with this story, that was super minor. But I’m still curious.
What? Did…did love bring her out of the trance?
It’s also kind of annoying that the answer given as to how he was able to do it was, because he is Batman. I get that this is a thing. And it’s a thing because Batman is skilled. We accept that Batman can do things that are impossible because we have seen him do these things. But aren’t we also usually given reasons or explanations as to why he is able to do certain feats that seem impossible. It’s not just a given that Batman can do anything in the world. I be more ok with it if King would have at least given me some kind of explanation as to how, but he didn’t.
Incidentally, is their any reason Bruce couldn’t have administered the same shot he gave to Catwoman and himself to Ivy. Furthering that notion, why not administer that antidote to Superman and Wonder Woman and everybody else. Why not introduce the antidote to the water systems, systematically, so everyone drinks it…or something. I don’t know. When I really start to think about things, I see no reason as to why things needed to unfold the way they did. Essentially, if I can come up with a simple solution to a complex problem, I need to see that the writer also considered those routes of attack. And if the characters go about things in a far more convoluted manner, I need to know that they did it because that was the best route they had available to them. And if it was the best route, I need to be told why the simpler solutions wouldn’t have worked.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen King do something like this. He often comes up with very elaborate scenarios that either make no sense or can be easily handled through the simplest of actions. I’m just really, really, really getting tired of his inability to tell a story that not only carries weight (which his stories frequently do), but also makes sense and doesn’t have me questioning the character’s actions and the fundamental rules of the universe.
I know, I know. That was a lot of complaining. But if he’d stop doing so much inane stuff I wouldn’t have as much to complain about. I can’t stress enough that I have no vendetta against King. When he puts out a worthwhile story, I give it a great score. I don’t allow his previous flubs to influence my opinion of his good stuff. I’m simply reacting to what I am given.
On that note, as I already stated, I did like the subject matter: some wars shouldn’t be fought, innocents get hurt, young soldiers fighting for their country aren’t necessarily always behind what they are fighting for, and reintegration into society after experiencing the hardships of war is difficult. These are all extremely worthwhile things to discuss. And I appreciate them and the fact that King brings them up. But the fact of the matter is, so much of this comic is distracting me from focusing on what it is truly about. So much so that I can’t distance myself from all the mistakes in order to appreciate its message. And that is sad. Because it’s a good message.
He lied. That’s what villains do, Ivy. They lie. And maybe, just maybe, you didn’t understand this…not because you were weak or young…but because you’re not a villain.
- You want to see how “Everyone Loves Ivy” ends.
While Batman #43 presents extremely worthwhile subject matter, it’s told at the expense of proper in-world explanations for the unfolding events and adherence to previously established character portrayals. I suppose it comes down to how seriously you take your fiction. Personally, I’m very invested in Batman’s world, so I do occasionally side with putting more stock in the adherence of the make believe rules of his universe than i do over the importance of real world issues. So, when a depiction is presented that disrespects who I know a character to be and the way the universe functions, I take issue with it. So, I take issue with this story. I mean, is it really so hard for things to make sense and deliver a poignant message at the same time?
SCORE: 5 / 10