I’m not going to beat around the bush (pun intended), I really loved today’s chapter of Poison Ivy! It’s like all of my criticisms during the middle of this series were responded to, and G. Willow Wilson is making her turn on Poison Ivy the very best it can be.
I’ll waste no time in explaining what I loved about this comic!
Art Used to Perfection
We open with a flashback to the creation of Poison Ivy herself, with an evil Jason Woodrue standing over her. We are then treated to a very surreal plot, jumping from the distant past, the near past, and the present as we get explanations of how Ivy came across her fungal serum and who has been following her. We also get to explore Ivy’s psyche to get to the bottom of who she really is as a character. All the while, we are treated to different art styles to further heighten the real intensity of what is going on.
Ivy’s flashbacks of Woodrue cast him as a skull-eyed, snake-tongued monster, highlighting her extreme hate and disgust for this man. The art style for these pages reminded me a lot of Gulliem March’s work. The characters have sharp facial features and a lot of contouring line work, but the art is actually inked and penciled by Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Level, respectively. We go back to Marcio Takara’s softer art style during the sequences set closer to the present, but those panels are still giving a trippy “Alice and Wonderland” vibe. It is interesting how Adif Prianto still gives brighter, more saturated colors to the more recent flashbacks to indicate a time when Poison Ivy was in more control.
I don’t know if having more artists on this issue was intentional. I’ve certainly seen a lot of DC comic books lately where artists are mixed in merely to spread out the workload. But even if that is what happened with this comic, this is the way to handle that situation. The differing art styles are used in a creative way to enhance the story. This is how comic book art should be done!
Who is Poison Ivy?
At the very beginning of my reviews for the series, I claimed I was disappointed by Ivy being so defined by Harley Quinn. I expressed how I wanted the other important characters and moments in her history to be explored as well. I’m pleased to say this comic continues the latter! We finally get an appearance by Batman as a voice of doubt in Ivy’s mind. I appreciated that, since it seems as though writers have forgotten what a big role Batman himself plays in Ivy’s story (and all of his villains’ stories). With the inclusion of Jason Woodrue as well, we also get some deeper insight into who Poison Ivy truly is.
Poison Ivy and Pamela Isley are confirmed to be two different people. Pamela is the wide-eyed, good natured botanist who wanted to help people. Her mind was mangled and destroyed, becoming “Poison Ivy,” a new monster of Woodrue’s creation who is insane and convinced that her destructive actions will save the world. It’s an interesting acknowledgement that is probably the closest I’ve ever seen Ivy come to admitting that she is not well in the head, and that she is not the person she was ever meant to be. Someone else changed her.
But Ivy’s not merely an innocent victim. The big reveal we get is that Ivy went to Woodrue herself, right before the events of this series, and got the fungal serum from him. However, Woodrue, it turns out, is not the patsy Ivy tried to turn him into. No, it is revealed that Woodrue’s serum is in Ivy, too, sickening her. The comic ends with Ivy in a vulnerable position as Woodrue reveals that his serum has also given him the power to control her.
So Poison Ivy fancies herself the hero to the natural world, and she perceives Woodrue as the ultimate wicked, misogynistic villain in her life. Yet, Ivy went to Woodrue herself and took his serum for her own plan! Ivy thought she had control over Woodrue, and control continues to be one of the primary desires and themes to her character, yet the story ends with a reveal that it has never been Poison Ivy in control of this narrative. We leave our protagonist in a weakened position under the control of her abuser.
Hmm… Ladies and gentleman, I’m pleased to announce that Poison Ivy is being written as a complex character! How wonderful!
I’ll say it again, I absolutely loved this comic. If I were to really criticize anything, it would be that sometimes the surreal nature of the story, and the many time jumps, got a little hard to follow, but I understood everything by the end. I also thought Woodrue’s sexist dialogue was a bit on the nose at times, but it could be that is merely how Ivy wants to perceive the man. Mind you, these are merely small nitpicks in an otherwise great comic.
- Poison Ivy is one of your favorite characters.
- Floronic Man is one of your favorite villains.
- You love psychedelic comic book art.
If you’re not reading G. Willow Wilson’s Poison Ivy, you should be. It is a diamond in the rough of DC comic books coming out in this day and age. It’s taken a character whose personality was lost and given her definition and complexity again. I don’t know if issue #6 will stick the landing as a conclusion to Ivy’s first arc, but for now, I’m incredibly happy with this series.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.