I found the last issue of Poison Ivy to be a major letdown. The series went from an overall good exploration of Ivy’s character to, once again, trying to straddle the line between making her a hero while maintaining her iconically evil traits. That change for Ivy came too quickly for me to buy into it, and I felt she had become a confused character once more.
But was I wrong? Can this series redeem Ivy as a hero despite all the carnage she’s already created? Let see, shall we!
A Completely Different Series
Reading this chapter in Poison Ivy is truly like starting a new series. There are a couple plot threads that are carried over from the last arc, but we have a completely different art style and a completely different story structure as a whole.
Previously, Poison Ivy had been a character drama, where each issue would explore more of Ivy’s psyche and and her motives. Now that Ivy seems to have figured out who she is, this new arc is mapped as your standard ongoing heroic series, where there is a villain that challenges the hero’s noble goals, and the suspense is based on if the hero can defeat said villain. It’s a pretty sharp change in experience from the last 6 issues: the readers aren’t just supposed to be interested in Ivy as a flawed, yet dimensional, villain, they are supposed to be on her side as she tries to achieve her goals.
Does the New Direction Work?
Because of the sharp contrast in what these two arcs are going for, I’m not sure that everyone who’s been reading this series from the start will be on board with it now. For one thing, the new artist, Atagun Ilhan, is a definite downgrade from Marcio Takara. I praised Takara’s artwork for the open, lush feeling it gave the environments, and for how he drew Ivy with a pixie-like face that could range from mysterious to friendly to sinister. Ilhan, despite having the task of portraying Ivy in a more heroic light, draws her with sharp lines and features. She’s mostly portrayed as either frowning, scowling, or giving evil looks. How am I supposed to buy into this character as a somewhat reformed villain when she’s looking like this?
Further, there is a stiffness to all the characters in the book now, as if there’s only so far their lips and eyes can move, giving them limited expression. It’s a disappointing downgrade from what was being delivered before.
Moreover, just as the artwork makes it harder to believe in Ivy as a redeemed character, the writing does as well. The baggage Ivy carries for having killed and attempted to kill so many people in her past still lingers. It could be an interesting plot line to explore whether Ivy should even be allowed to continue fighting for her cause, given her sporadic and extreme behavior in the past, but the comic doesn’t address that.
Instead, Ivy’s first impulse with her “new outlook on life” is to take out a rich CEO she admits she knows has three kids, because their company was contributing to pollution. She only backs down, a little bit, when she finds out that the company employs poor people who can’t get a job anywhere else. I can’t help but see the strings being pulled behind the scenes with this writing. Ivy has never cared about humanity, rich or poor, in the past. However, if she’s changed from that standpoint, she should want to try to give everyone a chance going forward, especially this woman Ivy admits she knows has a family. It feels less like Ivy’s gained true empathy for humankind and more like she’s going by the progressive playbook of “rich people bad, poor people good.” And that makes me not really see her as Poison Ivy, but as what some people would like Poison Ivy to be.
Which is a bit frustrating to me. If Ivy is going to become a more heroic character, then the change needs to be built up properly, respecting how the character has been portrayed in the past. It needs to address the harm she’s caused and require accountability for it. It also needs to prove why this new, heroic version is interesting enough to be followed. Instead, Ivy’s character progression feels rushed and forced, as if there was going to be a different ending to this story, and then the creative team changed their minds on the direction.
- Poison Ivy is your hero
- You were not a fan of Marcio Takara’s art
Poison Ivy got 6 extra issues because of how many people were buying the series, only to have the added arc take a completely different direction. The change is far too sudden for me, and I imagine there’ll be other readers lost at this point. That is, unless, the crowd that DC is listening to puts their money where their mouth is and shows there truly is more interest in Ivy as a hero.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.