‘Poison Ivy’#1 is a horrifying yet gorgeous character study that delves deep into the mindset of someone that has lost so much and is on a mission, no matter what that mission means for their own survival. Such an earthy-looking story that dabbles in the horror realms while making the villain at the center of the story someone that is relatable in many painful ways.
When it comes to the colorful ‘rogues’ from Gotham City that cross paths with Batman and his family time and time again, there are certain ones (especially a certain clown) that hog all the spotlight and take up all the space these days. This is a damn shame because there are so many interesting characters within that sphere, and finally one of them is getting more of the spotlight she deserves.
After having massive world-changing powers ripped away from her and going from two beings back to one, Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy is a woman on a mission. While individual humans can be cool and great, the mass of humanity is not only destroying the world little by little but themselves as well. Poison Ivy has a plan to deal with this at last, even if that means that she too is going to die since she is part of humanity.
We’re given such a dark but relevant and refreshing look not only into Pamela’s headspace but also at our world as a whole. Yes, in the conventional sense she is the villain of the story and has a body count in this issue, but there is more to things than hero and villain. In the real world, these issues broached are not so clear cut, and some of the points made about humanity are not wrong. There are also explorations of deep depression within, especially once we learn fully what Ivy has lost.
G Willow Wilson gives us a ton to think about and mull over in this story while also zeroing in on the humanity that is still within Pamela, especially when it comes to Harley Quinn and the love and issues between them. As much as she loves Harley, she feels she needs to do this mission and needs to end it all especially now that her connection to the Green (the same thing that Swamp Thing is part of) has been severed. In many ways, she’s lost, having had a grand connection, great power, and a purpose that was all torn away from her in the name of love.
Marcio Takara and Arif Prianto are doing tremendous work on this series right out of the gate. In many respects, this is a horror series as well as a character study, and Takara nails both of those aspects perfectly. There is tons of emotion on display and great detailed imagery from the characters to the world around them, and then when the ecological horror aspects creep in it is truly horrifying and beautiful at the same time. Bodies twisted and broken down through nature, and a stunning scene through the almost drug-addled vision of one of Ivy’s victims.
All of Prianto’s colors fit this because there are tons of vivid natural colors, but they are toned down in an almost Earthy way. There is a lot of weight to them, and the horror aspects give room to go really wild out there with the color palette beyond the levels seen in the more normal sort of moments. There is a balance in these colors which correspond to the variety of views we are getting of Ivy’s mental state in these moments.
Lettering and the art around it are such a truly fascinating thing, as it’s not just about putting down the words being spoken or thought but about also helping create the mood. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou does that so well, adding things like differently shaped dialogue bubbles to showcase differences in voices or changing the size of the font to make the volume/tone clear, like a bigger font for yelling or smaller font for whispers. Giving Ivy’s bubbles color while others are normal is another nice touch to separate her more from the humanity that she disdains but also realizes she is part of.
With the SFX all too often we think ‘sounds’ in comparison to things we really can hear in the world. Yet, as Otsmane-Elhaou shows here, SFX in comics goes far beyond actual sounds as one can add SFX that corresponds to an action like the blowing of powder at a person or give sound to something that we can’t even normally describe in such terms like the thunk that comes with a punch.
Poison Ivy #1 is now available.