DC Comics’ eco-horror series continues to showcase both the darkness but also humanity that remains within Poison Ivy, even as she moves closer and closer to the completion of her murderous final plan. This is one of the best dark character studies around, full of powerful emotion, darkness, and gorgeous yet terrifying horror to be found.
There is the old adage that every villain is the hero of their own story. They believe that whatever they are trying to achieve is for the right reason, even if its one that the rest of humanity might not agree with. Pamela Isley is in that spot right now, doing murderous villainous things for reasons that she believes are for the betterment of the world. Yet, her own depression and missing god-like powers might very well be what drives her more.
So, yeah, things are a bit complicated.
G Willow Wilson is doing a masterful job at allowing us into Pamela’s head, showing us that there is humanity within her even if she fights it and tries to stick to her bloody plans. Harley Quinn remains the thing that anchors Pam to humanity, that love is still there despite their being broken up and apart, and Pam’s plans that will see the world and herself ended. It’s refreshing to get a story that is from a villain’s perspective that is nuanced and deep, but also gives us such a great look at humanity as a whole, both the good and the bad.
Again, one thing that works well is that many of Pam’s points or thoughts are not wrong when it comes to humanity and what we are doing harm-wise to this planet, yet she and we see other things here that show how nuanced humanity is and the idea of destroying all of humanity for the sins of some or most is a dark wrong way to look at things.
Marcio Takara and Arif Prianto continue to do truly amazing work with this series. There are horrific vibes to be found all over the place, yet it can switch easily to a more ‘normal’ sort of appeal during some of the more human moments. This is an eco-horror character study, and the emotions are worn on the sleeve and perfectly visible with the way that Takara brings characters and the world to life. Especially with the great paneling choices, specifically when we get a lot of close-up shots of Pam and others throughout the pages.
Prianto gives us vivid bright colors that have an Earthy quality to them but are almost very watercolor/paint like in many places which is really nice. Bright flashes of color help lighten up particular panels, while deep dark shadows are brought in when it’s right to heighten the horror aspects when they are in play. The balance between the bright and the dark is handled brilliantly, allowing us to really feel the variety of moments and the mental state of Ivy.
It’s so easy for many to look at lettering as just putting the dialogue into bubbles on the page, but the best letterers put so much into their craft. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is one of those best, bringing such creative and powerful energy to his work to make sure the mood is felt through the whole issue. Doing things like changing the shapes or colors of the bubbles or the fonts makes the voices feel different and stand out (such as the green used for Pam), and many changes allow things like volume/tone to be even more clear on the page since we can’t actually hear them talking. Jenny and Ivy having a split shared green/white bubble was such a cool touch and a great way to do the whole both people saying the same words thing.
Ivy’s narration captions being on paper, reaching back to the fact that she is writing everything down as she prepares to die on this mission, is just so neat. Same as having Jenny’s poem burst out of her bubble-like it’s on the page of a book. All of these are things that just make the book even better and more lived-in, keeping to the same powerful energy that is coming from every creator involved. Comic books are gorgeous and fun and when creators really tap deep into that, it makes everything better.
Poison Ivy #2 is now available from DC Comics