World Comic Book Review

11th April 2024

POISON IVY (review)—”Seduced by life and death”

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Artists: Marcio Takara, Arif Prianto

DC Comics, June 2022

AN ALIEN GARDENER arriving to cultivate the planet would have to worry first about the human infestation. Even humans, supposedly rational, in a mass look like a flourishing plant species, a fungal bloom overpowering everything around it. How living things love to multiply.

This alien-gardener premise describes the new POISON IVY series started in 2022, now up to eight issues or so. The cover on the first issue warns: “Humanity had its chance.” Sounds like standard super-villain fare, with a touch of super-hero bravado, too, ready to defy the mega-growth of humans suffocating all else out of existence.

Give Earth a chance. Earth lives matter. This penchant is the new humanism.

In this incarnation of a poised Poison Ivy, writer G. Willow Wilson nods to current popular worries about deforestation, pollution, and the human population bomb getting ready to climax the planet into something we have no idea what. In the first issue, clothed in fabulous artwork by Marcio Takara and colorist Arif Prianto, Ivy kills several individuals in a few pages, instantly and with no shade of malice or regret, all pleasant like. The victims do not so much die as transform into a flourishing mass of microbial life inside flushed to the surface to settle who is boss of this body.

When she really gets going, Ivy flames into one of her many changing guises, a blazing flower, thorny trunk, skin like a mossy bank, ringed by auroral lights spinning in a cosmic gale. Masked in this guise she tells her latest victim: “Life, death, rebirth. The Green is always thinking.” She pauses, looks intently. “And right now, it’s thinking of you.”

Sometimes it made me shudder with a twinge of collective guilt for all the concrete, cars, pollution, farm factories, rivers dammed and sucked dry, and volumes of extinct and endangered species that I benefit by, and in some respects have to approve to survive. Such original sins are stamped on our existence at birth.

Ivy herself is haunted by some kind of monster pursuing her, sent by the Green Man, whoever that is. Also, she is infected with a deadly virus, which she intentionally spreads in public places. This is how she intends to curb the weeds: with poison.

By Issue 4, Ivy shows up for a job at a mail-order warehouse as a good place to release her deadly virus across the country. As in previous encounters, the place is one more manifestation of the current human blight, in this case dehumanizing workers in oppressive jobs they are desperate to keep. She makes friends easily, has a little love affair, wonders what her abandoned partner Harley Quinn is doing, charms some, kills some, and moves on.

A confrontation is coming and Ivy is going to transform into something else, the way living things do as they grow. Whoever she has been in the past as a stock villainess in the Batman universe, and who she is about to become matters not at all. After the taste of the first few issues, I trust author G. Willow Wilson shall keep enchanting us in this pretty version of Ivy’s story as she glides along, independent and purposeful, and deigns we follow.