‘Poison Ivy’ #1- How Do You Solve a Problem Like Pamela?


 Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1
Written by Amy Chu
Pencils by Clay Mann
Inks by Seth Mann
Colors by Ulisses Arreola
Published by DC Comics                                       

Looking at the Grand Comics Database, a repository of millions of comics, typing in “Poison Ivy” comes up with a list of the comics and her appearances in one shots as well as her appearances in foreign reprints and a few one shots. Wonder Woman writer Robert Kanigher ,inspired by fetish pin up icon Bettie Page, created the character alongside Sheldon Moldoff. Initially her early appearances were as a temptress, but she graduated from that to outright villainy when DC editors at the time decided to make Catwoman more sympathetic.

During the Bronze Age, Gerry Conway and artist Gene Colan did a long running memorable storyline  which reveled in her bad girl status as Poison Ivy AKA Pamela Isley attempted to siphon funds from Wayne Enterprises. Bruce Wayne couldn’t do anything about it since he was under a post hypnotic suggestion and couldn’t even tell the police, but eventually she was stopped by Batman and Robin.

Many writers have changed her origin and these days Ivy’s a lot more complicated, a combination of plant and human and an eco warrior rather than just a criminal. She gained prominence in the short lived Gotham City Sirens comic as part of the troika of Catwoman and Harley Quinn.

More recently,  the friendship between her and Harley Quinn has evolved into a on/ off relationship with her and also she’s a human/plant hybrid as a result of her father’s genetic manipulations. There’s a wealth of material there, and many readers have been clamouring for a Ivy solo book online for some time, and Amy Chu and artist Clay Mann have decided to explore the character for a six issue mini-series.  

The first issue does feel like a new beginning for Pamela and perhaps a jumping on point for new readers. She’s been given a second chance by her old mentor, Luisa Cruz and begins working as a scientist at Gotham Botanical Gardens, which means working alongside humans.

When Harley pops around for a visit we’re reminded of her past, Chu uses Harley to demonstrate Ivy’s new abilities to humorous effect in a bar brawl. It’s not long before her idyllic life is shattered when a friend is found murdered which sets up the story for the next few issues.

Whilst many readers have found Ivy hard to empathise with, Chu successfully her in a completely different light. Isley has always been a complex multi layered character. As a hybrid she’s having trouble fitting in with the rest of humanity, and she wisely decides to give Harley the dump, for obvious reasons that she’s not going to fit in the book at all.

It seems this series is going to deal with Ivy’s estrangement in a big way which should make entertaining reading. On the art side, Clay Mann makes a magnificent return to mainstream comics after a stint at Valiant. Like many artists who focus on Ivy’s sensuality,  it’s included in here, but alongside inker Seth Mann, and colourist Ulises Arreola, Mann  manages to convey her sense of alienation at the same time.  


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