It’s All Green From Here: Reviewing ‘Poison Ivy’ #6
by Scott Redmond
‘Poison Ivy’ ends its first arc just as strong and emotionally powerful as it began, telling a complete story that leaves the character perfectly positioned to dive right into the upcoming second story arc in a new way. A hauntingly beautiful eco-horror tale through and through, it doesn’t shy away from challenging moments or topics as it takes us deep into the main character’s mind. A must-read story for Poison Ivy, DC Comics, or just overall comic book fans!
Issue after issue, Poison Ivy has been a dark and powerful glimpse into the mind of one of Batman’s most famous rogues but also a deep hard honest look at the world around us. All the sins and flaws but also the beauty and generosity, all wrapped around Pamela Isley’s plot to wipe out all of humanity (herself included) in order to save the natural world. While we knew this mission would fail (can’t wipe out the whole DCU after all), the journey was always much more important than the destination.
As stated, this has been a dark and emotional storyline, with Ivy wavering through this whole story especially as she records it in documents to be sent to her love Harley Quinn. The last issue saw her moving to confront trauma by taking on Doctor Jason Woodrue/The Green Man/Florinic Man who was behind her initial unwanted transformation into Poison Ivy. Here G. Willow Wilson picks up masterfully from the cliffhanger of that last issue with Ivy at self-inflicted knife point and the horrific Woodrue cackling with power over her. Like many egotistical terrible men, that false bravado and sense of power was his undoing.
We see Ivy wrestle with so many emotions, from fear to anger to acceptance before the Batman in her mind (a perfect manifestation of her conscience or willpower or just mind overall) pushing her to fight all the way back. This is an eco-horror story, and this issue uses that to its fullest power with the horrific, traumatic, and powerful scenes that lead to the return of Ivy’s powers and killing as well as the subsequent consuming of Woodrue that occurs.
Wilson perfectly built this path from issue one to here, showcasing the good and the bad along the way, to get us to a point where Ivy is able to realize that there is goodness within humanity and things worth saving and her power could be better used to do what the heroes won’t do, wipe out the things that are bad to both humanity and nature. I’m beyond happy that this series is getting a second arc, after selling so well, but at the same time, this arc was so well structured that it has a beginning, middle, and end that would have left a reader quite satisfied had it ended here.
We get a mix of artists again, with Brian Level returning to tackle the first half of this issue joined by Jay Leisten handling the inks with regular colorist Arif Prianto coloring that half as well as the second half alongside regular artist Marcio Takara. Just like with the last issue, I really like how they go about sectioning off the two art styles letting them handle entirely different aspects of the issue so that the artwork is contained and tells a full story. Level and Leisten handle the first section which is the horrific and brutal confrontation with Woodrue.
They do not hold back from the horror angle as Woodrue is this overbearing twisted horrifying creature with crooked teeth and green dripping from everywhere, always towering over Pamela until the end when she is able to push back. Tapping into the nightmarish quality the book has had since it began, they make sure that it has some creepy beauty to it as well. Deep and dark and hard to look upon. Having Woodrue lording over Ivy is a mirror to the flashback pages Level handled in the previous issue, where human Woodrue was lording over the captive Pamela whom he was experimenting upon without consent. No matter the form, his terribleness knows no bounds.
Takara tackles the post-Woodrue pages here, with Pamela entering society again and stumbling through the world as she presumes to be potentially dying. These pages are deep and detailed but at a level that keeps things out of focus at times in order for us to never waiver from our attention to Ivy and what she is going through. It’s got the same hauntingly beautiful feeling as previous issues, the world just beautiful and open yet full of people and brightness as she stumbles through. Backgrounds fade in and out as the panels constantly shift to allow for close-ups and other elements in keeping our attention at all times on the title character, and what is happening to her in these moments. As she completes her transformation, the style of the world around her transforms as well to match this new energy that has found her, green energy.
Green comes into play a ton with the whole plant theme and the actual The Green (the cosmic force behind nature and tied to Swamp Thing), and Prianto plays that up all through the pages. Between both art styles, Prianto covers them in colors that are bright and vivid but also heavy and deep with inherent darkness or shadows to them which fits the story tone. All the greens are brighter than other colors, showing up on most pages in ways, that remind us of what is in play. In the scene with Ivy moving through humanity again, we see the green showing up in hats and scarves and other non-plant related things before suddenly the spectacular shift comes with her return to The Green, and green is splashed all over the page in a wonderful display.
Rounding out the creative team is Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou still on letters, bringing the same terrifying but beautiful energy to the page. Woodrue’s bubbles are creepy and green letting us hear just how awful his voice and personality truly are, with the fake Batman bubbles also being somewhat scary in form but without the creepy green energy, they are more welcoming since we know that is Pam’s mind pushing back. Otsmane-Elhaou makes sure to hit the right levels of volume/tone all over the place by altering the font which lets the whispers look like whispers and yells look like yells, so we can hear it correctly as we read along. All of the SFX play right into the tone as well, as we can ‘hear’ the squishing and other gross sounds that come from the brutal dispatching of Woodrue that occurs mid-way through the issue.
Oh, and the use of sentence case in Pam’s letter narration as opposed to a capital case for normal conversation is a great visual choice. It makes sure that the written voice of hers we see stands out from the actual voices of the in-the-moment action, and fits with the idea that it’s a letter that is being written by Ivy at some point after this all is finished.
Poison Ivy #6 is now available from DC Comics.