Detective Comics 23.1: Poison Ivy was written by Derek Fridolfs with art by Javier Pina
After the events of Trinity War and the beginning to Forever Evil, the villains have taken over the world! This of course includes Gotham, a city that probably has the highest supervillain-to-average citizen ratio in the DCU. All of the inmates of Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison have been set free to take over Gotham and do as they wish. For Poison Ivy, this means getting in touch with her inner-nature.
As Ivy walks through the streets of Gotham, the city crumbles around her as people riot and loot, buildings burn to the ground, and violence engulfs the population. Ivy takes this time to reflect back on her upbringing and what led her to become the villain she is today. By the end of the issue, Ivy makes it clear that she faults Wayne Enterprises for many of her problems and she makes her mark on Wayne Towers.
The Good: We get a glimpse into Ivy’s childhood, back when she was still Pamela Isley. Her upbringing was terrible to say the least, as her father physically abused her mother until it ended fatally. The writer, Derek Fridolfs, did a good job of relating her experiences as a child to what she learned from those years. The story moves quickly to show Pamela grow from childhood into her college years and finally her experiences at Wayne Enterprises that created Poison Ivy. Most people know Poison Ivy has power over vegetation but the average reader may not know how Pamela got those abilities originally. This Villains Month issue does a nice job laying out her New 52 origins, motives, and backstory. In the present-day story, Fridolfs and artist Javier Pina show the reader just how ruthless Poison Ivy can be, as we see her manipulate men around her and overwhelm them with The Green. She’s not out to kill everyone like some psychopath like Zsasz, but she won’t hesitate to crush you between the grip of some vines and bury you beneath the soil either if you get in her way. She is a woman on a mission who will not stop until Gotham is covered in green.
The Bad: It’s a good origin story, but there’s not much else happening in the present day. For most of the issue she is walking through Gotham dispatching of random thugs and gangsters that cross her path. Eventually we see that she’s headed for Wayne Towers and there are some big things that happen there, but it takes a while for her (and the reader) to get there. Some of the Villains Month books are mostly origin stories while other books are mostly plot-driven tie-ins to Forever Evil (I’m looking at you, Scarecrow). Poison Ivy is the result of trying to do both within one issue. Her origin story felt rushed like they quickly moved on from some key points, while most of the present-day story feels like filler set-up to Forever Evil and Arkham War.
The Verdict: Detective Comics 23.1: Poison Ivy was a decent issue that shed some light on Pamela Isley in her past and present, but it wasn’t enough light in either time period. It would have been better, in my opinion and what do I know, if this issue was either an origin story or a plot-related tie-in to Forever Evil. I would have liked to see an in-depth origin story that dives deeper into her childhood, psyche, motivations, and character personality. Or it would have been better if they skipped the origin and focused solely on her interactions with other Bat-villains and how she fits into Gotham City during Forever Evil. That being said, we still get to see how ruthless Poison Ivy can be and some hints at what is to come for her in Forever Evil. It’s a fun study of Poison Ivy, but I wish there was more to it.