Poison Ivy is a hero, sort of, and she’s working in a lab to crossbreed human and plants. Seems like a bad idea, but maybe she’s on the straight and narrow. Or maybe she’s homicidal. Be it as it may, is it good?
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #2 (DC Comics)
Last issue Poison Ivy was semi-normal acting as she quietly worked in her lab under the guise of a new identity. Then, the worst case scenario happened and someone was poisoned as a result of her experimenting. Now the poor person’s dead and the cops are all over Poison Ivy and the lab she works in.
Why does this book matter?
Amy Chu is writing a new Poison Ivy who’s a bit more subdued in her maniacal behavior. She still prefers plants over humans, but she’s trying to fit in at least. She wants to do good work, but one has to wonder if she’s pushed into a corner what she might do. Seeing her interact with coworkers is actually fascinating because she’s so odd and alien to the human world. That makes a dynamic that’s rife for good storytelling.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Chu nails the awkwardness of Poison Ivy quite well. While the cops swarm her lab she’s attempting to be a normal person but she’s quite cold when it comes to human interaction and her attempts to communicate like a person come off very stilted and bizarre. As the story progresses we get a fascinating interchange between her and a coworker who has sworn off eating anything alive and is a “super pacifist”. Poison Ivy is clearly smitten by the strange human being and it’ll be fun to see where their relationship goes.
Another interesting element Chu instills is the evil nature of Poison Ivy. You might have thought she’s gone straight, but this issue shows a darker side to the character that we know is always budding beneath the surface; a side that reveals she’s quite cold and very dangerous. This culminates into a conclusion that’s jaw dropping and quite horrific. Meanwhile she’s tracking down who killed her coworker and it’s fun to see a character as detached as she is attempting to solve a mystery.
The art by Clay Mann has a coldness that helps convey the distance Poison Ivy is having with her human compatriots. This is helped by the colors by Ulises Arreola of course, but Mann’s thin lined illustrations help convey an almost hollowness to the characters. The last three pages are quite horrific, but not due to gore or violence. Instead Mann shows how twisted and dark Poison Ivy, and the plants that are her friends, can be.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While I enjoyed the big cliffhanger I can’t say the story flowed as nicely as it could have to get there. It’s almost as if the issue lost a page or two and the emotional shift was jarring. We go from Poison Ivy sharing a nice moment to some scary imagery and violence. That makes the final moments almost confusing since the shift is so drastic. This dramatic shift occurs again earlier in the issue, although I think the earlier moment is more for shock value than an accidental one like the final moments are.
Scene of the crime.
Is It Good?
Generally this is a good issue as it conveys hollow nature of Poison Ivy and her lack of humanity. Meanwhile she relates to a coworker who is extreme in many ways but similar to her as well. The story progresses nicely and the mystery is unfurling in an interesting direction.