Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1 Review
by Bryan Scheidler
There is a current trend in comics right now to rehabilitate villains and let them play with good guys, and believe me I get it. Villains are always the more interesting characters to read. They are not constrained by the same rules that heroes have and because of that, writers get to be more creative. Think about it, the stories when heroes get pushed too far and break their own moral code are always the most interesting. The problem then with turning villains into heroes is that it takes away a lot of what we loved about them. Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death does not suffer from this problem.
There is a very good reason why this book’s spin on the “Villain becomes a Hero” trope is so successful in my mind, it’s because Ivy isn’t a hero. What we see in this book is a change of tactics for Ivy, her motivations haven’t changed, her driving goal hasn’t changed but she has refocused her life and is “going straight” to achieve that which is most important to her, saving plants and the planet. In this first issue it is clear Ivy isn’t a good guy or a bad guy, not a hero or villain, she is just Dr. Pamela Isley PhD AKA Poison Ivy.
Something that has always bugged me about many comic book villains is that their motivations always seemed weak. That is why characters like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy are so appealing and are loved by readers. They are not out for personal gain; they have a life’s work that drives them and they would pursue it whether they had powers or not. For Ivy she has returned to the lab, using her powers and her brilliant mind to try and solve problems in a smarter way. This is not her having a massive and unbelievable change of heart, just a decision to be a precision instrument rather than a blunt tool.
Clearly I am a fan of the story that is being crafted here by writer Amy Chu. She has set up a great story with a compelling mystery that I won’t ruin here. The art is also fantastic through out this issue. Clay Mann does an amazing job showing Ivy’s internal struggle in his art. Where most of the people stand out when surrounded by plants, Ivy is the opposite. She blends into the surroundings when with her plants. But stands out like a sore thumb when in a human environment.
This is the first issue in a 6-issue mini-series, but hopefully this series won’t be the last we see of this newly focused Poison Ivy. This is a character that deserves more time in the spotlight, especially when written by Chu and illustrated by Mann.