Poison Ivy Deserves More Respect As One of Batman's Best Characters
So, Poison Ivy is having a moment, isn't she? She and Harley became a couple on the latest season of Harley Quinn, and her message about "stopping" people from literally poisoning the planet is very hard to not emphasize with nowadays. Recently, it's also been announced that the character will appear on Season 3 of Batwoman, played by Bridget Regan, who portrayed a pretty kick-ass proto-Black Widow on Agent Carter.
We'll have to wait a few more days to see what the show does with her once Batwoman returns on October 13. But if the writers know what they're doing, they'll take inspiration from Pamela Isley's best comic-book moments, and boy, are there a lot to choose from.
Controlling men using plant toxins and pheromones etc., has always been a big part of the character, and the newest comics have incorporated that into some pretty dark and bold stories. In The New 52 continuity, it turns out that Poison Ivy had an abusive father who ended up murdering her mother and burying her in the family garden. She eventually took revenge on him by fatally poisoning him, but what's really interesting about that story is that Pam's dad kept abusing her mom and "apologizing" by bringing her flowers.
Victims of domestic abuse staying with their abusers because they believe they've changed is tragically common in the real world, but with Poison Ivy, it becomes a fascinating part of her psychological profile as this dark experience gave her the idea of manipulating people with plants. That is pretty deep for a comic where the main character originally got the idea for his secret identity this way: "Hmm ... I need a scary symbol. Oh shit, a bat just flew into my house! That was pretty scary. Guess I'll become Batman."
There are more great stories involving Poison Ivy putting a man under her control, like when she hypnotized Clayface to make him believe they were in love. Let's take a moment to imagine their wedding night. Now let's take a moment to honor all those who just discovered they were perverts. Moving on. The themes of a woman exerting power and control over men are potent fodder for some great storylines in Batwoman. But that's not ALL the character is about. There is also a fascinating side of Poison Ivy where she struggles with the question of whether she is still human.
Well… is she? It's hard to say. Poison Ivy is apparently now on a similar power level to Swamp Thing and the Floronic Man, and those two are basically sentient Chia Pets at this point. Pamela is not there yet, and that struggle between her human and plant side has been explored wonderfully in a variety of places, most notably on the Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode "House & Garden," Pamela seems to have turned over a new leaf (God, I hate myself for laughing at this) by going to therapy, getting married, and becoming a step-mom. In the end, though, it turns out that the entire family were human-plant hybrids created by her. But even though they were not "real" how you or I understand it, in the end, Poison Ivy still mourns their loss. Hopefully, we'll see things like that explored in more depth on Batwoman.
What we almost certainly won't see, though, is Poison Ivy totally blazing it, which, according to Batman: The Widening Gyre, Pam does pretty regularly. See, this is what makes comics great: their ability to create crazy fantastical worlds of imagination because nowhere else would a pot-smoking, anti-capitalist lesbian be the villain and the billionaire with inherited wealth the hero.
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Top Image: DC Comics