Nerds That Geek Comic Book Review - 'All-Star Batman' #7: 'Ends of the Earth - Part Two: Poison Promises'
Written by Joel T. Lewis
I’m going to be honest with you dear readers, I wasn’t very excited to read the Poison Ivy issue of All-Star Batman. Coming off such a powerhouse combination of Scott Snyder’s storytelling, Jock’s incredible artwork, and one of my favorite villains, Mr. Freeze, I didn’t think that Poison Ivy or artist Tula Lotay would interest me all that much. I was wrong. Where Jock captured the temperature and isolation of the Mr. Freeze storyline, Lotay makes issue 7 every bit as lush and colorful as it needs to be to mirror its central focus, which is impressive considering this section of the ‘Ends of the Earth’ arc takes place in Death Valley, Nevada.
By and large my experience with Poison Ivy has not been a positive one. I believe the only comic book that I’ve read which featured the Pheromone Femme Fatale was her brief appearance in the 'Knightfall' story arc (an arc which I would wholeheartedly recommend as it features one of the most iconic moments in comic history, the breaking of Batman’s back). In Batman #495 'Strange Deadfellows' Ivy fights Batman with a host of entranced Gotham socialites who have fallen victim to her chemical charms and were interrupted as they rushed to give the object of their affection all their money. This is a similar storyline to what was probably my first introduction to Poison Ivy, the 'Eternal Youth' Episode of Batman: The Animated Series. In this episode Alfred visits a spa and is brainwashed into becoming a humanoid tree by Poison Ivy’s special brand of persuasion.
These two storylines, a particularly scenery-chewing performance of Uma Thurman’s, and the Arkham series video games constitute the extent of my knowledge of Poison Ivy, which is probably why I was not too excited to see an Ivy-centric issue. Before reading issue 7, I thought of Ivy as a seductress without much substance, but Snyder breathed new life into the character for me by playing up the passionate researcher and toning down the seductive temptress. Ironically, shifting from Freeze to Ivy was not as jarring a transition as I was anticipating (remembering the awkward pairing of the two in 1997’s Batman and Robin) as Snyder reminded me that Victor Fries has an awful lot in common with Pamela Isley. They have very similar origin stories, scientific backgrounds, and go to environmental extremes in pursuit of their goals.
The other refreshing aspect of Snyder’s Ivy is that Batman doesn’t have to thwart a world domination type scheme or have to fight through a horde of flora-infected goons to stop an extreme green world agenda in this story. He comes to Ivy in the midst of research, not scheming and we get to see a side of the femme fatale that is really endearing. Batman turns to Poison Ivy to assist him in containing the virus that Mr. Freeze had meant to unleash on humanity. Unfortunately, Batman’s clever response to Freeze’s plan in issue 6 wasn’t able to eradicate every microbe of the ancient plague and now a little girl’s life hangs in the balance. Still pursued by the mysterious strike team that caught up with him and Freeze in Alaska, Batman rushes to enlist Ivy’s help before both the young girl and Ivy’s research subject, an ancient descendant of the Tree of Life as Ivy refers to it, suffer messy ends.
It is really impressive that after a 5-part story that shed so much light on the relationship between Harvey Two-Face and Batman, that Scott Snyder’s follow-up arc has been no less insightful. Using single issues and specific artists to capture the essence of a new villain each month, Snyder demonstrates that he is truly at home in the world of Batman. Whether he visits a member of the rogue’s gallery for a single issue, a five-month arc, or a panel-length cameo, All-Star Batman is in good hands with writer Scott Snyder. I also need to acknowledge Tula Lotay’s beautiful work with colors and contrast. The desolation she creates in her desert scenery and the cloud of color that follows Ivy from panel to panel are skillfully executed and add so much to the issue. Ivy's research tent is a lush oasis in the middle of a barren wasteland and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Lotay’s work from now on. Next month Batman takes on the Mad Hatter! Until next time, Geek On!