Poison Ivy is a great example of a comic character that can change with the times. Initially, Ivy was a one-dimensional woman. She became this kind of floral sexpot, and a Halloween costume favorite. My understanding of the most recent DC lore is that Ivy is more of a benevolent eco warrior (terrorist?) interested in taking care of planet through whatever means necessary. She has also had a romantic relationship with Harley Quinn. (I got a little bit of that in Paul Dini’s Harley & Ivy, but I’m not up to speed fully.) One of my personal favorite versions of Ivy is in the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight. Without giving too much away, I found her to be the most compelling character in the game. She has a strong moral code. Her understanding of what life is, and the line between nature and humanity, was fascinating.
I was hoping Amy Chu’s Ivy would be that Ivy. To some extent, she is. Chu’s Ivy is first and foremost a researcher. She’s interested in pursuing scientifically the harmonization of flora and fauna. That makes sense and is the most interesting aspect of the book. I also enjoyed the cameo by Catwoman. While I’m not fully caught up on Gotham City Sirens and other storylines, Chu’s writing makes it obvious that Catwoman and Ivy have a friendly past and easy chemistry. The plot itself is an interesting mystery, although illustrator Clay Mann’s focus on Ivy’s butt and torpedo-like breasts detracts from both the character and the plot. (The book cover isn’t indicative of the art inside.
Everyone probably has a different opinion about how Ivy should look and act. My personal mix is Detective Comics #752. In this issue, Ivy is a charismatic eco-warrior clothed in flora. Why would she need a lot of clothes when she’s a plant, anyway? Plants love sun! In that version of Ivy, she’s a natural leader and cares for both her plants and her human disciples. The natural conflict that results from her priorities vs. mainstream society’s makes for a compelling character.
Overall, I liked Amy Chu’s writing and characterization. With a different artist this book would’ve been 3.5/5.