POISON IVY: CYCLE OF LIFE & DEATH
Writer: Amy Chu
Pencillers: Clay Mann, Stephen Segovia, Robson Rocha, Julio Ferreira, Ethan Van Sciver, Al Barrionuevo & Cliff Richards
Inkers: Seth Mann, Jonathan Glapion, Art Thibert, Dexter Vines, Sandu Florea, Ethan Van Sciver, Scott Hanna & Cliff Richards
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Rating: 7/10 Bouquets
It’s hard to enjoy nature and all the green outside when it’s been such a stormy month. Luckily, this week’s votes from the comic community allowed me to enjoy The Green and all its splendor through Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death from Amy Chu. I was very curious about this story when I first discovered it. Growing up watching Batman the Animated Series, Pamela Isley had always been established as a staple rogue in Batman’s gallery. With DC Rebirth being where I first began my collection into comics, it was interesting seeing the ecoterrorist tend to be more of a neutral type character who had moved beyond crime in Gotham. This story seemed like an excellent exploration of Ivy as Cycle of Life and Death began in 2016 and wrapped up at the start of Rebirth. Warning. I’m growing spoilers here.
Chu plants us right into the story with Poison Ivy donning her lab coat to begin her workday at Gotham’s Botanical Garden. Looking to turn over a new leaf, her former life as a criminal is kept under the dirt as a friend/mentor from the facility gets her a job onboard so that she may continue doing the research she was well known for. Her latest project, human/plant hybrid babies. Everything in Isley’s life is growing in order when all of a sudden her colleague is murdered and it looks like the work of someone like Poison Ivy. As bodies begin dropping, Poison Ivy must juggle being a new parent to some fast-growing kiddos, her work life, former criminal friends, and solve the mystery of the murders and what has happened to her missing research.
Going through this read, Cycle of Life and Death has some amazing art in it. I was amazed going through the issues to see how many artist changes were happening within this series. So many artists in the garden to grow their skills! With Clay Mann (along with his brother Seth) delivering the majority of the series with his amazing character work, each page has Poison Ivy flourish at the foreground of each panel she is in. It was also a pleasant surprise seeing Rocha in here, who I have become more familiar with as they bring the new Aquaman series to life with their great strong designs and great attention to detail in the littlest things happening on each panel. The rotation of artists was a refreshing experience within each issue as it gave this mini-series the opportunity to let different talent shine, while still keeping the overall color themes of greens, reds, blues, and browns consistent with Arreola on colors.
Overall, this story was a decently good read. On top of this being a story about a reformed villain seeking to do good or just have a normal life (which I am a sucker for), the murder mystery aspect of it was a fun element. It’s also just nice to have more female solo series in DC. My only real gripe about this read was the need to have men be involved in some romantic form or another. Poison Ivy immediately deals with getting rid of a disgusting man who was not respecting her boundaries and hitting on her, only to essentially gain a male companion in the story who, for the reader, makes it very clear that he has a crush on Ivy. The character Darshan is even given a background that has Ivy put some consideration towards him as well as receives these remarks from others. Despite this, Chu gives us a female character that is confident, powerful and though she may have some social issues, works through them for her friends.
I really wish this series could have continued on in Rebirth. Chu set up a couple of interesting story threads that would have been really fun to explore if this series would have taken root better with the DC heads. With Ivy’s connection to The Green, similar to that of Swamp Thing, there could have been a lot of cool stories to tell as she walked between both the world of humans still as well as plants. Her current status is a little iffy as of now but who knows, maybe the seeds of Chu’s story in Cycle of Life and Death will grow again. Until then, if you are looking for some Poison Ivy focused reads outside of Harley Quinn, this is a read for you.