Pamela Isley aka Poison Ivy has always been a prominent member of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery and now, with Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death, she gets her own (limited) series. Written by Amy Chu with art by Clay Mann, the first issue finds her trying to–forgive me–turn over a new leaf. Hoping to leave her criminal past behind, she wants to recommit to her first love, science, but then her old friend and partner in crime, Harley Quinn, shows up.
Harley and Ivy have had a somewhat ambiguous relationship since the characters first interacted on Batman: The Animated Series and this book appears to be similarly coy. “You know I’m a hybrid in a lot of ways,” Pam says to Harley at one point, “Stop trying to classify me.” Certainly Harley’s general sense of hurt skews bruised lover and Ivy’s pot shot at the Joker suggests she may not be as stoic as she tries to appear.
The same goes for her attempt to leave her criminal past behind. Pam insists throughout the issue that she wants to focus on her scientific work. Yet the moment Harley gets into a scrape with some smarmy men harassing a waitress, Pam conveniently pulls out a new pheromone concoction she developed at her supposedly honest job.
While the issue makes a lot of the fact that Ivy struggles to balance the criminal and scientist parts of her personality, it’s equally concerned with the fact that she is both plant and human. While the plant part seems to have all the companionship it needs, Pam doesn’t realize how desperate she is for human connection too. How and from whom that companionship comes is, frankly, far more intriguing than the more pedestrian comic book plot.
That goes for Mann’s art as well. Though it’s competent and realistic, it’s also indistinguishable from any other major character book from the big imprints. Regardless, there’s enough in the first issue to justify buying at least a few more of the remaining five issues. But maybe that’s just me. I’ll stick around for even the barest hope of confirming the Harley/Ivy romance.