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[personal profile] stubbleupdate posting in [community profile] scans_daily
A long time ago, when Ann Nocenti was announced as the new writer on Catwoman, I had a look around to see what else she had written to see if I liked her stuff. I think I only read a preview of her Catwoman (where Selina hisses No parents! I'm a bastard child! Can't you tell?) and then decided it wasn't for me. It was a good decision, as it really wasn't for me.

Better value though was her 2004 work with
John Van Fleet on Poison Ivy: Cast a Shadow. I haven't seen anything like his work in my time of reading comics, except a little bit of Johnathan Hickman's early stuff. Fleet is very moody and dark, but uses light and shadow well, especially in this story which is all about light and shadow.

Because it's Ann Nocenti, it's absolutely barking. It's a clear enough story, and follows the standard things you'd expect from a Poison Ivy tale, but everybody involved goes around chewing the scenery.

The synopsis is pretty standard too
A rash of bizarre deaths Batman has been investigating is somehow linked to a new tower that has been blocking out the sunlight to Poison Ivy’s cell in Arkham Asylum.

The tower in question has a giant gold T on it. Even in 2004, it was all Donald Trump's fault.
Ivy is tending to her window sill garden in Arkham where she's created a plant that absorbs sunlight, and then gives it off later, freeing Gotham from the electrical grid. No need for electricity. No more polluting power companies. My fungus plant will create enough light for everyone!.
Then it all goes dark, because Trump Tilbern Tower blocks out the light.

Those eyes are pretty great, and the storytelling in them is quality. There's a page in Bendis's Daredevil that does the same trick, showing the same scene but with the light significantly different across both panels..

However, in the dark of her cell, Ivy realises that her new plant does work and give off light.

Ivy, wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask, sees her Therapist, Doctor Wood. He gives her pills to manage her condition, but she spits them into her chair when he isn't looking. He's...pretty creepy, and makes a big song and dance about how part of her therapy is that nobody calls her Poison Ivy. However, his objection seems to be just to the Poison part, as he only refers to her as Ivy. In fact, I'm pretty sure that she's never called Pamela once in this. He and Ivy discuss her poison lips, and Ivy tells him that any man who loves her must be insane, or have a death wish.

At that, we cut to Batman, chasing a billionaire art collector who smashed his life up in the last few hours. Told his wife he hated her, gave all of his investments to bird protection charities and destroyed his art collection. He then jumps off a building but doesn't die, thanks to Batman.
Batman takes the billionaire to Arkham, where Doctor Wood gives him the tour.

That's a beautiful page.

Ivy is mentally healthy (or as mentally healthy as a Nocenti character can be) and also a genius. Good to know.

Batman takes the patient to Gotham Hospital where they discover that there is a toxin inside him. There are other victims, including a man who worked in the mailroom (windowless dungeon) of a skyscraper. The mailman also destroyed his life, burning the mailroom because he wasn't allowed any light, before throwing stones at his boss's window. His boss, high flying financier, has also been brought in to hospital complaining of the same problems.

To avoid Gotham becoming a city of death, Batman needs an antidote. What he needs...

I really don't understand why he'd put her in flesh make up so she can seem normal, but let her wear her leafy bathing suit. I'm hoping that it's a mix up between writer and artist.

Thankfully, somebody at the hospital tells her that lab coats are needed for science.
There is screaming from elsewhere in the hospital, and Batman rushes to find flowers growing from the Mailman's corpse. He also finds that in the commotion, Ivy kissed all of the infected patients and They went into this most peaceful of sleeps, and a second later, they all they woke up cured. Batman takes a sample from a patient and retreats to the batcave.

There, he finds a flower posted to Bruce Wayne, thanking him for investing in Trimble Tower. The art on the letter also shows that it is from Donald Trimbel. Not Dan Trimbel, as page 1 said (go back up and check). I sense the hand of an editor in the script, but not the art.

Batman sneezes, before coming to a terrible conclusion...

Those keys are for the weapons cabinet. Batman instructs Alfred
Now listen.
I will go insane.
Destroy my life.
And die.
Unless I find and kiss Poison Ivy.
If I fail to find and kiss those poison lips...
...I will drag my deranged, dying carcass back to the cave, you will open that cabinet, find something lethal
and kill me with it.

Om nom nom, delicious scenery.

Batman chases Ivy to the Trimbel tower, where she has Trimble tied up with her vines.

Ivy and Batman fight, where Ivy says that Doctor Wood is the one who sent the flowers out, because he wanted Ivy. Ivy sort of went along with it because I did it for all of us. For everyone in grey office cubicles and dark apartments and black prison cells. For everyone who has no light.

Batman goes to punch Ivy, but they kiss instead.

He falls, but rescues himself, and rescues Ivy as Trimbel tower collapses.

Ivy makes the decent point that You know, the thing about you heroes...there's an oblivious side to your prowess, and you're blind to it. You're so busy being big shots, you never look back and see the big fat shadows you spill behind you.

It is back to Arkham for Ivy, but not for long.

I like this story, because it's beautiful, and it has something to say, but Nocenti is quite overblown with what she does and how she does it that some things get lost a bit in the shuffle.

Date: 2017-07-11 02:44 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (ShockedMags)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
Ivy laments that she "can never kiss a man".

Even if this is before her lesbianism was overtly asserted in the comics, Ivy has always been disdainful of men for the ease with which they can be manipulated, often just by her beauty. I find the notion that she feels incomplete without a physical relationship with a man to be troubling.

She might have said it in order to be manipulative (certainly par for the course, with Ivy), but she had been relatively straight forward with him the rest of the time, so why tell -that- lie, of all lies to tell?

Date: 2017-07-11 03:04 pm (UTC)
chalicother: Chalicothere (Default)
From: [personal profile] chalicother
Apart from Harley are there any other woman that Ivy has been with ? I thought she was bisexual?

Date: 2017-07-11 03:38 pm (UTC)
indy2012: (Default)
From: [personal profile] indy2012
At this point, and unless I missed a story somewhere, Ivy has never come out with an official label for her sexuality. She has never been classified as a lesbian or as a bisexual or as a heterosexual, and doesn't have to fit comfortably into any of these categories. Harley seems to be the only woman that Ivy has been romantically linked with, but also the healthiest relationship she has ever been in. She has mentioned attraction in numerous comics for members of the opposite sex, most notably Batman/Bruce, that shouldn't be discounted just for the sake of fitting the narrative that she only has eyes for Harley.

I've seen many a comic reader equate her "man-hating" to mean that she is a lesbian or has no sexual attraction towards men, and I have always found this to play into a destructive stereotype about women who are attracted to other women. Her hatred of men seems to canonically spring from youth-related trauma/betrayal that has been included in most of her origin stories, including the Nu52 as well as post and pre-crisis (and even in B:TAS if you read the show's writer's Bible). I've worked with many individuals who express resentment and hatred towards men for past traumatic events, but this doesn't really inform what they identify their sexuality as.
Edited Date: 2017-07-11 04:13 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-07-11 04:02 pm (UTC)
commodus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] commodus
Building a gigantic tower right in front of Ivy's cell is certainly one of the most inventive forms of suicide I've ever heard of.

Date: 2017-07-11 04:03 pm (UTC)
indy2012: (Default)
From: [personal profile] indy2012
Aside from occasional awkward dialogue and missteps in the art, this is my favorite Ivy story. A review of it that came out soon after the book's release that I cannot seem to locate now summed it beautifully. It gives us a lovely hybridized Ivy that takes elements from her various disparate portrayals over the years and synthesizes them into a multi-faceted, damaged, adult woman who feels like she actually has a soul.

She has her control over plants, her powers of seduction, genius-level intellect, manipulative nature, pathos, and a hint of the vampiness found in her B:TAS portrayal. I find influences from all of the writers who have done the most to develop her, including Paul Dini, Greg Rucka, Alan Moore, and John Francis Moore.

Ivy works best when she is not a full villain, but rather a more neutral and potentially deadly and powerful force that could do so much good, but doesn't out of either aloofness or because of her emotional baggage. In the end, I can't help feeling empathy for this woman who is so certain of who she is and has such incredible abilities and talent hampered by having a genuine mental illness.
Edited Date: 2017-07-11 04:12 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-07-11 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
Well said!

(Though I feel compelled to note the more famous Moore never wrote her; you're probably thinking of his protege, Neil Gaiman.)

Date: 2017-07-11 11:47 pm (UTC)
indy2012: (Default)
From: [personal profile] indy2012
Whoops! You are right. Gaiman was the initial one who really worked to elevate Ivy to an A-list Batman villain along with the B:TAS team.

Date: 2017-07-11 10:30 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (trees and flowers 1)
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
There are times I can't help but root for Ivy. Her love of plants and trees, her inventions that truly would make the world better...I wonder if Bruce invested in those inventions, if Ivy could get better? Her beloved plants would be less threatened.

I do like Bruce giving her light in Arkham. Gotham's better off without that ugly tower, too.

Date: 2017-07-12 09:39 am (UTC)
leoboiko: manga-style picture of a female-identified person with long hair, face not drawn, putting on a Japanese fox-spirit max (Default)
From: [personal profile] leoboiko
With multiple distinct ecological crises looming in the horizon, these days I'm finding it harder and harder not to sympathize with radicals like Ivy rather than status-quo-maintainers like Batman…

Date: 2017-07-12 12:46 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (yellow roses)
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
So true!


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