Along with launching its Forever Evil seven-issue mini-series event, DC is using the month of September to turn over all of its regular titles to its eclectic gallery of villains, establishing brand new origins in one-shot stories from a variety of writers and artists. Poison Ivy is the focus in Detective Comics #23.1 (alternately titled Poison Ivy #1), and if the success of these villains books results in a regular series for a few select characters, I’d just like to say that I would pluck down the money for a Poison Ivy #2 right now. Although this issue delivers a satisfying origin, this version of Ivy that writer Derek Fridolfs develops is so intriguing that there are more stories needing to be told, and I want to read them.
Set against a post-Trinity War backdrop of a rioting Gotham City, Poison Ivy is stalking the Batman-free streets when she comes across a domestic dispute that triggers memories of her hellish upbringing. By now the abusive father angle has been overused in origin stories, but by drawing parallels between the past and present events, Fridolfs is able to craft a much more compelling tale. Ivy using her plants to choke the man in the domestic dispute is directly tied to the fact that her father used to buy plants for her mother as a way of making up for his abuse, or, as Ivy puts it, manipulating her. When Ivy is attacking some arsonists later in the issue, her threat of, “You’ll be buried…and forgotten” is spoken not about her victims but about her late mother. It’s a wonder Ivy uses plants as her weapons at all given the dark symbolism they have in her life.
Artist Javier Pina handles the rioting, overrun Gotham with harsh, jagged lines while colorist Jon Kalisz uses a color palette of mostly oranges, reds, and yellows, all befitting for a city on fire. Pina and Kalisz’s true gift to this book is in the flashback sequences, where both deliver a much lighter and painterly style. Panels are no longer dictated with borders and the pages themselves take on an entirely different texture, almost parchment-like. These panels are incredibly warm and inviting, a stark contrast to the actions being depicted within them. Just like Pamela Isley herself, Poison Ivy #1 is manipulative, intense, and a treat for the eyes as well.