For those of us who visit the comic book store (or app!) on the regular, this was a good month. The long awaited Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death debuted on the 20th, in addition to the new six-issue long Wonder Woman series entitled The Legend of Wonder Woman that debuted on the 13th. While I am a solid Wonder Woman fan, I am without a doubt most excited about this Poison Ivy run.
I first became aware that Poison Ivy had never starred in her own self-titled comic book when I started following the PoisonIvyLeague twitter account (@). They have been advocating for Poison Ivy to have a standalone series for awhile using the hashtag #PoisonIvyLeague, and voila! Wish granted by DC — although, seriously, it should probably have happened by now. The PoisonIvyLeague official review is here and I recommend taking a look at it. The writer did a good job of keeping it as spoiler free as possible.
My personal review in five words is: can’t wait for issue 2!
The new Poison Ivy comic book adds a whole new level of personality and relatability to the character. She is a creature torn between humanity and greenery, not quite sure which half tips the balance. She disdains humanity, but remains an emotional being nonetheless, and not just towards her plants. One thing I particularly enjoyed in the comic book is her return to academia and study of botanical biochemistry. Unsurprisingly, her old friend Harley Quinn also makes an appearance and I enjoyed the contrast between the two characters. This first issue passes the Bechdel test, isn’t offensive to me, and shows women in STEM. Moreover, it doesn’t shy away from depicting some of the sexist problems women face in academia.
It’s worth noting here that I would normally call out a comic for sexualizing a woman character (ex. the cover), but in Poison Ivy’s case I don’t see it as a problem. It completely fits her style, which is something I wish more artists would ask themselves before making a decision to draw a woman this way. Poison Ivy is not completely human, and in many ways doesn’t need clothing at all. She isn’t embarrassed by nudity. In other iterations of this character she has flaunted her body as a way of gaining power over others without giving up her own power in the process. In my opinion, this character walks that fine line of being sexual without being objectified. She uses sexuality without falling prey to its pitfalls. Poison Ivy is a villainess operating in a patriarchal society and using all the tools at her disposal to be successful.
When Batman and Robin came out in 1997 I LOVED Poison Ivy. That was my first introduction to her character. I stumbled across her again in the 90’s Batman Animated Series, but Uma Thurman will forever be my favorite version. Playing Batman make-believe with the other neighborhood kids on my cul-de-sac is a fond childhood memory. We even considered making a play to put on for our parents. I typed up a couple paragraphs as a script in Paint program and dear lord do I wish I could find the print out of it somewhere in my boxes of old toys. Plenty of lolz would be had I’m sure.
I’m the oldest, so naturally I played Poison Ivy. My middle brother played Batman, and the youngest brother played Robin. Two of our friends played Mr. Freeze and the Joker, and we all had a complete freakin’ blast. I remember draping my arm *sexily* (aka probably not that sexily, being only 9 and not even knowing what sex was) on the wooden gate entrance to my friend’s backyard and feeling like a BADASS. In my mind, I was Poison Ivy, and she was sexy and powerful. She knew who she was, she knew what she wanted, and she didn’t take crap from anyone. Plus, having the amazing power of controlling plant life is really really cool.
So for my childhood and adult self, Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death is staying on my pull list.
My love of Wonder Woman is a relatively new phenomenon, and I’ve never looked back. I gained an even greater appreciation for her character after reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman last year (a book I HIGHLY recommend). That being said, when a new writer and artist took over the New52 run I quickly removed it from my pull list when it did not live up the expectations set by the first 36 issues. That’s one of the reasons I was so eager to start reading The Legend of Wonder Woman series.
The first issue is a bit slow for me, but it was still enjoyable. We see more into Hippolyta’s background (Diana’s mother) before fast forwarding to a six year old Diana attending class at Themyscira. As most Wonder Woman comics do, it passes the Bechdel test easily and I didn’t find it offensive. Diana is a strong-willed child who isn’t content to sit still in class. Instead she daydreams of picking up the art of war and fighting. This clashes with her mother’s plans for her, and conflict ensues.
If you haven’t read any comic books before this is an easy one to get into. Since it’s only six issues long it isn’t a huge monetary investment either. It doesn’t require any background knowledge of the characters and it gives you a good review of Wonder Woman’s origins to boot. However, know that her origins are interpreted differently by different writers/artists.
If you need something to hold you over until the Wonder Woman movie comes out next year, this can help!
And now for the last AWESOME piece of comic news that came out this week. They are making a new XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS comic that will debut in April! OK, first, I had no idea there were any Xena comics historically, and 2nd: *squee!* You know I’m going to be hunting down the old comics now before the new series comes out! I promise to review them all for you as a totally not selfish public service.
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