Poison Ivy (Pamela Lillian Isley) is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillain who is primarily an enemy of Batman. Created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, she first appeared in Batman #181 in (June 1966).
In the series Gotham Girls, Poison Ivy deems herself as one of "the world's most prominent eco-terrorists." She is obsessed with plants, botany and environmentalism. She utilizes toxins from plants and her own bloodstream for her criminal activities, which are usually aimed at protecting the natural environment. She creates love potions that ensnare Batman, Superman, and other strong-willed individuals. Fellow villain Harley Quinn is her recurring partner-in-crime, girlfriend (and wife in some universes) and possibly her only human friend.
- 1 Fictional character history
- 2 Sexuality
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Creations
- 5 Physical appearance
- 6 Poison Ivy in other media
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
Fictional character history
Poison Ivy did not initially catch on as a character, and was not heard of again until the rise of feminism brought the need for a greater number of more independent female villains in the series. She was also used to replace the increasingly sympathetic Catwoman as a clearly antagonistic female supervillain for Batman, and then made further appearances in the Batman comic book series and in Suicide Squad. An origin story was later concocted for her.
The character was partly inspired by the short story Rappaccini's Daughter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Similarities exist between the character Beatrice and Ivy, such as Beatrice is a woman imbued with poison through her father's experiments:
|“||"I would fain have been loved, not feared," murmured Beatrice, sinking down upon the ground.--"But now it matters not; I am going, father, where the evil, which thou hast striven to mingle with my being, will pass away like a dream--like the fragrance of these poisonous flowers, which will no longer taint my breath among the flowers of Eden. Farewell, Giovanni! Thy words of hatred are like lead within my heart--but they, too, will fall away as I ascend. Oh, was there not, from the first, more poison in thy nature than in mine?"||”|
Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, a promising botanist from Seattle, is seduced by Marc LeGrande into assisting him with the theft of an Egyptian artifact containing ancient herbs. Fearing she would implicate him in the theft, he attempts to poison her with the herbs, which are deadly and untraceable. She survives this murder attempt and discovers she had acquired an immunity to all natural toxins and diseases.
Post-Crisis: Life in Seattle and Gotham
Post-Crisis, her origins were revised. Pamela Isley grows up wealthy with emotionally distant parents. She later studies advanced botanical biochemistry at university with Alec Holland under Dr. Jason Woodrue. Isley, a timid, shrinking violet, is easily seduced by her professor. Woodrue injects Isley with poisons and toxins as an experiment, causing her transformation. She nearly dies twice as a result from these poisonings, driving her insane. The testing also makes her infertile, and she treats her plants as children, mothering them ever since. Woodrue flees the authorities, leaving Pamela in the hospital for six months. Enraged at the betrayal, Pamela suffers from violent mood swings, being sweet one moment and like poison the next. After her boyfriend has a car accident after mysteriously suffering from a massive fungal overgrowth, Isley drops out of school and leaves Seattle, eventually setting roots down in Gotham City.
She begins her criminal career by threatening to release her suffocating spores into the air unless the city met her demands. The Batman, who appears in Gotham that very same year, thwarts her scheme, and she is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. From this point on, she would have a kind of obsession with Batman, being the only person she could not control. Over the years, she develops plant-like superpowers, the most noticeable being a lethal toxin in her lips; she is able to literally kill with a kiss.
In subsequent issues, she states that she only started a life of crime to attain sufficient funds to find a location to be alone with her plants, undisturbed by humanity. A few years later, she attempts to leave Gotham forever, escaping Arkham to settle on a desert island in the Caribbean. She transforms the barren wasteland into a second Eden, and is, for the first time in her life, happy. It is soon firebombed, however, when an American-owned corporation tests their weapons systems out on what they think is an abandoned island. Ivy returns to Gotham with a vengeance, punishing those responsible. After being willingly apprehended by Batman, she resolves that she can never leave Gotham, at least not until the world was safe for plants. From then on, she dedicates herself to the impossible mission of "purifying" Gotham.
At one point, Batman travels to Seattle to ascertain information on Pamela Isley's life before she became Poison Ivy. Here, it is stated that both of Pamela's parents are dead. When and why they died has been left undetermined.
While in Arkham, Poison Ivy receives a message through flowers that someone is to help her escape. That night, two women, Holly and Eva, successfully break Ivy out and bring her back to their employer. She is less than happy to discover that it is the Floronic Man, formerly known as Dr. Jason Woodrue, her former college professor that conducted the experiments on her. The only human portion of him remaining is his head, while the rest of his body is plant-based.
After striking a deal with him in the underground tunnels of Gotham, Ivy receives a trunk full of money in return for samples of her DNA. Woodrue intends to combine their DNA to create a "child", all while flooding the streets of Gotham with high-powered marijuana. The purpose of this is to create a world economy run on hemp and to have their offspring control it. Batman intervenes, but is overcome by Woodrue's henchwomen, Holly and Eva. However, Ivy turns on Floronic Man and lets Batman go to fight the intoxicated maniac. In the end, Batman decapitates the Floronic Man, and Ivy escapes with her money.
At times, Ivy demonstrates positive, even maternal traits. When Gotham City is destroyed in an earthquake, rather than fight over territory like most of Batman's enemies, she holds dominion over Robinson Park and turns it into a tropical paradise. Sixteen children who are orphaned during the quake come to live with her, as she sympathizes with them, having herself suffered a traumatic childhood. She cares for them like sons and daughters, despite her usual misanthropy.
That winter, Clayface (Basil Karlo) pays Ivy a visit, hoping to form a bargain with her. This would entail her growing fruits and vegetables, having the orphans harvest them, and him selling the produce to the highest bidder. She wants nothing to do with the plan, and she attempts to kill him with a kiss. Clayface overpowers her, however, and imprisons Ivy and the orphans for six months in a chamber under the park's lake. He feeds her salt and keeps her from the sun to weaken her. Eventually, Batman comes and discovers the imprisoned orphans and Ivy. The two agree to work together to take Karlo down. Batman battles Clayface and instructs Robin to blow up the lake bed above, allowing the rushing water to break apart the mud, effectively freeing Ivy. She fights Karlo, ensnaring him in the branches of a tree and fatally kissing him. She then proceeds to sink him down into the ground, where he becomes fertilizer for Ivy's plants. Batman, originally intending to take the orphans away from Ivy, recognizes that staying with her is what is best for them, and they remain in her care until the city is restored. Also, as part of a bargain to keep her freedom, Batman arranges it so that Ivy provides fresh produce to the starving hordes of earthquake survivors. Soon after, Ivy finds Harley Quinn, who had almost been murdered by the Joker, among the debris of the earthquake and nurses her back to health. The two have been best friends, lovers and partners-in-crime ever since.
After Gotham City is reopened to the public, the city council wants to evict her from the park and send her back to Arkham Asylum, as they are uncomfortable with the thought of a "psychotic eco-terrorist controlling the equivalent of 30-odd square blocks". They also mistakenly believe that the orphans in Ivy's care are hostages. The Gotham City Police Department threaten to spray the park with R.C. Sixty, a powerful herbicide that most certainly would have killed every living plant in the park, including Ivy, and more than likely do harm to the children. Ivy refuses to leave the park to the city and let them destroy the paradise she had created, so she chooses martyrdom. It is only after Rose, one of the orphans, is accidentally poisoned by Ivy that the hardened eco-terrorist surrenders herself to the authorities in order to save the girl's life. Batman says that, as much as she would hate to admit it, Ivy is still more human than plant.
Later on, she is manipulated with other Gotham characters by the Riddler in the Hush storyline, in which she hypnotizes both Superman and Catwoman; however, she abandons Catwoman to be killed by Killer Croc, and Batman is able to keep Superman busy in a fight long enough for the Man of Steel to break out of the spell. Soon afterwards, the Riddler, who is being chased and attacked by the masked criminal Hush, approaches Ivy and seeks her protection. The short tale between Ivy and Riddler would play out as a back story in Detective Comics #797-799. In this arc, Ivy, who is angered by the manipulation, battles the Riddler physically and psychologically. She comes to physically dominate her opponent, humiliating Riddler and temporarily breaking his spirit.
Poison Ivy comes to believe that her powers are killing the children she had looked after, so she seeks Bruce Wayne's help to reverse her powers and make her a normal human being once more. Soon after, she is convinced by Hush to take another serum to restore her powers and apparently dies in the process. However, when her grave is visited shortly thereafter, it is covered with ivy, creating the impression her death would be short-lived.
A short time later Poison Ivy appears in Gotham Central #32, killing two corrupt cops who killed one of her orphans. Though whether this takes place before or after the aforementioned storyline is unknown.
"One Year Later", Ivy is alive and active. Her control over flora has increased, referred to as being on a par with Swamp Thing or Floronic Man. She also appears to have resumed her crusade against the corporate enemies of the environment with a new fanaticism, regarding Batman no longer as a main opponent, but as a 'hindrance'.
Detective Comics #823 reveals that Ivy has been feeding people including "tiresome lovers", "incompetent henchmen", and those who "returned her smile" to a giant plant which would digest the victims slowly and painfully. She refers to it as a "guilty pleasure". In an unprecedented event, her victims' souls merge with the plant, creating a botanical monster called Harvest, who seeks revenge upon Ivy. With the intervention of Batman, however, she is saved. Ivy is left in critical condition, and the whereabouts of Harvest are unknown. Template:Endspoilers
Teams and alliances
- Poison Ivy is a member of the original Injustice Gang of the World, which fights the Justice League on several occasions.
- She joins the Secret Society of Super-Villains for a mission against the Justice League.
- She is coerced into being a member of the Suicide Squad. During this time, she uses her abilities to enslave Count Vertigo.
- She is friends with the Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn. Unlike most villain team-ups, their partnership seems to be genuinely rooted in friendship and even love, and Ivy sincerely wants to save Harley from her abusive relationship with the Joker. Ivy sympathizes with Harley, as Harley is mistreated by the man she loves, just as Ivy was by Jason Woodrue. She has expressed disdain for the Joker, primarily due to his treatment of Harley.
- Despite having different motivations than the rest of Batman's rogues gallery, Ivy is not above forming alliances with the other villains if it suits her goals, most notably in Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, and Batman: Hush.
Poison Ivy's sexuality had not been confirmed in any media until recent, fans had been speculating her as either bisexual, lesbian etc. She was recently confirmed as a bisexual by Tee Franklin, writer of The Eat, Bang, Kill Tour comics, spin off comics of the Harley Quinn animated show, via her official Twitter.
In the Harley Quinn animated show, Ivy develops a romantic relationship with Kite Man. During this relationship, she grows closer to Harley and falls in love with her, though Ivy doesn't trust Harley with her heart and carries on with her wedding with Kite Man. He ultimately calls off the wedding when he realises that Ivy doesn't trully want to marry him.
- Pheromone Control(Post-Crisis only): Ivy is known to be able to seduce men and women alike, often using pheromones to do so, but even without the pheromones, her beauty is still an asset that can she can use to seduce. This method is somewhat similar to Bee’s in the real world. Though, as a gay woman, she tends to only pursue further relationships with the women she seduces.
- Poison Ivy has shown some signs of Object sexuality or objectophilia as well as her love as a plantswoman caring more for Plant Life and if someone were to dare hurt it showing so much compassion and being so sincere and sympathetic towards it as if it had a life of its own.
- In Batman #608, Ivy states to Catwoman, "No man or woman can resist me."
- In Superman/Batman #19, she forces a kiss on Supergirl (her first on-panel kiss with another woman). However, this is to determine whether Supergirl is susceptible to Ivy's poisons as Superman had been.
- Her relationship with Harley Quinn has frequently been used as a point of reference to support both her lesbianism and her bisexuality, due in part to the pinups Bruce Timm drew of the two characters hugging, the visual innuendos in the Batman: the Animated Series episode "Harley and Ivy", and the Batgirl one-shot by Paul Dini in which Barbara Gordon asks Harley about the "close friendship" that she and Ivy share (to which Harley sarcastically responds that people say the same rumors about Batgirl and Supergirl). In the Harley and Ivy miniseries, written and drawn by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the two appear to be sleeping in the same bed.
- In more recent years her relationship with Harley Quinn has been shown to be more openly romantic, from them refering to each other as "girlfriend" and various petnames, getting married and very clearly having sex in one pannel in the comics, it's clear that these two are more than just "friends". In Harley Quinn's animated show the two are romantically intimate on screen and ultimately get together in the final episode of season 2. It explores Harley and Ivy's bisexuality.
Powers and abilities
The dangerous experiments placed a deliberate overdose of plant and animal based toxins into her blood stream that make her touch deadly and allowed her to boost her immunity to all poisons, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This immunity also includes Joker venom. Some comics have even gone so far as to depict her as more plant than human, breathing CO2 and requiring sunlight to survive.
Ivy is known to be able to seduce men and women alike, often using pheromones to do so; she was once even able to use these to control Superman, although she required kryptonite for them to work.
She specializes in hybrids and can create the most potently powerful toxins in Gotham City. Often these are secreted from her lips and administered via a kiss. They come in a number of varieties, from mind controlling drugs to instantly fatal necrotics. Her skin is toxic as well, although contact with it is usually not fatal.
In some adaptations she can control plants with her mind. For example, in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell she was able to manipulate and animate plants, using roots to form supports for a tunnel she and another inmate named Magpie were digging to escape, and also spawning glowing fungi to entertain Magpie.
Appearing in Gotham the same year as Batman, her aforementioned control of plants increases significantly with each passing year. Before, just being able to manipulate plants such as vines, she has since become stronger. In Greg Rucka's Fruit of the Earth storyline, she controls an entire tree to come down on Clayface, ensnaring him in its branches. More recently, in Batman & Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows, she can be seen bringing down a whole skyscraper with giant vines. Her increased strength has only recently been brought to everyone's attention one year later in Face the Face.
She has been known to carry a cross-bow and a vine whip which she also has used as a lasso. At times, the vine has had thorns on it. She also occasionally uses hand thrown and blowpipe launched poisoned darts.
Poison Ivy's athletic abilities have grown over the course of her career. She has learned a limited style of martial arts fighting, is proficient at climbing and leaping, and is a strong and fast swimmer.
In Batman: The Animated Series, her only physical power is an immunity to poison, and when using a poisoned kiss, she uses lipstick poisoned by toxins extracted from a plant. She admits to having a "hyperactive immune system" which prevents her from having children. In The Batman, she can even exhale mind-controlling spores in the form of a blown kiss.
Poison Ivy has been identified by the Swamp Thing as a being with an elemental mystical component, who he called the 'May Queen'. Writers have not referred to her in this way in quite some time.
Poison Ivy created several plant-creatures over the years, often used as bodyguards or to carry out her crimes:
- Feraks: Feraks first appear during No Man's Land. The female-looking plant people show up in several issues and were last seen when Ivy and the orphans are leaving Robinson Park after No Man's Land. Their appearances have varied, but the basic structure of a ferak shows an almost Amazon-like build with large poisonous thorns jutting through, or growing from, its skin.
- Harvest: Harvest first appeared in Detective Comics #823. During the "One Year Later" storyline, Ivy has been feeding people to a giant plant. Later, their souls merge with the giant plant, creating a plant creature even Ivy cannot control. After a battle with Batman and Robin, who are trying to save Ivy from the revenge of this monster, Harvest disappears.
- Green Ghosts: Zombie-like plant monsters created by Ivy.
Along with these monsters, Ivy also uses her spores to create henchmen in the form of Dead-Fellows, men who are fatally infected and hypnotized into doing Poison Ivy's bidding, which, at the time, was to kill Batman during the Knightfall storyline.
- With great skill in genetic splicing, Ivy creates plants that could be used for the good of mankind. In Batman & Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows, she makes a plant that manufactures light (with the intention of putting an end to polluting power plants), vines that are stronger than steel, and plants that exude aloes. However, these creations are part of her rehabilitation at Arkham Asylum. She soon snaps again and withholds these miraculous plants from humanity.
- Ivy has been known to manufacture chemicals for all uses, poisons and antidotes alike. She just chooses to utilize the poisons. She even concocts a fast-acting antidote for Joker venom. In Harley Quinn #13, Harley asks Ivy why she did not save people under the venom's influence (considering Ivy's hatred for the Joker), to which Ivy replies, "I don't do that, Harley. I don't save people. I'm poison, remember?"
- She is mentioned in the non-continuity Batman - Black & White: Vol. 2 as to being capable of manufacturing fear toxins on par with those of the Scarecrow, and to have been bribed to produce them against him.
Being a character that utilizes aesthetics to her best advantage, Poison Ivy has no shortage of different looks, ranging from variations of how she looked in her first appearance with tights and flesh tone to a naked goddess-like persona.
Her skin tone varies frequently. It has been mentioned that her blood contains chlorophyll which, being a pigment, would theoretically cause her to have green skin. However, most portrayals of her, particularly earlier ones, depicted her with either ordinary tan, snow-white alabaster, or off-white skin.
In recent years, DC Comics has depicted Ivy with green skin in some comics, although these are an exception to the norm. An explanation for this storyline was offered in Catwoman v.1 #57, where a chemical formula of Ivy's falls onto her skin and causes the pigmentation change.
Ivy is a manipulative, red-haired seductress. At her first appearance, her costume is a one-piece, strapless green bathing suit, covered with leaves. Leaves also form her bracelets, necklace and crown. She wears green high heels and yellow-green nylon stockings with leaves painted on them. These particulars changed somewhat when she re-appeared. She keeps variations of this look from the 60s to the early 90s. It was not until No Man's Land that the character undergoes a significant physical change, ridding herself of the nylon stockings and high heels. During this time, she is depicted as freely walking around naked.
Artists such as Jim Lee draw her in a green form-fitting one-piece bathing suit. Other times she is seen in minimal attire composed of leaves that always follows a bathing suit pattern. She is no longer drawn as having tights or high heels, and is often depicted barefoot. When she is not, she is wearing "elf-shoes".
Poison Ivy in other media
Poison Ivy never made any appearances in other media prior to her debut in the fifth episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Pretty Poison, in 1992. The series popularized the character to the point of being featured as a main villain in the live action Batman and Robin in 1997, a treatment that seemingly only "classic" villains such as the Joker or the Penguin received.
Batman & Robin (1997 film)
Uma Thurman played Poison Ivy in the film Batman and Robin. This incarnation, boasting over-the-top acting, strange costumes and even stranger hair styles, is largely considered the worst version of the character, a sentiment in line with the over-all derision poured upon the film from fans and critics alike. This Isley is transformed when she is presumably murdered by her mad scientist boss, Jason Woodrue, and soon falls in love with Mr. Freeze, leading to a partnership to destroy Gotham City. Ivy is depicted in the film using her powers (toxic kisses and pheromones) liberally, as well as using Bane, in this version similarly transformed by Woodrue as well, as her sidekick. She is defeated by Batgirl, incarcerated and presumably frozen by Mr. Freeze as he saw that she betrayed him by nearly killing his near-dead wife, blaming Batman for the incidence instead.
DC Animated Universe
In the DC animated universe, Poison Ivy was voice-acted by Diane Pershing. The initial character design for Poison Ivy in Batman: The Animated Series was provided by artist Lynne Naylor, who also helped design nearly all of the other female characters for the show. She drew Ivy to look distinctly different from the rest of the female characters, giving her a softer, cherub-shaped face.
Batman: The Animated Series
Her first appearance, in Batman: The Animated Series, involved an assassination attempt on Harvey Dent, as retribution for construction over the last habitat of a rare flower. In the earlier days of the Animated series, her meta-human characteristics, such as her immunity to toxins, were stated on many occasions, portraying her as a human with an extreme affinity for plants. She mentions in "House and Garden", in which she ostensibly reforms, that her unique condition has left her unable to bear children. This episode was her final appearance in the first series.
The New Batman Adventures and other DC animated appearances
In the second series, she was aesthetically revamped to look more plant-like, her skin turning grayish-white. Ivy also became more humorous and seductive in personality, coinciding with her genuinely sympathetic relationship with Harley Quinn. Her fanatical mindset regarding the despoiling of plants and the ecosphere was also greatly reduced. She supposedly dies in a shipwreck in the episode "Chemistry". She apparently survives the shipwreck and returns in several spin-off series, including "Static Shock," and the Gotham Girls web-toon, in which she held co-starring role. The character also co-starred in the three-issue comic book miniseries Harley and Ivy, and was given her swan song in the critically acclaimed "Batman Adventures" comic book series, which contains stories about Batman's adventures in Gotham City after a break from the Justice League. In the Justice League series, she appears only once, in a lobotomized form in an alternate universe. Bruce Timm stated that he turned down pitches for Poison Ivy episodes on Justice League so they could focus on new characters and storylines, only bringing back a minimal amount of villains from previous shows .
Piera Coppola currently voices Poison Ivy in the animated TV show, The Batman, complete with a new origin with stronger ties to Barbara Gordon. In this Gotham, Poison Ivy is a young environmental activist, and Barbara Gordon's friend. She convinces Barbara to help her with her "protests," which were actually scouting missions on pollutionary companies for her hired mercenary, the corporate saboteur Temblor. In an attack on one such company, a plant mutagen falls on her during a battle between Temblor and the Batman. She awakes in an ambulance afterward and manifests powers similar to her other incarnations, most notably psionic plant control, and an ability to exhale mind-controlling spores when she blows a kiss at her desired target. She swiftly turns her powers to furthering her ecoterrorist career, before being stopped by Batman and Barbara in her debut as Batgirl.
Poison Ivy has appeared in most of the Batman video games over the years. She appeared as a boss in Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Super NES, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega CD, Batman: Chaos in Gotham, the video game adaptation of the movie Batman & Robin, Batman: Vengeance and Batman: Dark Tomorrow. In most of these games Ivy does not fight Batman directly and usually watches in the background while Batman fights one of her plant monsters. In The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega CD and Batman: Vengeance, Diane Pershing reprised her role from Batman: The Animated Series.
- Batman: The Complete History
- World's Finest Comics #252
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat 1995 Annual #3
- Batman: Poison Ivy
- Legends of the Dark Knight #43
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #56-58
- Secret Files 1998
- Fruit of the Earth
- Batman: Harley Quinn
- Detective Comics #751-752
- Harley Quinn #13
- Batman Adventures #16
- Batman: The Long Halloween
- Black Orchid Vol. II, 1988
- Batman #367
- Batgirl #52
- Batman: Hush
- Harley Quinn Series
- Batman Animated
- DCDP: Poison Ivy - DC Database Project
- Poison Ivy information site
- Fan site of Poison Ivy
- Gallery of comic-book appearances
- Women of Gotham Biography: Poison Ivy
-  Ivy (Prime Earth) on the LGBTQIA Characters Wiki
-  Ivy (Harley Quinn Show) on the LGBTQIA Characters Wiki
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