The Poison Tomorrow was among DC’s first flush of original superhero graphic novels in standard size, and it’s difficult to see what the selling point might have been beyond shovelling product onto the comic shop shelves and seeing what might stick there.

The art is what first strikes, and that’s by Michael Netzer, who’s drifted in and out of comics over the years, but whose first work was published in the mid-1970s. This being the case, it might be hoped that The Poison Tomorrow would look a lot better. Netzer can produce a passable imitation of Neal Adams’ graphic style, but lacks Adams’ eye for what makes a layout sparkle, and this features page after cluttered page, often looking very flat. An early sequence has Batman framed in a doorway, but looking as if it’s a Batman sticker applied to the door. The character Netzer’s most interested in drawing is Poison Ivy, seductive in risque lingerie. Netzer’s lingered over Ivy’s early appearances, and her depiction occupies most of those pages.

Denny O’Neil, here credited as Dennis O’Neil, had redefined Green Arrow’s character in the 1970s (ironically, with Adams), as headstrong and socially minded. His motivation here is to track down Poison Ivy as his girlfriend has been poisoned by a serum she developed. Ivy has specific plans, though, and this sets Batman at odds with his Justice League colleague as he’s more concerned about the bigger picture.

There’s a vague ecological message, but the tale rambles to an overwrought conclusion having long outlived any welcome. It’s telling that with all the Batman reissues over the years and many of these early 1990s graphic novels combined in larger packages, The Poison Tomorrow remains available only in its original form.