Review by Ian Keogh
Poison Ivy is going straight, Batman’s former foe putting her ecological agenda to one side in preference for research and a nine to five job at the Gotham Botanical Gardens. Yeah, right. That’s part of the plan, but as she notes, working there permits her access to research gene splicing theory and technology far in advance of what’s common knowledge, and she has a few ideas…
Amy Chu has her own interesting idea at the core of this character exploration. As this is one of DC’s ‘New 52’ titles there’s some leeway to depart from Poison Ivy as previously presented. So, while she still knows Harley Quinn and Catwoman, both of whom drop by for an episode or two, Ivy’s motivations are life-affirming in a new direction.
Over recent years there’s been a tendency to draw Poison Ivy as if by Mucha, enveloped by plants, and lead artist Clay Mann (sample art), who draws almost half the book, steps away from that while still providing an ornate decorative style. It’s layouts at times owing more to classic children’s book illustration, with an application of standard superhero gloss, but midway through a chapter he’s abruptly replaced by Stephen Segovia who suddenly increases Ivy’s measurements to Wonder Woman proportions and tightens her vest. Subtle it isn’t. From there we work our way through Robson Rocha, Julio Ferrera, Ethan Van Sciver, Al Barrinuevo and Cliff Richards. Some are better than others, but the effect is of too many cooks spoiling the broth, with a lack of consistency. If Mann couldn’t meet the monthly deadlines as originally imposed, why not have a single artist complete the remainder. Is the schedule for the serialised comics really that important when it’s the collections and digital packages that now make more money?
There are some interesting ethical elements to Chu’s plots, but they’re never really explored. Cycle of Life and Death features others related to Ivy, but they’re eventually wasted, and while a future is hinted at, they’ve not been seen since. The big villain behind everything is hardly original, and rather than Ivy being able to cope with them, it takes a previously unseen guest star to dash in and save the day, which is a retrograde step. The best aspects are Ivy’s interaction with her old colleagues, which provide an easygoing friendship. In the end Cycle of Life and Death has its moments, but is very inconsistent and there’s zero excuse for the platoon of artists involved.