Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #2 Review and *SPOILERS*

Beware of Dogs. And Plants.

Written By: Amy Chu
Art By: Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Jonathan Glapion and Art Thibert, Ulises Arreola
Letters By: Janice Chiang
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: February 17, 2016

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Man, wherever Poison Ivy goes, trouble seems to follow. She tries to save the environment by taking down polluters, and she gets sent to an insane asylum. She takes a job at Gotham City Botanical Gardens, and her mentor dies of poisoning. She poisons some guy that pisses her off, and he gets poisoned. Okay, maybe that was all her fault. Point is, she leads a complicated life, and it’s made even more complex by her own weird narcissism and set of ethics. All she wants to do is create animal-plant hybrid monsters, is that so wrong? The Saga of Miss Swamp Thang continues in issue #2 of Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death, and I reviewed it, and you can read on to confirm the existence of that review!

Explain It!:

Down at the Botanical Gardens, the Gotham City Police have cordoned off the scene while detectives ask staff about the untimely death of Dr. Luisa Cruz. No one is thinking homicide, however, because they know she worked with the very toxic Yew tree. Pamela “Poison Ivy” Isley notes to herself that their shared research has been stolen—I think it must have been that Living Fossil plant that they were using to study life extension. That’s okay, though: Isley’s got three more back at her apartment. Administrator Victor Lee and Dr. Eric Grimley, Chairman of the research department are speaking anxiously with with a cherubic-looking detective, they’re very interested in keeping this accident out of the news. We learn the last guy to see her alive was Daharn Bapta, who looks to be an intern with a purple streak and a lot of product in his hair—he has nothing special to report. Dr. Isley doesn’t believe this was an accident, but when the fleshy detective asks her if anything was stolen, Victor steps in and stops his questioning before she can answer. What is Victor trying to hide?

The detective asks Pamela what she was up to yesterday, and she can’t really explain that she was beating the snot out of some bikers with Harley Quinn. Luckily, a creepy colleague named Winston pops up and says they were out to a movie, and plus he’s fucking her. This satisfies the police, despite Pamela looking like a four-alarm hottie and Winston looking like the human version of an English sheep dog. Pamela goes back to her spacious and plant-filled apartment to do some research, which appears to be staring at Luisa Cruz’s Facebook profile. She thinks something’s fishy here, and worries that whoever killed Cruz knows that Pamela is actually Poison Ivy—this sort of reverses what I wondered last issue, which was how a convicted killer with the power to manipulate plants got a job at the Botanical Gardens, but I am a little skeptical. No one knows who she is? One would think she’d be pretty famous, particularly in the floral community, but okay—I’ll accept it. The chubby detective, whose name is O’Shea, is at the GCPD looking up Pamela Isley’s Facebook profile, and it seems her record was wiped out. This raises Detective O’Shea’s flabby hackles, but I’ll accept it for the sake of story.

The Botanical Gardens crew decide that a perfect memorial to Dr. Cruz would be to plant a public garden as a form of “urban renewal,” a term at which Dr. Isley scoffs. While pulling weeds and raking used crack vials into neat piles, two vicious pit bulls burst through the gate and attack Pamela and Daharn, so Pamela hyper-grows some plants to restrain the ravenous beasts. Isley goes to speak to the owner, who is an asshole so Pamela kills him by growing a plant into his body through his asshole and out of his mouth. The next day, Pamela confronts Victor about his secrecy—he must knows Cruz didn’t accidentally poison herself. Victor Lee just smiles and reveals he knows she is Poison Ivy, so she’d better fuck off and be quiet if she wants to keep her job. Then there’s a scene with a very awkward flirting attempt by Daharn, who reveals to Pamela that he lied to the cops when he said he was the last to see Dr. Luisa Cruz; instead, he got the call and went down to audition for Gotham’s Got Talent. Then he tells Pamela he can’t kill flies, and somehow this doesn’t increase her interest in him! Women! Go figure.

Pamela goes back to her apartment, where her experimental animal-plant hybrids are ready to hatch, or whatever, and she pulls them out as glistening, greenish babies. Their pods actually look like gigantic, gross oozing roses. I like the way all of these scenes are rendered, when Poison Ivy is tending to her plant babies. And I’m sure she’d like to send announcements to all of her colleagues, but at that very moment Daharn finds Dr. Grimely, out of his wheelchair and surrounded by debris, seemingly dead!

This mystery is expanding at a nice pace, and I am certainly interested to keep reading, but the plotting of this issue is pretty stiff and seems to drag at points. The art is better than average but still a little flat for my tastes, and only shines when the line work expands beyond a fairly typical panel structure and stretches out. This is a good comic book, worth your time, it’s just not shit-shattering. I’ll tell you what, though: I’d rather have six comic books of this caliber than one shit-shattering comic book and five stinkers. And you can take that to the bank!

Bits and Pieces

Things are opening up and more characters are introduced as the mystery of the Botanical Gardens Killer deepens. There’s some good personality development and some nice scenes, but it’s tough to figure out what’s important in this book and what’s just background information. Pamela seems to walk through the world in a daze, not unlike some people I remember from college. Remember these people? Something concrete would happen, like their car would break down, and they’re like, “the universe has determined I don’t need a car, I suppose.” Pamela seems sort of like that, except she has more disdain for humanity. And that makes me like her a lot.


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