Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows Review and thoughts.
There is light and then there is darkness and in between shades of gray.
A new skyscraper cast shadows over Pamela Isley's cell in Arkham. Her plants are dying. She is dying. At the same time we havea series of attempted murders of the building's developers and financial elite and Batman comes to investigate the case. Who is responsible?
Ann Nocenti writes a flawless Poison Ivy story. She is not a villain. She is the victim. Above all she is a smart scientist that wants to help the world, not just the plant life. She wants to cure diseases, to stop wars, hunger, hate, bring light to the world. Yes she has done some bad stuff in the past but she really wants to change. She really wants that second chance. The second chance that never comes. Her brilliance is ignored and she is treated as a threat, a lunatic, a danger to society. For Arkham's medical staff, for Batman, (in a metaphorical way for a lot of writers who have written or continue to write bad Poison Ivy stories) she is the villain, the enemy, death, an amalgam of misogynistic tropes. Not for Nocenti.
Without spoiling the story, Ann Nocenti writes the tragic story of a misunderstood woman. Ivy breaks the law because she sees the greater good behind her actions. She does what she does for all of us.
“Everyone in gray office cubicles, dark apartments and prison cells, for everyone who has no light.”
She tries to change but it's not easy. For Ann Nocenti the seduction part is a side effect of her powers. She is not a seductress. Imagine a world where everyone loves you and follows your commands? How can you love? How can you trust anyone? How can you feel? She creates her own world a mix of science and nature and she proves that progress and environmentalism can coexist.
And the huge phallic skyscrapers appear out of nowhere and destroy her and her research. John Van Fleet draws over photographs to create a hazy film noir-ish world with organic properties. Everything looks alive and real with a psychedelic twist.
And we see Batman naked, a paranoid man who also cant trust no-one a victim of himself, a martyr that tries to balance his life behind a mask that hides his emotions. But in the end emotions win. They are both human after all.
This comic book reminded me of Vandana Shiva's ideas of ecofeminism. Like Vandana, Ivy is “an advocate against the prevalent "patriarchal logic of exclusion," claiming that a woman-focused system would change the current system in an extremely positive manner” There is a contrast between the environmental “female” discoveries of Ivy who would help “stop wars and hunger” and the man made metal skyscrapers, symbols of arrogance.
Humanity wins in the end.
Ivy is not Joker, not Freeze, not Penguin, Catwoman or Clayface. Ivy is nothing like them. She's not Ra's with boobs, she's not a monster and she's not a genocidal murdering maniac.
Buy this book, you will not regret it. It's a great lesson in humanity.