Poison Ivy is back to being Doctor Pamela Isley and teaching the kids of Gotham Academy about plants. Nothing is that simple though and Isley has a run-in with an old friend: Harley Quinn.
Finally, we get a Poison Ivy story that develops the character and leads the reader down the most obvious road, which creative teams tend to miss out on. Pamela Isley is a doctor, a botanist. While many incarnations of this character have her either as a buddy to Harley Quinn or a Batman villain who uses her sexuality to get one over on the Caped Crusader, CIRCLE OF LIFE AND DEATH goes back to the characters roots, pun completely intended. Dr. Isley is an intelligent character who is passionate, to the point of obsession, with plant life. On top of that, because she's this bizarre hybrid of plant and animal life, there's this air of supremacy about her that I found very enjoyable. Writer Amy Chu has a better handle on this character than most people have had in years.
On the downside and more of a personal thing than anything else, I'm just not a fan of Harley Quinn. That being said, the story between these two characters works pretty well and we see them almost part ways because Isley seems to have changed or rather her focus has. I'm sure these two will cross paths again since this story, at its core, is really a murder mystery and Isley may need some help solving the case.
Artist Clay Mann, inker Seth Mann, and colorist Ulises Arreola take on art duties in this issue and they put out some phenomenal work. The art has a great sense of flow and for the most part, this team fills up the pages with details. However, there was one page in particular where the backgrounds were nonexistent, and while a panel or two with no backgrounds, here and there, really highlights the characters, this whole page felt like it was missing something, like the characters were floating around in the ether. Regardless, the rest of the book has some amazing art.
Poison Ivy isn't one of those characters I'm "gaga" over nor am I a fanboy in any way, but this opening offering of POISON IVY: CIRCLE OF LIFE AND DEATH was a tremendously wonderful start. Chu, Mann, Mann, and Arreola are redefining Ivy, which seems to be a bit more caught up in the wacky adventures of Harley Quinn, even though Ivy is a great character on her own. We get to see a lot of depth here as well as an intriguing story. I was truly surprised with how much I enjoyed this.