Poison Ivy #1 + Ventrioquist #1 (FULL LENGTH BONUS RANT INCLUDED)

Before I get to the reviews. Let me just say, I was incredibly excited for these. I even got the collectible lenticular covers, OMG. Way to earn your nerd cookies, EightBit!

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The day before I picked these suckers up I had just reviewed The Movement #4, and I was all “Holy shit, diversity!”

And then Batwoman’s writers, W. Hayden Blackman and JH Williams III, quit over being told that they could not pursue long standing storylines in the way that they wanted. They felt as if it compromised their work, the story and the character. Among the scrapped story lines was Kate and Maggie’s marriage.

Now, how much this had directly to do with DC refusing to allow Batwoman to get married, and why: is DC opposed to the institute of privileging marriage (I wrote my thesis on that, BTW), or are they anti-gay? It’s easier to latch on to the more inflammatory option. However, not allowing the creative team to… well, create in a way that made Kate Kane a well rounded character is clearly a mistake. DC was willing to Let Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy flirt and have innuendo as a “joke” appealing to straight male fantasy… oooh sexy bad girls are they or aren’t they.  (More on Harley Quinn later.) DC, lesbians are not a joke for straight men to get hot and bothered to. Get your perverted shit together.

And then I was all, “oooh shiny!”

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Review time, comic book fans!

Poison Ivy #1/Batman Detective Comics #23.1

Gotham City is tearing itself apart. A city revealing it’s true nature. It’s return to nature.

There’s no Batman. The Justice League is dead, the Crime Syndicate has taken over.

Amid the chaos and anarchy, Pamela sees a man and woman fighting while their daughter hides. She flashes back to her similar childhood. Her mom used to hide out in the garden with Pam, her dad bought her mom flowers to apologize for beating up on her, thus she learned that flowers could manipulate people.. (this was not previously part of her origin, and frankly I am not a fan). In the middle of these flashbacks, including finding her mother buried in the garden at the hands of her father she finds the Gotham Botanical Gardens being burned down. You know it will end poorly for these suckers.

The story flashes back to her college years, where she seduced the dean. Her First kill, her father. And then her internship at Wayne industries where she seduce’s Bruce Wayne with her pheromone pills.

She pitches the idea of her plant based pills that trigger specially designed behavioral responses which can specifically target the needs of clients. Bruce Wayne fires her. He fires her and keeps the rights to her research so she can never pursue other firms.

It was during the struggle with the guards to get her hard work that she was doused in her formula. (I like this portion of the origin story better than her being dosed by a professor as an experiment).

During all of this, Poison Ivy is walking around followed by awe inspiring plant monsters, and she calls to the plants to take over the concrete. The issue ends with Commissioner Gordon confronting Ivy on the roof of Wayne Enterprises, he points a gun at he and she dives into the jungle she’s created, vowing that her green kingdom will flourish.

Good read, I don’t think that sad sack part with her family was necessary. Academia can drive you crazy enough. The art is great. Poison Ivy was always my favorite. It’s so true, the earth doesn’t need people, the plants will always grow, the earth will reclaim itself.

Ventriloquist #1/Batman the Dark Knight #23.1

Ventriloquist nails traumatic childhood with neglected twin Shauna. Living in her twin brother’s shadow drives her eight shades of crazy. Her brother was a child star while she was bullied and called “Shabby Shauna.” Sudden emergency of telekinetic powers mixed with angst and gallons of jealousy and Shauna throws her bully into the road and gets revenge on her brother, Ferdie. Then she meets a party clown with a ventriloquist dummy. She names him after her “poor dear, homely dead brother” and sets out to find her place in show biz.

With the lights out in Gotham she lights up a theater, entices an audience and starts a show that will stop their hearts. The Crime Alley Cretins try to take over the theater… yeah, it gets ugly. Shauna and Freddie wreak some serious havoc while cracking some sick jokes.

This storyline promises a continue in the pages of BatGirl!

Man what a creepfest.

A day later, of course, the internet exploded as an article called “Want to be a Dc Artist? Just draw Harley Quinn naked committing suicide.” Made the rounds. Let me be clear. I know Harley Quinn isn’t supposed to make good decisions or be a role model… but why does this mean she has to be hyper-sexualized and defeated? and not even cleverly so at that.

Look, DC here’s the deal: comic books are good. Everyone wants them. And we all want to feel represented. We know, we know, your core audience is straight white men who don’t know how to talk to girls… broaden your horizons. If you don’t allow your characters to have innovative storylines you can’t blame it on the audience.

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The Poison Ivy book would have been clever without killing off her mom (I know, her abusive dad taught her that flowers could manipulate people, it was her thesis! No. Still no).

Ventriloquist was dark creepy and was an interesting social commentary on the pressure society puts on girls to be beautiful. Not my favorite villain by any means, but a great story.

8 thoughts on “Poison Ivy #1 + Ventrioquist #1 (FULL LENGTH BONUS RANT INCLUDED)

  1. I don’t usually read comic books, but you actually made me want to pick up The Poison Ivy! It’s funny how an enthusiastic review can help me wander into unknown genres!

  2. I didn’t read the Poison Ivy book, but Ventriloquist was delightfully creepy.

    Unfortunately with all the editorial control that DC has right now though, it’s hard to want to support them in any way. Books changing writers too fast for their writers to build on any kind of story. Editors approving and later disapproving stories. Not allowing writers to even touch certain popular characters from the pre-52 days. Pointless changes to characters’ back stories. Even as someone who hasn’t read much of their pre-52 comics, I’m quickly growing tired of this.

    W. Hayden Blackman and JH Williams III are not the first people to quit because of the editorial stranglehold, and I’d be willing to bet that they won’t be the last.

  3. It’s funny (yet said) as a guy I never think of looking at it this way.

    I’m gonna play devil’s advocate with… hyper-sexualized. Villains are supposed to be more dark and risque than their heroic counterparts.

    Let’s take Harley for example. I thought her outfit was meant to be more evil/sexy than the one-sie from back in the 90s Batman cartoon. Nowadays in comics, a lot of female characters (both male and female) have their belly button exposed. Example: One of our mutual faves, Rachel Summers. (It may not be exposed in the newer comics now that she’s a headmistress, but it was when she was in space with Havok). The smudged make-up is a nice touch. The handcuffs… are a little much. My first thought wasn’t kinky sex but, now that it’s been mentioned, the two occur together so much that I will ALWAYS associate her handcuffs with kinky sex.

    Still, I hear what you’re saying (and I’m on your side, too). Females in comics are often unnecessarily sexy (I can’t think of a female comic character with small breasts… except for Cassandra Nova, but that’s b/c she’s supposed to look like Charles Xavier). But so are the men. I wish I had broad shoulders and abs like that (Me and Shaun T. have been working on it [http://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/insanity.do?e=6b]).

    And… about the whole DC thing…. i actually don’t read DC. Just, not my thing. BUT! I’ve heard the reasoning stopping Batwoman’s marriage is because no marriage is the policy for all of their characters. They don’t want such permanent changes. Not sure if it’s true. And, either way, I think it’s a silly rule. Hell, if you hate marriage that bad, just have the spouse get murdered.

    • As far as having a broad anti-marriage policy, I think that’s fine in general, but someone should have used better judgement on this one. If the creative team thought it was integral to the story, they should have given leeway (this time, if for no other reason: because it is a groundbreaking event to have a gay wedding from one of the big 2, lets face it) I know that wasn’t the only reason, it’s the one that gets attention… they aren’t giving the freedom to their writers, they’re going to put out boring crap (ie; the mediocre Poison Ivy book, I was a sucker for the shiny cover)

      This “men can be objectified, too” you are technically correct. But lets face it, as a societywide problem… there are no Fat-wife-hot-man shows, there are so many fat-man-hot-wife shows I can’t even deal.

      Did you get Battle of the Atom Chapter 3 yet?

      • (Hmm… Looks like my reply didn’t post. Here’s attempt #2)

        Ha, fat-wife-hot-man shows. I can’t even begin to wonder how you notice this stuff. Teach me your feminist ways, oh wise one.

        I can see being strict about characters who show up in multiple titles (for example, no matter how good the writer is, Marvel isn’t letting anyone kill Wolverine off). But I don’t think Batwoman is huge enough to be so strict. I agree, I say trust the writers.

        I did read BotA ch. 3. I was so UNDERwhelmed by the issue, I’ve been too lazy to blog about it. The brief argument between Storm& Shadowcat/Rachel was the only significant part to me. And I like Jean’s brief explanation as to why she wears the mask. Other than that I wasn’t impressed. Which is twice as bad b/c I spent the WHOLE work day thinking, “man, I can’t wait to leave and buy that comic.”

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