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|First appearance||Batman #181 (June 1966)|
|Created by||Robert Kanigher|
|Full name||Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley|
|Team affiliations||Birds of Prey|
Gotham City Sirens
Secret Society of Super Villains
|Notable aliases||Paula Irving|
|First appearance||Batman #181 (June 1966)|
|Created by||Robert Kanigher|
|Full name||Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley|
|Team affiliations||Birds of Prey|
Gotham City Sirens
Secret Society of Super Villains
|Notable aliases||Paula Irving|
Poison Ivy (Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley) is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillainess who is primarily an enemy of Batman. Created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, she first appeared in Batman #181 (June 1966).
Poison Ivy is depicted as one of the world's most prominent eco-terrorists. She is obsessed with plants, botany, and environmentalism. She uses toxins from plants and mind controlling pheromones for her criminal activities, which are usually aimed at protecting the natural environment. Fellow villain Harley Quinn became her recurring partner-in-crime and her best friend. She has proven to be one of Batman's more powerful foes, being one of the few members of his Rogues Gallery to display anything close to superpowers. Pamela Isley a.k.a. Poison Ivy has been portrayed as a love interest for Batman in some comics. In one comic, Ivy was robbing a charity gala Bruce Wayne was attending. Ivy's first kiss was poison, the second its antidote. When they first meet, Ivy's toxic lips planted a seed of toxic rapture in Bruce. But when she later kissed a dying Dark Knight, Ivy unknowingly cured her intended victim and established a budding romantic tension between them.
Creator Robert Kanigher modeled Poison Ivy after Bettie Page, giving her the same haircut and Southern drawl as Page. In her first appearances in 1966, no origin was developed; she was merely a temptress. When she first arrived in Gotham City, her costume was a one-piece, strapless green bathing suit, covered with leaves. Leaves also formed her bracelets, necklace and crown. She wore green high heels and yellow-green nylon stockings with leaves painted on them. These particulars changed somewhat when she re-appeared.
Poison Ivy was promoted after the rise of feminism pointed out the need for a greater number of more independent female villains in the series. She was also used to replace the increasingly sympathetic Catwoman as a clearly antagonistic female supervillain foil for Batman, and then made further appearances in the Batman comic book series and in Suicide Squad. The second, retconned origin story provided for her by Neil Gaiman in the late 1980s linked her to Swamp Thing and his original Black Orchid as a human-plant hybrid. She has since appeared in starring roles in Gotham City Sirens and Birds of Prey.
In the 1997 film, Batman & Robin, she was portrayed by Uma Thurman. Poison Ivy has been featured in the television series, Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, brought to life by voice actresses Diane Pershing and Piera Coppola respectively. She is significantly younger on The Batman than in any of her other incarnations – a teenager in fact, who nevertheless proves to be one of the most powerful criminals in the world.
Following the character's initial appearance, Poison Ivy continued to appear in the various Batman comic book series and had a major role in Suicide Squad and the Black Orchid mini-series. An origin story was later retconned for her.
The character was partly inspired by the short story Rappaccini's Daughter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Robert Kanigher has stated that she was originally modeled after Bettie Page. Artists such as Jim Lee draw her in a green form-fitting one-piece bathing suit.
Dr. Lillian Rose, a promising botanist from Seattle, is seduced by Marc LeGrande into assisting him with the theft of an Egyptian artifact containing ancient herbs. Fearing she would implicate him in the theft, he attempts to poison her with the herbs, which are deadly and untraceable. She survives this murder attempt and discovers she has acquired an immunity to all natural toxins and diseases.
Following the events of the DC maxi-series comic Crisis on Infinite Earths, which massively retconned DC Universe history and continuity, Poison Ivy's origins were revised in Secret Origins #36, 1988, written by Neil Gaiman. Pamela Lillian Isley grows up wealthy with emotionally distant parents. She later studies advanced botanical biochemistry at a university with Alec Holland under Dr. Jason Woodrue. Isley, a timid shy girl, is easily seduced by her professor. Woodrue injects Isley with poisons and toxins as an experiment, causing her transformation. She nearly dies twice as a result of these poisonings, driving her insane. Later, Woodrue flees from the authorities leaving Isley in the hospital for six months. Enraged at the betrayal, she suffers from violent mood swings, being sweet one moment and evil the next. When her boyfriend has a car accident after mysteriously suffering from a massive fungal overgrowth, Isley drops out of school and leaves Seattle, eventually settling in Gotham City.
She begins her criminal career by threatening to release her suffocating spores into the air unless the city meets her demands. Batman, who appears in Gotham that very same year, thwarts her scheme, and she is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum. From this point on, she has a kind of obsession with Batman, he being the only person she could not control. Over the years, she develops plant-like superpowers, the most noticeable being a lethal toxin in her lips; she is able to literally kill with a kiss.
In subsequent issues, she states that she only started a life of crime to attain sufficient funds to find a location to be alone with her plants, undisturbed by humanity. A few years later, she attempts to leave Gotham forever, escaping Arkham to settle on a desert island in the Caribbean. She transforms the barren wasteland into a second Eden, and is, for the first time in her life, happy. It is soon firebombed, however, when an American-owned corporation tests their weapons systems out on what they think is an abandoned island. Ivy returns to Gotham with a vengeance, punishing those responsible. After being willingly apprehended by Batman, she resolves that she can never leave Gotham, at least not until the world was safe for plants. From then on, she dedicates herself to the impossible mission of "purifying" Gotham.
At one point, Batman travels to Seattle to ascertain information on Pamela Isley's life before she became Poison Ivy. Here, Batman states that both of Pamela's parents are dead. When and why they died has been left undetermined.
While in Arkham, Poison Ivy receives a message through flowers that someone is to help her escape. That night, two women, Holly and Eva, successfully break Ivy out and bring her back to their employer. She is less than happy to discover that it is the Floronic Man, formerly known as Dr. Jason Woodrue, her former college professor that conducted the experiments on her. The only human portion of him remaining is his head, while the rest of his body is plant-based.
After striking a deal with him in the underground tunnels of Gotham, Ivy receives a trunk full of money in return for samples of her DNA. Woodrue intends to combine their DNA to create a "child", all while flooding the streets of Gotham with high-powered marijuana. The purpose of this is to create a world economy run on hemp and to have their offspring control it. Batman intervenes, but is overcome by Woodrue's henchwomen, Holly and Eva. However, Ivy turns on Floronic Man and lets Batman go to fight the intoxicated maniac. In the end, Batman decapitates the Floronic Man, and Ivy escapes with her money.
At times, Ivy demonstrates positive, even maternal traits. When Gotham City is destroyed in an earthquake, rather than fight over territory like most of Batman's enemies, she holds dominion over Robinson Park and turns it into a tropical paradise. Sixteen children who are orphaned during the quake come to live with her as she sympathizes with them having suffered a traumatic childhood herself. She cares for them like sons and daughters, despite her usual misanthropy.
That winter, Clayface (Basil Karlo) pays Ivy a visit, hoping to form a bargain with her. This would entail her growing fruits and vegetables, having the orphans harvest them, and him selling the produce to the highest bidder. She wants nothing to do with the plan, and she attempts to kill him with a kiss. Clayface overpowers her, however, and imprisons Ivy and the orphans for six months in a chamber under the park's lake. He feeds her salt and keeps her from the sun to weaken her. Eventually, Batman comes and discovers the imprisoned orphans and Ivy. The two agree to work together to take Karlo down. Batman battles Clayface and instructs Robin to blow up the lake bed above, allowing the rushing water to break apart the mud, effectively freeing Ivy. She fights Karlo, ensnaring him in the branches of a tree and fatally kissing him. She then proceeds to sink him down into the ground, where he becomes fertilizer for Ivy's plants. Batman, originally intending to take the orphans away from Ivy, recognizes that staying with her is what is best for them, and they remain in her care until the city is restored. Also, as part of a bargain to keep her freedom, Batman arranges it so that Ivy provides fresh produce to the starving hordes of earthquake survivors. Soon after, Ivy finds Harley Quinn, who had almost been murdered by the Joker, among the debris of the earthquake and nurses her back to health. The two have been best friends and partners-in-crime ever since.
After Gotham City is reopened to the public, the city council wants to evict her from the park and send her back to Arkham Asylum, as they are uncomfortable with the thought of a "psychotic eco-terrorist controlling the equivalent of 30-odd square blocks." They also mistakenly believe that the orphans in Ivy's care are hostages. The Gotham City Police Department threaten to spray the park with R.C. Sixty, a powerful herbicide that most certainly would have killed every living plant in the park, including Ivy, and more than likely do harm to the children. Ivy refuses to leave the park to the city and let them destroy the paradise she had created, so she chooses martyrdom. It is only after Rose, one of the orphans, is accidentally poisoned by Ivy that the hardened eco-terrorist surrenders herself to the authorities in order to save the girl's life. Batman says that, as much as she would hate to admit it, Ivy is still more human than plant.
Later on, she and other Gotham characters are manipulated by the Riddler and Hush. Her task is to hypnotize both Superman and Catwoman, using Catwoman to steal ransom money from Killer Croc after the original plan is interrupted by Batman while Superman serves as a 'bodyguard' when she hides in Metropolis. However, she abandons Catwoman to be killed by Killer Croc, and Batman is able to keep Superman busy in a fight (aided by the Kryptonite ring he was given long ago) long enough for the Man of Steel to break out of the spell. Soon afterwards, the Riddler, who is being chased and attacked by Hush, approaches Ivy and seeks her protection. Ivy, who is angered by the manipulation, battles the Riddler physically and psychologically. She comes to physically dominate her opponent, humiliating Riddler and temporarily breaking his spirit.
Poison Ivy comes to believe that her powers are killing the children she had looked after, so she seeks Bruce Wayne's help to reverse her powers and make her a normal human being once more. Soon after, she is convinced by Hush to take another serum to restore her powers and apparently dies in the process. However, when her grave is visited shortly thereafter, it is covered with ivy, creating the impression her death would be short-lived.
Shortly after, Poison Ivy appears briefly in Robinson Park, killing two corrupt cops who killed one of her orphans (although whether this takes place before or after the aforementioned storyline is unknown).
"One Year Later", Ivy is alive and active. Her control over flora has increased, referred to as being on a par with Swamp Thing or Floronic Man. She also appears to have resumed her crusade against the corporate enemies of the environment with a new fanaticism, regarding Batman no longer as a main opponent, but as a "hindrance." After arriving back from a year-long absence, Batman discovers that Ivy has been feeding people including "tiresome lovers", "incompetent henchmen", and those who "returned her smile" to a giant plant which would digest the victims slowly and painfully. She refers to these murders as a "guilty pleasure". In an unprecedented event, her victims' souls merge with the plant, creating a botanical monster called Harvest, who seeks revenge upon Poison Ivy. With the intervention of Batman however, she is saved. Poison Ivy is left in critical condition, and the whereabouts of Harvest are unknown.
In Countdown #37, the Piper and the Trickster are hiding out in a greenhouse, picking fruits and vegetables from the plants. They run into Ivy, who is talking to her plants (presumably being told that Piper and Trickster hurt them), to which she reacts by tying them up in vines with the intention of killing them. She is then shown to have joined the Injustice League Unlimited and is one of the villains featured in Salvation Run.
In the "Battle for the Cowl" storyline, she is coerced by a new Black Mask into joining his group of villains that aims to take over Gotham. She and Killer Croc unsuccessfully attempt to murder Damian Wayne.
During Hush's ploy to hurt Batman through hurting his loved ones, Hush kidnaps Catwoman and surgically removes her heart. After being saved by Batman, she is operated on by some of the most gifted surgeons in the world, including Doctor Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific. Zatanna also gives her a magic antidote to help heal her wounds. In order to get even with Hush, Selina enlists the help of Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Oracle, Holly Robinson, and Slam Bradley to track down all of Hush's accounts, pilfer them, and leave him penniless. Selina pays Holly, Harley, and Ivy over $30 million each, hoping that they would use the funds to leave Gotham to start fresh somewhere else. However, Harley uses her money to go on a shopping spree, while Ivy gives her money away to organizations in Madagascar and Costa Rica for reforestation.
After rescuing Catwoman from Boneblaster, a new villain trying to make a name for himself, Poison Ivy takes Catwoman back to Edward Nigma's townhouse. When there, Catwoman sees that Ivy has been keeping the Riddler under mind control so that she and Harley could use his townhouse as a hideout. Here, Catwoman decides that with Gotham City more dangerous than ever with all the gang wars and a new Batman, a partnership with the other two women would be advantageous. However, Ivy fears that Catwoman has lost her edge and prowess, and consults with Zatanna on the nature of Catwoman's injuries. Zatanna responds that Catwoman has psychological wounds that would need healing. Ivy resolves that she and Harley would provide Catwoman with "positive female reinforcement". The three then agree to become a team. However, Harley and Ivy have one condition: they demand that Catwoman reveal to them the true identity of Batman.
Eventually, Ivy and the other Sirens ambush the Riddler at his office (with Ivy using her plants to truss and gag his secretary), telling him that they've been framed for the murder of a young nurse. He agrees to help clear their names, and during the discussion Ivy reveals that she has recently taken up a job at the Gotham division of S.T.A.R. Labs under an assumed name (Dr. Paula Irving). She is eventually kidnapped and placed in a specialized containment unit by a researcher named Alisa Adams, but escapes and turns the table on her captor by binding her with vines. Ivy initially informs Adams that she plans to kill her, but instead decides to let her live after seeing a photograph of Alisa's young daughter. Ivy then threatens Alisa into keeping her mouth shut about her true identity, telling her that she will change her mind and kill her if she reveals her secret to anyone.
When Harley Quinn betrays her friends and breaks into Arkham Asylum with the goal of killing the Joker, she ultimately chooses instead to release Joker from his cell, and together the two orchestrate a violent takeover of the facility. Poison Ivy arrives and tries to convince Harley Quinn that the Joker is evil, but Harley Quinn refuses to believe her and knocks Poison Ivy unconscious. After they are defeated by Catwoman and Batman, Catwoman then tells Poison Ivy that they are no longer friends, after Ivy had drugged Catwoman in an attempt to discover Batman's identity. Poison Ivy is taken in Arkham Asylum. Ivy soon escapes and ambushes Harley in her cell, binding and gagging her former friend before she can defend herself. Ivy struggles with the decision to execute Harley for her betrayal, but ultimately releases her after realizing that she is still her friend. Together, the two set off to find Catwoman and make her pay for leaving them behind. The two of them found Catwoman and fought her on the streets. While they were fighting, Catwoman confessed that she saw good in the both of them and only wanted to help them. When she told them that she only kept tabs on them because Batman wanted to keep them under control, Ivy lashed out onto the city by using giant vines to destroy buildings, cursing at Batman for manipulating her. Batman was about to arrest them, but Catwoman helped the two of them escape.
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Poison Ivy is recruited into the covert-ops group known as the Birds of Prey. Though she is specifically hand-picked by the team's leader Black Canary, the other members of the group protest Ivy's inclusion, citing her violent past and connections to various murders. These suspicions are proven correct when Ivy poisons the team and forces them to attack corrupt companies she wants to destroy until Katana apparently kills her.
Ivy survives the injuries and returns to Gotham, breaking out Clayface/Basil Karlo in order to manipulate him into becoming her husband. Batman intervenes to help her, mainly because the locations she attacked were the Penguin's properties. Poison Ivy ends up captured by Penguin's men. She is buried alive by them, but survives long enough to be rescued by Penguin's right-hand man Emperor Penguin who has taken his boss' businesses after the Joker's return. He proposes an alliance with her. However, Karlo, who Batman had set free from Ivy's control, tracks down and attacks Poison Ivy.
In this timeline of The New 52, Pamela Isley was born with a skin condition that prevented her from leaving her home, the garden was the place where she spent most of her limited time in the outside. Her father constantly beat her mother until he finally murdered her and buried her in the garden. While in college, Pamela sold pheromone pills to other students to study its effects until she was caught by police. She used a powerful version of the pills to mind-control the Dean so he would drop the charges and let her graduate from college with honors. While visiting her father in prison, she kissed him with a poison that was secreted from her lips that killed him.
Later she landed an internship in Wayne Enterprises in its Bio-Chem division developing pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. She was fired after proposing Bruce Wayne to develop chemicals that trigger social or behavioral responses (basically brainwashing). As she was escorted out by security, she accidentally spilled the chemicals she was working with on herself, giving her powers to control plant life and immunity to all poisons and viruses.
Ivy calls herself an "eco-terrorist of global importance" and has demonstrated philanthropic contributions to conservation efforts. A Gotham Girls episode "Pave Paradise" has her going out of her way to get Gotham's mayor to prevent bulldozing of a park because he swore he wouldn't in his election campaign.
The dangerous experiments that transformed Pamela into Poison Ivy placed a deliberate overdose of plant and animal based toxins into her blood stream that make her touch deadly while also allowing her to boost her immunity to all poisons, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This immunity also includes Joker venom. Some comics have even gone so far as to depict her as more plant than human, breathing CO2 and requiring sunlight to survive.
Despite retaining in her earlier appearances her Caucasian, red-haired appearance, in time the amount of vegetable toxins and chlorophyll in her tissue tinted her skin permanently green. After years of practice, she regained the ability to consciously control her appearance, restoring herself to an almost fully human facade, with only her lips and eyes tinted a bright shade of green.
Ivy's body produces pheromones that make people susceptible to mind control around her, although strong-minded people like Batman are usually capable of resisting. She was even once able to control Superman with the use of kryptonite and ordered him to fight Batman in a fierce battle that Batman managed to survive.
She specializes in hybrids and can create the most potently powerful floral toxins in Gotham City. Often these toxins are secreted from her lips and administered in her preferred way, a poisonous kiss, usually after professing false love or affection for her victim. They come in a number of varieties, from mind-controlling drugs to instantly fatal toxins.
In some adaptations, she can control plants with her mind. For example, while in Arkham, she was able to manipulate and animate plants, using roots to form supports for a tunnel she and another inmate named Magpie were digging to escape, and also spawning glowing fungi to entertain Magpie.
Poison Ivy is identified by the Swamp Thing as a being with an elemental mystical component, whom he calls the "May Queen". Writers have not referred to her in this way in quite some time. Ivy also shows capabilities of using the Green to communicate over great distances, as she manifests in a vase of roses in Zatanna's dressing room to talk to the magician.
Poison Ivy carries, on her current costume, a certain amount of live vines: coupled with her natural ability to commune with plant life, they act as weaponry, or defensive/grabbing appendages. Their supply is, however, limited.
Ivy's capabilities were greatly reduced in Batman: The Animated Series; her only physical power is an immunity to poison. Her deadly kiss was only possible with a special lipstick poisoned with toxins extracted from a plant. She admits to having a "hyperactive immune system" which prevents her from having children. In The Batman, she can even exhale mind-controlling spores in the form of a blown kiss.
In JLA: Created Equal, Ivy and Swamp Thing team up to mentally travel through the Green, to try and discover what exactly caused the event which wiped out almost every male on the planet. But the trip is too much for her and it shatters her mind.
In Batman: Crimson Mist, Ivy is one of the many villains whom the now vampiric Batman kills for blood, the vampire Batman's presence causing her plants to wither around him as he gives Ivy the kiss she always wanted, commenting that he could only want her while in the darkness and decay of corruption. Her head is apparently left at GCPD headquarters after her demise.
In JLA/Avengers #3, Poison Ivy appears as a servant of Krona and attacks Aquaman and the Vision as a part of a group of villains. Poison Ivy strangles Aquaman in vines but is blasted by Iron Man and defeated.
Poison Ivy has appeared in most of the Batman video games over the years. In most of these games, Ivy does not fight Batman directly and usually watches in the background while Batman fights one of her plant monsters. She appeared as a boss in:
Poison Ivy first cropped up to plague Gotham City in issue #181 of Batman. Scripter Robert Kanigher and artist Sheldon Moldoff came up with a villain who would blossom into one of Batman's greatest foes.
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