Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Art: Marcio Takara, Guillem March, Kelley Jones, A.L. Kaplan
Colors: Arif Prianto, José Villarrubia, A.L. Kaplan
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover: Jessica Fong
Variant Covers: Kai Carpenter & Frank Cho; Mindy Lee; Sweeney Boo; Claire Roe & Tríona Farrell
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 6, 2023
The love of Ivy’s life lives in Gotham City. So that’s where Ivy is. But Ivy’s past still haunts her, and her future is unclear. POISON IVY #13 builds up a new status quo without losing track of the old and does so in a way that’s inviting to new readers.
Ivy spends most of POISON IVY #13 searching for a place where she belongs now that she’s back in Gotham. Ivy burned–or covered in plants–her bridges behind her when she left the city, so she has some work to do if she’s going to have much of a life here. Ivy’s day start with a message from Catwoman: the Bats are all after Ivy. Rather than drag that part of her return to Gotham out, Ivy confronts Batman on friendly turf and the pair reach a detente: he’ll leave her alone as long as she doesn’t cause problems. Already knowing how unlikely that is, Ivy goes looking for a place to lay low if she needs it–someplace safer and more remote than Harley’s. Unfortunately Killer Croc is squatting in her first choice, and she isn’t willing to go find a second one.
POISON IVY #13 reads like a reset. That’s not to say that Wilson is discarding what happened in the first twelves issues. Indeed, Ivy being unable to escape her past remains a dominant theme. But she’s no longer on the road. She’s no longer isolated from people. She’s no longer free from the watchful eye of someone like Batman. With the character having so many changes to her status quo at once, it makes sense for Wilson to turn in an issue that says “This is where we are now, and these are the places we might be going.” In this way the issue is effective at what it sets out to do. And rather than being slow thanks to an exposition overload (because there is a lot of dialogue and narration), it’s fast moving and well-paced with moments of high tension during the Batman and Killer Croc encounters.
Wilson further expands on Ivy’s “activism” in this issue by folding in some minor commentary on class structure as it relates specifically to real estate. The discussion on the topic isn’t subtle, but it also isn’t out of character because Wilson gets the character there via environmentalism which is already Ivy’s bread and butter. Ivy doesn’t simply launch into a diatribe about real estate and the wealthy. She makes the connections between her usual concerns and this adjacent problem. It’s a clever piece of writing that allows Wilson to have a character comment on a topic in a logical way–to make a statement via someone who we are already accustomed to seeing make statements.
The Art & Letters
POISON IVY #13 delivers art by committee with four artists and three colorists. The breakdown is very logical, though, with changes in artist and colorist reflecting the change in story beats. The different sections also play to the strengths of those on them. For instance, Jones is the artist for the sequence where Ivy encounters Batman. Jones delivers the powerful Batman that he’s known for with exceptionally tall points on his mask and a cape so big that it looks like a living extension of Batman’s body. Jones extends that sensibility to Ivy’s hair to a degree. While certainly not the same in size and scope as Batman’s cape, her hair still reflects life and power–in some moments reminiscent of a fire.
Kaplan’s art is the most out of place in the book, and it’s largely due to the coloring. Kaplan does his own coloring and the hues he chooses are somewhat lifeless. To an extent this makes sense. Ivy is in a broken down cabin in a swamp at what looks to be dusk. Kaplan uses a lot of faded yellows and oranges alongside some browns. But POISON IVY as a series usually radiates life with its visuals even in the darkest and deadliest moments. Kaplan even includes one of the mind-bending moments Takara excels at. Unfortunately, without the more psychedelic color palette that usually accompanies them, the moment isn’t nearly as captivating.
Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering keeps to one style throughout every art change. When it comes to emphasizing dialogue, that really isn’t much of an issue. It’s a bigger deal when it comes to the sound effects. Otsmane-Elhaou uses a rough and thin (almost twig thin at times) style for the vast majority of the issue’s sound effects. The style is a perfect match for Kaplan’s art and mostly effective with Jones. It doesn’t work terribly well with March’s style which is softer and relies on shading somewhat more than lines to convey texture and depth. But since the alternative is to try and match a different lettering style to each art style, the uniformity is an overall good choice.
Readers who perhaps avoided POISON IVY because they didn’t get onboard with the series in the beginning should give this issue a look. For all intents and purposes, POISON IVY #13 is a new first issue. But it’s also not limited by that fact. And while this issue does have a rough patch or two, this series’ floor is still higher than many other series’ ceilings.