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DC Showcase: ‘Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle’ Comic Review

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Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle collects the first 6 issues and 2 prelude stories of the ongoing series by G. Willow Wilson & Marcio Takara. With 25 issues currently lined up and more on the way, it is one of the longest and most successful Poison Ivy series of all time. The book also won the Outstanding Comic Book award at the GLAAD Media Awards 2023. The series focuses on Poison Ivy as she leaves Gotham City behind and tries to make an end to humanity in order to save the planet. But while carrying out her plan, she ends up meeting numerous people who make her rethink her decision and force her to go on a path of self discovery (and self-healing).

[Editor’s Note: This review of Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle was written by guest author Emmy Stacy.]

The Virtuous Cycle features an outstanding creative team with writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Marcio Takara. You may know G. Willow Wilson as the co-creator of Kamala Khan and original writer of Ms. Marvel (2014), while Marcio Takara is known from his work on Dynamo 5 (2007) and Incorruptible (2009). G. Willow Wilson also won the Graphic Literature Innovator Prize at the PEN America Literary Awards in 2015 and has been nominated numerous times at the Eisner Awards.

With the launch of James Gunn’s DCU coming up soon, it’s only natural to start thinking about which characters will receive an adaptation in it. And this comic offers tons of inspiration as to what a potential DCU Poison Ivy could look like. So let’s take a look at everything this book has to offer and how it might serve as inspiration for Ivy’s next live action appearance!

[Warning: spoilers in the review below.]

G. Willow Wilson writes a compelling and complex Poison Ivy in The Virtuous Cycle

Going into this comic, I actually didn’t know much about the character of Poison Ivy besides some basic information. But I’m so happy that I bought this comic. It was such a beautiful, bittersweet and heartfelt comic from a very compelling point of view of a villain who is tired of the world and has no answer for her frustrations with it.

G. Willow Wilson (also known for Ms. Marvel) starts the story with Ivy leaving both Gotham City and Harley Quinn. Frustrated with everything that happened in the past, she goes on a quest to save the planet, by killing the humans inhabiting it. But as she goes on that journey, she ends up questioning her own motives about why she wants to do this. She starts contemplating whether humanity deserves being killed or not. All while dealing with more personal issues as well.

I really love how complex Ivy’s writing and character is. It was something that I was quite surprised about, as I didn’t expect her to have such rich characterization. She is very intriguing, with morals and opinions that are compelling to read. That just really makes her into a very complicated, layered villain, who deep down just wants what is right for the planet by any means necessary.

It was so interesting watching her character evolve throughout the issues. After everything she’s been through, she’s convinced that the world and everyone in it must die in order to live again; but that belief is mainly based on her own anger, frustration, and powerlessness.

I love how the letter she writes to Harley throughout the issues is a strong catalyst for her slowly changing her opinion as to what she wants to happen to the world. She loves Harley a lot, and I love how that complex and messy love gets explored with all its ups and downs. And it’s her love and passion for Harley & The Green that really makes her arrive at a crossroads about whether to go further with her plan to destroy humanity. That alongside the human interactions she has in her road trip through the country to carry out her plan.

I love how she slowly comes to love and care for the people she meets along the way, and has second thoughts when she thinks about those people meeting the fate she has in store for them. Her love and care for those people is another catalyst that makes her realize not all humans are the enemy. But rather, there are real enemies of the planet out there, and it’s the easy route to take to just blame everyone and put your frustrations onto them. I, for one, can’t wait to see her take upon these enemies in the next arc!

Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle (DC Comics)
Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle (DC Comics)

I also really liked the unique perspectives the comic offered when it came to its social commentary, especially about the environment and planet. I think it’s easy to fall into a very cliché way of thinking and writing when it comes to those issues. But this book managed to avoid that and write something really compelling and unexpected, in the sense that it gives you points of view you haven’t really thought of before (like Ivy’s monologue about why she isn’t vegetarian or her talks about how the planet’s ecosystems work). I thoroughly enjoyed those parts of the book because it gives so much insight into Ivy as a character.

It was also really nice to see how this arc ends with her overcoming her old mentor (and abuser) and how her perspective on humanity changes afterward. Abuse and body autonomy are definitely subjects that this comic deals with in very interesting ways. Whether it’s her dealing with drunk guys in a bar or saving a girl she just met from a boss who was sexually abusing her. These moments give a lot of insight into Poison Ivy’s character, both in how she deals with them, and how it’s visualized on the pages.

Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle (DC Comics)
Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle (DC Comics)

The beauty and horror of nature explored

Another standout part of Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle was the art by Marcio Takara with colors by Arif Prianto. Their work in this book was so beautiful but also beautifully terrifying. I think they were able to visualize both the beauty and horror of nature in such a perfect way. Prianto’s very vibrant coloring work stands out and makes for a very distinct style that just completely fits the tone of the book and Ivy’s powerset. The panel layouts too were a work of art at times and really made use of the environments within the panels perfectly. I also absolutely love how they incorporate both the beauty and horror of nature so well into her costume. I was in absolute awe when it appeared in the first issue!

Another thing I appreciated was the care in the lettering done by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The way each panel of Ivy’s narration was visualized as a shredded-up letter to Harley Quinn was a really cool detail!

Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle (DC Comics)
Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle (DC Comics)

Cinematic potential of this DC comic story

This book definitely can serve as inspiration for Poison Ivy’s next live action appearance on the big screen. The body horror elements alongside the unique usage of plants and fungi makes for a distinct version of the character that would translate really well. Her costume in this is also something unlike anything seen before, and undoubtedly would look incredible were it to be adapted for her next live action appearance.

Story wise, I feel that Ivy’s complex, yet human characterization in this book is something that has to be adapted no matter what. It gives her character so much more depth than what the casual audience would expect out of her. There is a lot of material to work with in this book that could give Poison Ivy her best live action adaptation yet.

My verdict on Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle

As someone who didn’t know much about Poison Ivy going into this book, I can definitely say that The Virtuous Cycle is a perfect start for anyone looking to learn more about the character. It offers complex characterization, beautiful art, and an intriguing yet easy to understand story. No prior reading is needed, in my opinion, as this volume collects everything you need to understand the story.

With the limited exposure I’ve had to her character in other media, I can say that this is the most complex, nuanced and human version of the character I have seen so far. That is what makes this book such a compelling read. It offers a deep insight into who Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy is as a person and really allows you to understand this character in so many ways.

It’s an understatement to say that I absolutely loved this book. And I’m super happy I picked it up! Poison Ivy is a great character already, and I didn’t expect to love her this much so fast. The art for this book is outstanding alongside the fantastic writing and characterization. 

Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle Vol. 1 is available via your local comic book store, Amazon, other book shops, and via DC Infinite. Vol. 2 titled Unethical Consumption is also available with a paperback version being released on July 23, 2024.  Have you read any Poison Ivy comics before? How would you like to see her adapted in the DCU or Matt Reeves’ The Batman universe? Let us know on social media @MyCosmicCircus.

Check out our full list of DC Showcases here, including our review of Harley Quinn’s origin story in Batman: Mad Love! Also listen to our discussion about the new DCU Slate on our Cosmic Circle podcast!

DC Showcase: Batman Adventures: Mad Love

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Cosmic Circle Ep. 18: New DC Slate Discussion

New DC Slate

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Lizzie Hill

I'm a lifelong fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies. In July 2021, I launched The Cosmic Circus as Editor-In-Chief with a small but passionate group of writers. I am now also the owner/EiC of subdomain site, Cosmic Circus Broadway. @MsLizzieHill on Twitter and Instagram.

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