November 16’s Batman #117 is advertised as the finale of the current ‘Fear State’ crossover event running through the Bat-family titles, but in the ending is a new beginning to a classic duo in DC Comics.
Spoilers ahead for Batman #117
Although ‘Fear State’ isn’t about Poison Ivy centrally, she has appeared in the crossover event as a villainous version of herself, despite last being seen as relatively heroic in recent issues of Catwoman. Poison Ivy has been fairly unpredictable in recent years, oscillating between hero and villain depending on the storyline – confusing fans of the characters, and comic readers in general.
Although seemingly unplanned at the time, Batman #117 by James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez pulls it all together by saying that there have indeed been multiple Poison Ivies running around the DC Universe for years – even before her death/resurrection in Heroes in Crisis. No, this isn’t multiversal variants – it’s something more grounded… or planted, rather.
According to Harley, “right before” 2018’s Batman #41 when Poison Ivy attacked Gotham the last time, the recently-introduced DC villain the Gardener was worried she may not survive and spliced off “the most precious innocent part of you and put it in a seed and planted it safely away.” (“Away” being in the caverns underneath Gotham City.)
The Gardener – real name Bella Garten – is an eco-terrorist introduced in Batman #107. She was revealed to have been Poison Ivy’s college girlfriend, and even though they broke up she retained an interest in using plants to further her goals.
Although “some bad guys” found this version of Ivy the Gardener secreted away and tried to subvert her to their own uses, Catwoman saved the innocent Ivy in May’s Catwoman #31. Catwoman and Harley then brought this innocent Ivy to the more public, more villainous Ivy we’ve been seeing in comics recently.
“She’s got all of your innocence,” Harley says. “The part of you that still sees the best in people. The part of you I can see is missing. She’s great… see?”
The villainous version of Ivy reluctantly agrees to reunite and merge with the innocent Ivy – resulting in the first time Ivy has apparently been ‘all together’ since 2018.
One of the first things she notices is how her plants have insinuated themselves all through Gotham – and that due to the current ‘Fear State’ event “the people up there are shaking with fear. It’s overwhelming. I can do something else with my reach…”
Poison Ivy then uses her plants – and their pheromones – to calm down the city.
Realizing this strains even her graduated power, she decides to relinquish some of her power – and finds a good place for it: in healing an injured child the Unsanity Collective had brought to her earlier in the ‘Fear State’ crossover.
After all that, Ivy has one more thing she’d like to do – with Harley. Harley begins babbling a bit about seeing her former lover back as herself for the first time in three years, but Ivy cuts her off, saying “Harley. Stop talking.”
And they kiss.
This series of events would seem to resolve the dissonance surrounding Poison Ivy at DC over the past few years, with her seemingly aimless vacillating between villain and hero and back again, and the low-key dissolution of the Ivy/Harley relationship which was teased as early as 2009 in Gotham City Sirens and then formally confirmed in the ‘New 52’ Harley Quinn run as girlfriends.
The Ivy/Harley romance seems to continue in Harley Quinn #9, which goes on sale on November 23.
Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are in the upper echelon of our most iconic LGBTQIA+ superheroes in comics.