Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Brief Update (and apology)

Poison Ivy Mag 42I'm sure it's rather obvious I've been slacking with my posting duties. I was so overwhelmed at the costume shop this Halloween season I had to make a few temporary sacrifices. One of those being my various internet hobbies. The end of the year Holidays aren't giving me much free time either.

However I look forward to working on quite a few Poison Ivy related projects in the new year. Trust me -- I've mulled over these ideas for months now. We're talking action figure/collectible archives, retrospectives, "best of" lists and more.

Anyway! Gotham City Sirens seems to be going well. With the occasional dull issue here and there. I felt it took far too long to get the action going. But March's art duties more than make up for that. He recently put together a bit piece on his creative process for comic book covers. It's posted at the DCU blog. Luckily, Poison Ivy is the featured character face.

Poison Ivy is also starring in a new Batman 80 Page Giant: seen here. It's an unusual short story -- a rather chilly, contemplative, and occasionally gory offering. The story in question, "Wilt", appears to be out of continuity.

And finally, Ivy is being featured in DC Superhero Figurine Collectors Magazine #43. The magazine showcases the character and includes a die cast figurine based on the Jim Lee design. Eagle Moss Publications is the creator of this collection. The promotional image for this figurine is a bit garish in color -- for a more color accurate image go here.

Thanks for playing along everyone and I look forward to more fun times. Happy Holidays!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gotham City Sirens #3

Cover to Gotham City Sirens #3Alright, let's just get it out of the way...the Sirens were in this issue for only one page. I was not happy about that revelation. Does anyone else find it odd that a new title would hand an entire issue over to another Batman villain this early in the game?

The featured villain was, of course, the Riddler -- pardon me, Edward Nigma. You see, the Riddler appears to be reformed and is now a detective on the beat who prefers his civilian name.

In this issue Mr. Nigma is on the hunt for a serial killer in Gotham City. The healthy and well-to-do are turning up dead and clues are being left at the scenes of the crimes. It turns out some costumed psycho-fan named Conundrum is involved. She's dressed like a Mortal Kombat flunkie with a slight nod to the Riddler costume. I'd go into further detail but I didn't find the story all that compelling. Frankly, the Riddler has never been one of my favorite villains. Perhaps his role in Gotham City Sirens will change my mind. It's likely that Edward Nigma is going to partner up with the Sirens and create a Charlie's Angels type of dynamic.

It was pointed out at the DC Comics message boards that Paul Dini did not write this issue. The credits at the beginning of the book say as much. I'm not sure what's going on with that -- if he's taking a break or if this was just a one-shot for Scott Lobdell. Time will tell.

I'd also like to briefly share my concern over the color job for Sirens. I'm not really liking the muddy quality to the March's colors. I do like Guillem March but I think his palette choices (he does ink and color duty) and style detract from his line art. I will give him credit for a rather slick cover. It's a nod to Bond-esque spy films from the 60s.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batman: The Widening Gyre #1 (Review)

"Why's that broad do anything? 'Cause a pocket full of posies told her to." ~ The Joker

The first issue of Batman: The Widening Gyre was released this week. I wasn't exactly sure what role Poison Ivy played in this series or if she appeared at all. Well, let's just say I saw more of Poison Ivy than I ever expected -- yikes!

The Widening Gyre is a Kevin Smith project. Smith is better known for his screenwriting, directing, and acting efforts. Years ago, Kevin Smith began writing for many of the major comic book houses (to mixed reviews). That leads us to this current DC Comics mini-series.

I must confess, I've read very little of his comic book work. Though I did attempt to collect his Spider-man/Black Cat mini-series but gave up after extended delays. Honestly, I only bothered because I enjoyed the work of Rachel and Terry Dodson.

After seeing the initial preview pages at the DCU Blog I was mildly intrigued. (The preview pages contained no Poison Ivy material) Upon getting my copy I flipped the pages forward to the Arkham Asylum story. It begins with Batman and Nightwing in Bludhaven. They've discovered a body that has been mutilated by plant roots. Naturally, the assumption is that Poison Ivy murdered the man in question. Batman speedboats his way to Arkham Asylum and stumbles upon the building covered in roots and vines.

He axes his way through Arkham and passes many of the rogues trapped in their cells. Batman eventually discovers Poison Ivy lurking about the courtyard. Ivy has retreated there because Etrigan the Demon is running amok and feasting on human flesh. If you want the finer details I suggest you pick up a copy -- because I'm about to focus on what caught my attention the most. The quite bizarre characterization of Poison Ivy.

I'm going to do this in list form. There's so many things to point out I can't think of a better way to say as much.

1. I was quite taken aback by the manner in which she is first seen. Poison Ivy is floating in a vine sling -- topless, spread eagle, and in a most porn-like pose. When Batman declines to explore her "jungle" (as she puts it) Ivy threatens to masturbate herself instead. What!? Everyone knows that Poison Ivy is a seductress but she's never traded in such tramp like behavior. I've always considered Ivy to be a master at the art of tease. It's the difference between burlesque and stripping. Of course she wears sexy costumes but she's never put it all out there in this manner. I absolutely do not approve of this adolescent fanfic portrayal. Ick.

2. Poison Ivy gets Batman stoned. Again -- totally stupid fanboy fantasy nonsense. What's hotter than a naked chick? A naked chick with a bong. Right?

3. I can't believe that Smith created the idea that Poison Ivy slathers herself in patchouli. Batman even refers to it as her "signature scent". Most people associate the word patchouli with stinking hippies. No thanks.

4. Ivy is wearing a belt of thorns against her naked skin. I haven't the faintest idea whether or not this was supposed to be a slight against the crucifixion story. But how else are you supposed to interpret a ring of thorns placed tightly against the skin causing it to bleed. Because Ivy is bleeding at the waist. Tacky and weird.

There's also a scene with Killer Croc that gave me the creeps. When Batman confronts Poison Ivy she releases a sea of pheromones to disarm him. Killer Croc happened to be in the general area and falls under her spell. He charges in and attacks Batman because Bats is trying to "get up in his kool-aid". Seriously. And the entire time they battle Batman is giving narration about how Croc's skin condition is caused by HPV -- better known as genital warts.

Egads! This whole affair leaves me numb. I'm never comfortable when writers are handed Poison Ivy and they immediately toss her into the slut box. (Oooh, green boobies!) It's unimaginative and lazy. Frankly, it's disrespectful to the character and her fans. I'm a completest so this book is going in my back issues collection. But I'll be sure to give it the stink eye on occasion.

Also, the promotional image for this book never appears.

"Oh, Pammy...you've outdone yourself." ~ Batman

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Women of the DCU (Adam Hughes Poster)

This much talked about SDCC 2008 promotional poster from DC is available this month for retail purchase. It's officially titled "The Real Power Of The DC Universe" and features Catwoman, Oracle, Zatanna, Black Canary, Powergirl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Vixen, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. A beautifully drawn panoramic view of the fine women in DC Comics.

In the publicity photo for this poster Poison Ivy was not in her current green skin form. But for the official release she appears as she should. Though I must say I'm not sure how I feel about her depiction. I think the upturned face isn't particularly flattering. And there's some serious leaf action going on with that hair. Of course I'm just being nit picky -- beyond those minor gripes it's a gorgeous offering.

Also of note, Dan Didio asked that Catwoman be left off of the image because DC Comics was not interested in promoting her character. The Catwoman (2.0) monthly was coming to an end and she was not involved in any major storyline. Babs from the Comic Vine interviewed Adam Hughes at the 2009 SDCC and he touches on this very story.

The Real Power Of The DC Universe poster is 39 (wide) x 24 and costs $8.99 US Dollars. Go to DC Direct for further details.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poison Ivy vs. Catwoman

I've been following the Gotham City Sirens monthly and I must say that I'm a bit awed by the idea that Poison Ivy and Catwoman are now aligned. The history between these two characters has been icy at best. But strong women are often seen competing for the spotlight (Betty vs Veronica, Aniston vs. Jolie) and the pages of DC Comics are no different. Well, give or take a few outrageous costumes and the occasional super power.

So, I got to thinking about how these two actually met and when the relationship soured. After nosing about my back issues it appears that these two villains are first seen together in "The Batman Family #17" (1978 Dollar Comics). The story titled "Horoscopes of Crime!" (second story) shows Poison Ivy and Catwoman consulting with fortune teller Madame Zodiac. Both women are seeking out new ways to defeat the enemy; in this instance we are talking about Batgirl, the Huntress, and Batwoman too.

The image above shows Poison Ivy and Catwoman working together to commit a crime. They are, of course, foiled by the three do-gooders but Madame Zodiac manages to escape in a puff of smoke (classic!).

These two ladies wouldn't see each other again until "Batman #400" (1986). This was an anniversary issue featuring various artists and writers -- and a massive Arkham Asylum breakout. A certain "benefactor" frees the villains and sets them loose upon Gotham City. When they break off into teams Poison Ivy finds herself alongside the Riddler and the Scarecrow. As they are plotting and plundering Catwoman crashes in to thwart their efforts. By now Catwoman is skating the line between villain and anti-hero...all in the name of love. This would be the first time Poison Ivy and Catwoman would throw down.

Ten (plus) years would pass before Pam and Selina would have another tussle in the mini-series "The Long Halloween" (a 1997 Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale creation).

By now it's been established that Catwoman considers Batman her own. But the "seductress" aspect of Poison Ivy's character has also been solidified. And we all know what happens when two powerful women compete for the attention of the same man -- hellfire! This Selina's paranoid and manic behavior would bully Pamela off the page. The Long Halloween series launched a battle of the vamps.

About a year later, during the Cataclysm arc, Poison Ivy would again face Catwoman. This was supposed to be quite the event. Ivy battling it out with Catwoman in #57 (v.1) of her solo title! However, I found "Reap What You Sow" to be a bit disappointing. Poison Ivy's "super fertilizer" motivation was cliched at best. But it was her characterization that made me gag.

Poison Ivy crazily tippy-toed through a ravaged Gotham City spouting out ridiculous pro-nature slogans. I don't know why two beautiful (but more importantly smart) women couldn't sensibly share a stage for one issue. I guess if you turn Poison Ivy into a psychotic bimbo Catwoman shines in comparison. Granted, this was Catwoman's book (and perhaps I'm a bit defensive) but there's no reason to devalue Poison Ivy in such a way. This issue closes with a drooling Pamela Isley clutching her own face as roots crawl out from every orifice. Sorry Pam! The vial of fertilizer that was smashed against her face is often blamed for Poison Ivy turning green.

In later 1998 these two lovelies would briefly spar in a Justice League story called "The Nail" (an Elseworlds tale). On an alternate Earth the metahumans are suspect and feared. It parallels the Watchmen story in a few ways; a "Who Watches the Watchmen?" sentiment indeed. Unsurprisingly, Catwoman plays her hand at being the anti-hero in this story. Aligning with Batman to take down the rogues. Why Poison Ivy would choose to swing a blunt weapon at Catwoman is beyond me. She controls giant plants yet she's fiddling with lead pipes? Of course what would a Pam and Selina fight be without the obligatory black leather boot to the red's head.

Ahhh yes, the slap heard around the world. "Hush" gave us a fantastic sparring match between Gotham's costumed queens. I love how Poison Ivy knows that she's likely outmatched in hand to hand combat with Catwoman but backhands her anyway. And trust me, Selina gives Pam quite the beat down. But only until Ivy's plant roots snatch Catwoman into the air like a rag doll. There's many things to appreciate about this scene. First of all, the women have never looked better. Jim Lee is illustrator extraordinaire. His panels are filled with detail and energy. And this is no sissy slap fight -- blood is drawn and necks are nearly snapped.

But, good times never last. Just as Catwoman is about to cash in one of her nine lives a sudden Batarang saves the day.

The "Hush" showdown would be the last true hostile (see: violent) interaction between Poison Ivy and Catwoman -- for now. After recent events in Gotham City and the introduction of Gotham City Sirens...things have changed. Both women have realized there's no reason the female villains in Gotham can't conspire and achieve similar goals. The male rogues often do that very thing.

The vixen rivalry can be sexy and fun -- but it's also a bit played. Poison Ivy and Catwoman are two of the coolest femme fatales in the comic book game (DC rules). These former enemies are now reluctant allies. From Madame Zodiac to Sirens -- they've come full circle. Pam and Selina now stand shoulder to shoulder (or speeding in the same car to save Harley's life) and it's a wonder to behold. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Append: I didn't include the animated history into the bulk of this article because they're too far removed from DCU proper. However, you can be rest assured that the animated Poison Ivy and Catwoman rarely agreed on anything. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that neither character ever interacted in any of the television broadcast DCAU incarnations. (I find that very strange) Though we were lucky enough to see them gather in the online webtoon "Gotham Girls". It was an instant hit that eventually inspired a comic book mini series under the same name (with basically the same designs). I suspect the popularity of these female piloted stories helped in the creation of Gotham City Sirens too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wig Session #01: The Hair Horns

All the years that I've been running Poison Ivy related websites I've had the pleasure of reading over countless fan email. I receive most of this email during the month of August and it continues on through Halloween.

The two most frequent email requests are how to make the leaf eyebrow masks that Uma Thurman wore in Batman and Robin. But also for suggestions regarding wig color and style. I will cover the eyebrow mask(s) in the coming weeks. For now -- let's talk hair. Specifically, Uma Thurman's second Poison Ivy wig.

The reason I am focusing on this style for Wig Session #01 is because it's dramatic and easily identifiable. Now, the wigs in the movie were pricey lace front wigs fit for the screen. That's out of reach for most people. However, at least two wig companies created ready made versions of the "horns" style.

UPDATE! As I was wandering the internet in a never ending pursuit for Poison Ivy fashioned goods I discovered this rather stunning wig reproduction. It is being offered by Cosplay Magic. The price is a bit steep but you're getting a wig that is going to require practically no customizing. The colors are perfect and the style and length ideal. To learn more about this wig go here: CosplayMagic.com. I tip my hat (or wig) to the stylist behind this beauty.

Highslide JSGarland Wigs did a fair interpretation. Behold item # CW220, better known as She-Devil. At least that is what the wig is referred to now -- my packaging uses the name Poison Ivy. Garland offered this wig in at least 19 colors or color combinations. The color(s) you see pictured here are "Red" with "Ginger Highlights", clearly a nod to the film.

I know what you're thinking, and yes those horns do look pitiful. It also doesn't help that the model is wearing the wig too low on her forehead. But this wig can be restyled to better replicate the film version. That's exactly what I did.

When this wig arrived I was mostly satisfied. The horns were a bit puny, the cap a bit shallow, but the basic style and color lived up to expectations. It's not as long as Uma's but it does hang to about elbow length. Still, a slight do-over was in order.

I unwrapped the hair horns and placed down small cone shaped Styrofoam bases. I then wrapped the hair around the bases. A bit of steam and hairspray allowed for secured hair placement. I would suggest masking the Styrofoam cones with red paint (or cover with paper). Otherwise the foam color will show through if not careful.

Something else to keep in mind, in the film Uma's hair was completely pulled back. But in the studio pictures she has a side part (swoop) that hangs to the side of her face. The side part is a great way to mask part of the wig line.

The other available wig in this style is by Lacey Wigs, and it's called "Poison IV" (Ivy). I've seen this wig up-close and it's good quality. I'm not a huge fan of the way the front hairline is styled. A bit poofy for my tastes but that can be remedied with some time and determination. The only other drawback is the color. It's a very deep burgundy to the point of appearing dark brown. If "user friendly" is priority then this wig is a good choice. It easily goes from the bag to out on the town in minutes.

Of course, there's always the option of completely creating this style on your own. All you'd need is a long red wig (no short bangs) and a few days to style. Good luck!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Poison Ivy's Tangled Train

So...guess who had their own roller coaster for a time? Yes, that would be Poison Ivy.

Six Flags New England (Agawam, Massachusetts) hosted the Batman themed coaster "Poison Ivy's Tangled Train" for about six years. Although the name of this ride was misprinted as "Poison Ivy's Twisted Train" on the official park map for years.

The coaster is a single train with 20 cars. Each car seats two across as you wind through a double figure eight track. The color scheme was a bright lime green and an earthy plum purple.

It would seem that the amusement park allowed for fast growing vines (creepers) to wander about this area. A mostly lush environment for the riders to zip around.

The were only a few things at the park to indicate this ride was related to the Poison Ivy character. The large overhead sign above the entrance and the occasional ground level sign surrounding the roller coaster.

A single image of Poison Ivy in a crouched position surrounded by tangled vines promotes the ride. This Poison Ivy is based on a modern age design but before the green skin transformation. She has a Brian Apthorp flair (similar to the interior art for "Batman: Poison Ivy"). So we're talking mid to late 90s fierceness. Six Flags also used the DC Comics official "Poison Ivy" logo that first appeared in 1997.

As fate would have it (and what a cruel fate) Poison Ivy's Tangled Train would be renamed to "Catwoman's Whip" in 2007. With a Jim Balent purple suit era Catwoman aesthetic no less. Around this time Six Flags was near bankruptcy and selling off various parks. One could assume giving Poison Ivy her exit cue was part of the "revamping" process.

(Photos 1 and 2 by Ric Turner www.rcdb.com)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Salvation Run

The Salvation Run seven issue mini-series ran from late 2007 and into 2008. It coincided with the DC Comics Final Crisis story arc.

In this particular venture the villains of earth are rounded up by the Suicide Squad and boom-tubed (teleported) to a distant planet called Salvation (a.k.a. Cygnus 4019). Salvation was thought to be deserted but it turns out that it's a training planet for the New Gods of Apokolips.

The villains split into two camps; Lex Luthor takes charge of one while the other is claimed by the Joker. It's the most bitter of rivalries. There are many casualties to be seen. I can't quite figure out why the Brotherhood of Evil took so many hits. Plasmus, Monsieur Mallah, and the Brain all died on Salvation. (Monsieur Mallah suffered a horrific beating by Gorilla Grodd with the Brain's housing.) For a more detailed synopsis check out the Wikipedia entry for Salvation Run.

From what I can see Poison Ivy appears to have sided with the Joker's team. And that leads me to the whole point of this blog post. Poison Ivy appears in only TWO places during this entire series. The cover for the collected series (TPB) and page 2 of issue #5.

Now, it's not that her meager role is a problem. But for some reason I thought she'd have more to do -- and this is just based on what I've read about the series. I suppose that "featured villains" blurb on Wikipedia threw me for a loop. I'm not suggesting that Salvation Run is not worth the while. (It is certainly a lot of fun.) But don't expect Poison Ivy to get much face time. That's regrettable because the art is rather good. Check it out when you can.

Batman: Widening Gyre #1

Poison Ivy appears on the cover for Batman: Widening Gyre #1 but I have no idea if she appears in the book. I will update this post the moment I have time to pick up issue #1.

Widening Gyre is a 6 part mini series helmed by Kevin Smith. The official DC promo reads as:

Written by Kevin Smith; Art by Walter Flanagan and Art Thibert; Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

Once again, Kevin Smith – the fan-favorite creator behind GREEN ARROW and Daredevil – teams up with Walter Flanagan – the artist on the acclaimed series BATMAN: CACOPHONY – for an all-new adventure starring The Caped Crusader. The stakes are high as Batman encounters a new vigilante under his wing amidst what Smith describes as a "backdrop of romance, intrigue, and geek-bait guest stars galore." Trust us when we say that it's as awesome as it sounds. BATMAN: WIDENING GYRE is just the start of things for Kevin in the Bat-Universe so get on board now!

August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deadly Garden: Banner 8/6/09

As you've probably noticed, there's a new banner for the blog. The original banner was more or less a place holder until I could come up with something unique. My style is...well I don't know how I would self identify. I prefer a pin-up style; gorgeous and glamorous depictions of people and life. Poison Ivy is an ideal candidate for such a thing. Her coloring and shape (including the spiraling hair and vines) lend themselves to fantasy and beauty.

My original concept was fairly cliched. Poison Ivy casting lusty gazes while surrounded by lively plants. And you know what? It works. That's why it's been done hundreds of times. Below is my original sketch for this piece. I'm fairly no nonsense (and often broke) so I just doodled this on a page in an old sketchbook.

I tend to not follow rules when it comes to inking. In fact, this time around I used nothing more than a simple Bic ball point pen. It's easy to push/pull a line in any direction without a lot of mess. I also don't do a lot of crosshatching. I'm not good at it so I rarely bother. However, it does leave the inked image looking a bit "coloring book-ish" in appearance. Pretty though.

When coloring images I like to mix a slightly airbrushed effect with a mostly flat background. I've figured that if everything is eye-popping sparkly you run the danger of treading into Lisa Frank territory. So the more detailed surfaces and colors go to the focal point. I prefer a more sallow skin tone for Poison Ivy rather than the She-Hulk green that is often used. There is such a thing as too much green (even in this instance). To push the image further I decided to go with colored ink lines instead of the standard black. It really makes things pop. I recently learned a new Photoshop technique to do that very thing. I had been doing it the hard way -- but this new process is so much easier.

And there you have it. My little effort to bring beauty to this neck of the woods (pun intended). I really do enjoy drawing -- especially this character. So we'll see what the future holds. FYI by clicking on those images you can see larger versions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dustin Nguyen

I've been familiar with the art of Dustin Nguyen for some time -- most notably his comic book covers. He was the featured artist for Detective Comics before moving over to Batman: Streets of Gotham with Paul Dini.

I happened upon his blog when following a link (from a link from a link). While there I decided to view all of his Poison Ivy art pieces. I found quite a few nice offerings. Traditional art pieces as well as more stylistic and cartoonish renderings.

His techniques are varied. Dustin uses a mixture of pens, pencils, watercolors (his signature) and the occasional program like Photoshop. A nice mixture of old and new. Though he doesn't overuse the software (thankfully) so his art retains an illustrative feel.

Dustin's Poison Ivy is a simple girl. She's often seen wearing nothing more than a leaf leotard. Perhaps the occasional pair of tights and boots. Sometimes no fuss is the way to go. Be sure to check out his SDCC 2009 print too. It features Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn on street bikes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DC Direct 13" Poison Ivy

As we all know (or should) the San Diego Comic Con is taking place this weekend. One of the functions of Comic Con is to introduce new lines of comic book related collectible items.

If you look to the left you will see a soon-to-be released 13" Poison Ivy action figure. (Image from Action Figure Insider) This is being offered by DC Direct and it's part of DC Direct's 1:6 scale line of characters.

I have mixed feelings about this creation overall. The face sculpt is quite pretty but it's a bit too cherubic (round and sweet faced) for my liking. The wavy hair is Jim Lee esque in some ways and the green skin tone is good. However, the costume is a fright. I'm really not sure what the design concept is supposed to be here. It's like an amalgam of a few different costumes over the years -- namely Uma Thurman's Batman and Robin wardrobe. There's a certain Moulin Rouge/bordello aesthetic that reads as busy and cheap. I lay most of that blame on the flouncy thigh-highs. Nobody in their right mind wears boots AND thigh-high stockings.

Also, I don't get the odd multicolor graphic aspect to the lower part of the leotard. I'm sure this was a strategic move to hide the assemblage of the figure. There's no way you can have a high cut leotard and not show the leg joints. Hopefully this is corrected in the final product because it completely interrupts the flow of the costume. All that aside, this would make a fantastic base for customizing purposes.

If you want something with a bit more glam I'd suggest this: Tonner's Deluxe Poison Ivy. For better pictures of the DC Direct 13" Poison Ivy (a face close-up too) go here: Sideshow Collector's Forum.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Batman

When "The Batman" premiered in 2004, it had been approximately five years since the Batman character headlined a cartoon. This venture would introduce a new Gotham City; a clean break from the Bruce Timm universe.

Jeff Matsuda was given the task of redesigning the characters of Gotham. The Batman was markedly different in style but also tone. It seemed that Kids WB preferred a more user friendly offering. Meaning, more action and less drama.

Poison Ivy did not appear in this series until the third season. It was in the two-part story "Batgirl Begins" that a new Pamela Isley would meet the animated world. But this bad seed was not like the others. The Batman took pride in straying from a strict continuity. Poison Ivy was written as an eco-minded teen-aged girl and best friend to Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl). Yes, I know, weird. But when taken as an Elseworlds type story it works.

The origin of this character is a rather fun ride. Poison Ivy acquires her powers in a "Marvel-esque" fashion; a freak accident. While trying to bring down the "Chrolo Gene" corporation Pamela is buried under a type of super mulch. She is rescued by Batman and while being transported to the hospital her telekinetic plant powers come to life. Giant plant roots and branches spirit her unconscious body away to a hidden garden. It is there she arises from a plant cocoon and discovers her new found abilities.

I absolutely must give the animators of The Batman applause for creating some beautiful plant designs. The way these creatures move about, with Ivy in tow, is a wonderful sight. Such fascinating beasts; from the monstrous fly traps to the banzai tree soldiers. Poison Ivy is also quite lovely. She wears a strapless leaf dress and no shoes. The sallow complexion is offset by flaming red hair that coils into a rose like coiffure. I believe artist Jose Lopez aided in this design.

Voice actress Pierra Coppola was hired to do the voice of Poison Ivy. I'll admit that Coppola's voice took a while to grow on me (pun intended). At first I thought I was just biased towards Diane Pershing. In actuality it was the campy dialogue that was turning me off (of which there is plenty). I've never been a huge fan of the campy "Don't fool with Mother Nature!" posturing. It's right up there with Schwarzenegger's cringe worthy "The Iceman cometh!" (ack).

A new Harley Quinn also arrived in both the television and comic book formats. But Harley and Ivy would only conspire on paper. In a reversal of roles, Harley Quinn was often seen guiding a blossoming Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy would appear in six total episodes; four story lines, and three starring roles. The Batman was canceled in 2008 after five seasons. The comic book counterpart to this series "The Batman Strikes!" would also end that same year.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Poison Ivy Leaf Eyebrow Masks (A Tutorial)

I've received hundreds of emails with questions regarding this particular costume accessory. Can it be bought? As far as I know there was not a stand alone replica of this mask for retail purchase. Trust me, I've looked. The only thing released was a sequined eye mask made to resemble Poison Ivy's eyebrow prosthetics. That unfortunate creation came packaged with the officially licensed Poison Ivy costume from Batman and Robin. That would simply never do for costume enthusiasts, so most people made their own. This tutorial is very much a do-it-yourself project and it will cost you practically nothing.

I've created a template that can be printed out at home; it's no larger than a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. It's available in three different formats:

Low Resolution 72 dpi (jpeg)
High Resolution 200 dpi (jpeg)
Adobe .PDF

These are all available for download. Just right click and save or print out through the browser interface.

Supply ListThis is a list of some basic materials needed for this particular project. You may or may not end up using a few of these items. I also suggest a spray bottle (mister) for keeping your paints wet and some toothpicks for aid in precision gluing. FYI the foam sheets are available in various shades of green. The palette of colors depends on the brand you choose. I chose the basic green by "Funky Foam". It's somewhere in between the Kelly Green and the Lime Green. These foam sheets can be found at craft stores like Micheal's or Hobby Lobby.

Step 11. Begin by printing out the template (preferably on a heavier weight paper or tag board). After cutting the shapes from the paper you should have four pieces total. If you are doing both halves at the same time then you would have eight pieces. Place the cut pieces on top of the foam and trace around them. Once the tracing is done place the paper pieces aside. These can be reused if necessary. Before cutting, make sure the scissors are decent quality and sharp. Trust me it makes things easier. Start cutting and take your time.

Step 22. By now you should have your foam pieces cut out and ready to assemble. However, before the gluing process I do an additional step. If you look at the foam mask pieces you'll notice they have a slight "cookie cutter punch" appearance around the edges. (See pic) To get rid of this I take my scissors and carefully trim away the sharp edge. You're basically creating a more organic bevel effect. But only on one side; the edge that faces forward. Be mindful of this because you want the back of the mask to be flat. Same goes for the detail leaf pieces. Consider practicing on scraps before moving on to the mask. The edges don't have to be perfectly beveled and smooth. Leaves on the official mask have a curled and wrinkled appearance. I finish off the foam preparation step by running an Emory board (nail file) over the bevel.

Step 33. The gluing process can be a bit tricky. A lot of that depends on how you want to adhere these pieces together. I prefer to use high temperature hot glue because the bond is quite strong. Place and glue the leaves based on the diagram. When doing this just be mindful of where the glue is applied. Keep it mostly centered on each piece and do not glue past where the leaves extend beyond the base. Otherwise there will be globs of glue showing on the back side of the decorative leaves. Once cooled, slightly bow and flex the mask. This is to see if any of the edges stand up or out. If so, just take a toothpick and dip it into some hot glue, then slide it under the loose edges. Also, you will get a better bond if you press the pieces together while they are cooling. Consider using the scraps for practice purposes before this step. For the less adventurous or skillful a glue like Arleen's may suffice.

Step 44. The painting step is what really makes this mask pop. I don't have any brilliant suggestions for novices. But I figure, if you can paint your nails, you can't paint craft foam. Acrylic paint is best. I usually squirt a small amount onto a plate (why bother with a palette). I also keep water on hand to dilute the paint as needed (aim for a consistency just above water colors). I usually start with the darker green paint and begin to shadow the valleys of the mask in layers. Often times no highlighting is necessary. The last thing I do is add the veins. The painting process is open to interpretation. Add more paint (or less) or none at all. Acrylic paint dries fast and shouldn't crack. I've kept my completed example fairly matte. But if you want more of a pearlescent sheen there are pearl and metallic acrylic paints available. If you feel the need, add some jewels or glitter for extra sparkle.

Step 55. The mask(s) are ready to wear. There's a couple of different ways to adhere these to the face. Eyelash glue is a lightweight option but not the most secure. Prosthetic adhesive may work. But I have always suggested the use of spirit gum. It's inexpensive and long lasting. But before we get into the spirit gum adhesion -- let's talk eyebrows. You likely have them (and want to keep them) so they need to be covered up. Why? Because any adhesive you apply to the brow area will stick and pull out hair if the area is not prepped/blocked out. I've used Kryolan's Eyebrow Plastic. It's applied like heavy duty chap stick over the eyebrows then smoothed with a finger. Once this is done you apply the spirit gum to the back of the mask (avoid the ends of the leaves). Let it dry for about 45 seconds and then tap it with your finger to make it super tacky. Place the mask in the correct position and hold in place. The holding may take a while to get a sure bond but once dry they will remain.

Some things to keep in mind: Play with the positioning of the masks before gluing to the skin. This will aid in knowing where to apply the adhesive on the back of the mask. These do travel up near and sometimes into the hairline. You don't want to end up with spirit gum in your hair or wig unnecessarily.

If at all possible put your makeup on after these are applied. Too much foundation or powder (etc) will inhibit the bond if done beforehand.

To remove the masks, use spirit gum remover. Chances are that you can buy this at the very place you bought the spirit gum. Use a Q-tip and work the liquid behind the mask. The gum will dissolve and you can reuse the mask if wanted. Rubbing alcohol will do. Or you can just rip it off like a band aid and perhaps suffer the consequences.

And finally...if you are wearing these out and plan on drinking an "adult" beverage -- do remember that alcohol will break down the spirit gum bond faster (through perspiration). You may end up with an eyebrow mask in your fancy drink if not careful.

Addendum: I've begun to find masks (online) that were created by using this tutorial. Great! I'm more than happy to feature any person interested in sharing their efforts. Be proud, be green!

Gotham City Sirens #2 (Preview)

Once again, DC Comics is providing a hearty preview of the upcoming issue of Gotham City Sirens.

Featured are the final cover and seven preview pages. I liked what was offered -- a restrained (and snarky!) Catwoman is still being grilled by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Will she crack and reveal Batman's true identity? Buy Gotham City Sirens #2 and find out!

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about Poison Ivy's new orange lips. Apparently, she switched lipsticks while brow beating or the colorist slipped up.

Written by Paul Dini ; Art and Cover by Guillem March

Tommy Elliott, a.k.a. the villainous mastermind known as Hush, has escaped the confines of Batman's headquarters and is wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City all under the guise of Bruce Wayne. Will the loose assemblage of Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn be enough to stop the madman's rampage? Or are Gotham's femmes fatales doomed to fail before they even begin?

On Sale July 22, 2009

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