Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The New Batman Adventures

After a long two years the WB network premiered "The New Batman Adventures" to the world in 1997. (This show is also referred to as "Batman Gotham Knights".) But this wasn't simply a rehash of BTAS -- the overall tone had changed. It appeared to be more action oriented -- the fight scenes more outrageous. The daytime sky was a permanent blood red. But the most obvious change was the update in character design. I would say that most of the cast appeared as they had before but with less detail and a few changes in color schemes.

The two villains who changed most dramatically were the Scarecrow...and Poison Ivy. The Springtime greens of the original Ivy's costume were replaced with a wicked black theme. The hair color remained a brilliant red but the new green(ish) skin took many by surprise. This change split Ivy fans into three camps. Those who loved it, those who hated it, and those who eventually got used to the green. I was in the third camp. I was hesitant to receive this new Ivy but now I can't imagine her not being a part of Poison Ivy history. Also (and thankfully) Diane returned to voice Poison Ivy. Though I must say...I think she cut back on the "sex appeal" this time around.

I've heard various reasons as to why things were switched up in such a way. Some whisper that FOX held certain rights to the specific designs of Batman: The Animated Series. So in order to carry these characters over to the (now defunct) WB they needed to be reinvented. While others claim that it would have been foolish to not try something new. Timm has gone on record as saying that the original BTAS Poison Ivy was drawn incorrectly by the overseas animators. Apparently she was always supposed to be pixie-like in nature as opposed to the BTAS buxom bombshell. This was his opportunity to correct her overly curvy proportions. To perfect this version of Poison Ivy Timm sought out the skills of artist Shane Glines. A brilliant idea. Glines is renowned for his stylized and gorgeous drawings of the female form.

This was the second venture for an animated Batman series with a Timm aesthetic and sadly the last. The New Batman Adventures was cancelled in 2000. However, the animated Ivy would continue to live on in Gotham Girls webtoons and in the pages of various DC Comics with animated designs.

Out of the 24 episode run of TNBA Poison Ivy appears in only three episodes. That may seem like a small number but comparatively speaking that is about the same percentage of BTAS (85 episodes) appearances. Though, she is only given one spotlight episode. Regardless, we were given a few more episodes to feature a favorite villain -- and another version of Poison Ivy to love.

In early 2003, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (surprisingly) appeared on the cartoon Static Shock. The episode was titled "Hard as Nails" -- this would be the last true animated pairing of these two bad girls.

That same year, Poison Ivy would cameo in an episode of "Justice League" titled "A Better World Pt.2" -- and that's all folks!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Batman: The Animated Series

In the year 1992, Batman: The Animated Series premiered on the Fox network. The toon was received positively and so began a new era for Batman and the citizens of Gotham City.

The distinct stylings of Bruce Timm played a large part in this animated history. Timm wasn't new to animation -- but it's safe to say that BTAS put Bruce Timm's name (officially) on the map.

The look was simple yet distinct. With just a few strokes of a pen Timm would recreate the look and style of every single character in the Bat Universe. But most importantly those designs are what brought me to Poison Ivy for the first time.

I was watching BTAS and the episode "Pretty Poison" was being featured. I watched in awe as this plant-themed villainess moved across the screen. Who was this person? I was confused and also a bit annoyed. Mainly because I was hoping for a Catwoman appearance. But as the show progressed I found myself interested in the character. She was new to me and I liked her gimmick. The clingy greens, fiery red hair, and that voice! Could it be? Two bad girls in Gotham City? I immediately began seeking out DC Comics back issues featuring this enchanting woman. My love affair with Poison Ivy had begun...sorry Selina.

Aesthetically, I think the classic Bruce Timm rendered Poison Ivy is stunning. I am reminded of old Hollywood glamour. In the book "Batman Animated", Bruce Timm talks about how he approached artist Lynne Naylor to assist him in getting Ivy's look just right. If you wander over to Lynne's official site you can see her obvious influence over Ivy's final design. A lovely result. I appreciate the way the costume was handled as well. It would have been impossible to animate a leafy (intricate) one-piece garment. So the leaf details became a serration along the top bust line and at the sides of the leg holes. Basic green tights minus the vine trim. Gloves and boots with thorny accents. Perfect.

Batman: The Animated Series was not only revered for its art but also for the voice acting. Kevin Conroy was the perfect match for Batman. Diane Pershing as Poison Ivy -- brilliant! The voice Diane inflects for Ivy is sexy, confident, and smart. A perfect mix of passion and menace. In fact, I recognize Diane's voice in commericals all the time because I adore it so. I've heard stories about Diane Pershing not being the first choice for Ivy -- but the original voice actress didn't work out. Some things are meant to be!

After a successful run, Batman: The Animated Series was ended in the year 1995. However, we are left with at least seven episodes featuring Poison Ivy (in some capacity). Not to mention a rather mixed selection of Ivy related merchandise.

The following is a list featuring every episode that Poison Ivy made an appearance. Whether it was a starring role or a cameo. The titles with active links should take you to an episode summary.

Episode Guide

Pretty Poison

Eternal Youth

Fear of Victory

Dreams in Darkness

Almost Got 'Im

Joker's Wild

Harley & Ivy

Fire From Olympus

House and Garden


Harley's Holiday

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