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

Monday, July 13, 2009

Episode Synopsis & Review: "Pretty Poison"

Pretty Poison
Original Airdate: September 14th, 1992
Season 01, Episode #005

Harvey Dent builds his dream penitentiary for Gotham City with funds donated by Wayne Enterprises. But, it comes at the expense of a rare bloom; much to the chagrin of a certain Pamela Isley.

Years later, after a game of seduction, Pamela enacts her revenge on Harvey by planting a poison kiss on his lips. Harvey is left for dead but is rescued by his friend Bruce Wayne.

Batman later learns it was Pamela who poisoned Harvey and pays her a visit. While at Ms. Isley's greenhouse Batman battles a few plant-beasts before Pamela steps into the light. At this point, she reveals herself as Poison Ivy and explains her motivations. A greenhouse chase ensues, a fire quickly spreads, and Poison Ivy is captured. This episode closes out with a defiant Poison Ivy, sitting in Arkham Asylum, plotting her return.

Ah yes, Pretty Poison. This was Pamela Isley's introduction to Gotham City and the DC Animated Universe. I'd say for the discriminating Bat-fan this episode is average at best. Pretty Poison is a bit simple and lags a bit until the third act. But, for die-hard Poison Ivy fans this was a treat. The fight between Batman and Poison Ivy is a wonder to behold. It's a finessed tug of war and I can't help but swoon during these greenhouse romps.

Poison Ivy looks quite beautiful thanks to Sunrise animation. Although, Bruce Timm has commented a few times that Sunrise always drew Poison Ivy off model (incorrectly). Diane Pershing's voice acting is also on point. I love the maniacal laugh. The music is also fantastic; I adore the piece that Ivy plays as she strips out of her gardening clothes and into something...more comfortable.

Oddly enough, the one thing this episode is often reputed for is the physicality of the man-eating plant. Some people think it resembles a certain part of the female anatomy (with teeth no less). Bruce Timm claims that the original design for the plant creature looked more like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. Either way, it's a ferocious thing of nature (and I'll just leave it at that).

Overall, it's a good but not great effort. The visuals make up for a lackluster "origin" story.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fruit of the Earth: The Costume That Never Was

In the late Summer of 1999 the "No Man's Land" saga was coming to an end. While looking after the orphans of Robinson Park a distracted Poison Ivy was captured by Clayface. For six months she was held prisoner in an underground cave; deprived of sunlight and water. Clayface forced her to grow crops for a devastated Gotham City and the children were also forced into this slave labor scheme.

Eventually Batman and Robin arrive on the scene to save Ivy and her brood. They tear the place apart and as it floods Poison Ivy swims into the sunlight. Now revived she regains her powers and commands the plants below to wrap themselves around her body; forming the costume in question.

I'm about to speculate so don't quote me. The penciling artist for the "Fruit of the Earth" three part story was Dan Jurgens. With Bill Sienkiewicz on ink duty. I suppose you could say that it was Jurgens who decided to change Poison Ivy's costume for this arc. Whether or not he intended for this design to become a lasting part of continuity is up for debate.

The costume is comprised of dark thorny vines that are wrapped like bandages over her entire body (as if wearing a catsuit). Spiked leaves are found at mid-elbow and mid-calf suggesting trim on gloves and boots. This same detail can be found around the neck. A rather large pink hued flower blooms on the upper chest like a broach. It's a rather charming way to add femininity to an otherwise forbidding outfit.

In some ways this costume could be seen as a metaphor; wanting to feel covered and safe after being tormented by the (wrong) elements. The entire scene involving the creation of this garb, just before Poison Ivy lays the smack down on Clayface, is just awesome to behold.

If you're wondering why I used the expression, "The Costume That Never Was", it's because after Detective Comics #735 the Jurgens creation practically ceased to exist. The same year this story played out, DC Comics released Batman: No Man's Land Secret Files #1. On page 49 you will find Poison Ivy's profile page and she is wearing this costume. Beautifully illustrated by the team of Guichet and Sowd (of course). This same drawing appears in a 2001 Batman Stickerbook.

The only other official appearance I can recall is in JLA: Justice League of Arkham (March 2001). It was a rather goofy one-shot; at least the cover was good. Poison Ivy is lovingly referred to as the Chlorophyl Queen during roll call.

And finally, the September 2000 issue of "Adventures of Superman, #582" features a costume that is quite similar to the Fruit of the Earth catsuit. Poison Ivy is second in command of an alternate reality JLA comprised of villains. Bizarro is the leader of this gathering.

I hope that other artists are willing to take such bold risks. Beyond Jurgen's effort, Poison Ivy's costume has rarely changed. The last time there was any new precedent was during Jim Lee's "Hush"; that design has now become the standard.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How To Draw Batman : Poison Ivy (Page Scan)

I bought this book years ago; however, I can't remember where. It's titled "How To Draw Batman", and published by Walter Foster (sometimes credited to Titan Books).

While flipping through the rather large pages (12 x 16 inches) I found a rather quaint looking one page demonstration on how to draw the Timm style Poison Ivy. So, of course I had to own this book. It also features guides for almost every main character on Batman: The Animated Series. Though, I must say, I find it odd that this came out in February of 1998. "The New Batman Adventures" had already premiered six months prior (along with the redesigned characters). But, even now there still exists an affection for the BTAS era that can't be denied.

Join professional comic book artist Ty Templeton as he reveals the secrets of how to draw Batman like a pro!

Inside you'll find in-depth guides that take you through the process of comic book figure drawing, from rough sketch to finished illustration, as well as basic drawing techniques such as foreshortening, perspective, drawing through, and more!

In addition to Batman, you'll also learn how to draw Robin, Batgirl, The Joker, Catwoman, and many other friends and foes of the Dark Knight. And, with helpful tips for rendering the Batmobile, Batcave, and other Gotham City locations, you'll be creating impressive Batman action scenes in no time!

So grab your art supplies and get going!

Ty Templeton wrote and illustrated this venture. If the name sounds familiar it's because he often worked on animated/comic titles such as Batman Adventures and other DC Comics properties. I'm sure copies of this book are still floating around.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Absolute Justice (Dustcover Preview)

The Source has released a preview image of the dustjacket for the collected "Justice" mini-series. Poison Ivy is up there in the distance - with spinach leaf swimcap in tow. It's a beautiful cover and everyone is sooo serious. Except the Joker...of course. Clayface seems to be mocking Black Canary as well.
Written by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger; Art by Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite; Cover by Alex Ross

The spectactular 12-issue series by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite is collected in this amazing, oversized, slipcased Absolute edition. The members of the Justice League of America are about to learn they aren't the only ones who can band together toward a common goal. The greatest criminal masterminds of our time appear to be acting in concert — but with a surprising plan that seeks to achieve more good than the JLA ever could!

This Absolute edition features a new cover by Ross, plus sketchbook a section with previously unseen artwork and more!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Justice League: Cry For Justice #1

Highslide JSI hope you enjoy the cover art for Justice League: Cry For Justice #1 because it's the only place Poison Ivy appears (in this first issue).

The promotional image for this title was done by Mauro Cascioli. Two covers were produced by splitting the original artwork; Poison Ivy appears on the alternate offering.

I'm wondering if Cascioli used a few live-action films as references for this piece. Lex Luthor bears an uncanny resemblance to Kevin Spacey while Poison Ivy is giving some serious Uma Thurman face. (With a smidge of Julianne Moore.) Either way I do enjoy this illustrative style.

If you aren't familiar with this mini-series here's the official DC Comics description of this inaugural issue:
Written by James Robinson; Art and covers Mauro Cascioli

What brings a team together? Justice! Batman and Martian Manhunter have been slaughtered. But he's not the only hero to fall at the hands of villains. The murder has to stop, and it's time to take the fight to the bad guys! Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Supergirl, Atom, Shazam, Congorilla and Starman unite in a cry for justice!

This 6-part miniseries from James Robinson (STARMAN, SUPERMAN) and rising star artist Mauro Cascioli (TRIALS OF SHAZAM) pushes our heroes to the brink and beyond as evil can no longer be tolerated to win. But when Prometheus plans his revenge on not only the heroes, but on the very places they call home, will this new team be ready to pay the cost for the justice they seek? This time it's personal – and it'll only get more bloody before it's over!

On Sale July 1, 2009

I've read the issue and I did enjoy it despite the lack of you-know-who. The lush interiors create a rather dramatic feel (and there's plenty of drama). Green Lantern mentions Libra (uh oh) and his "Secret Society"; I'm assuming this will turn into a Superfriends like showdown between the teams. I so love that.

UPDATE: Poison Ivy never appears in this mini-series beyond this one cover. While not a terrible story I do feel duped and, frankly, confused.

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