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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