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,'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: 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

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.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes