You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!
Rosie Knight just explained to us why Gotham City was wrecked in an Earthquake, and what happened to its residents as a result – including the news that apparently something major happened to Poison Ivy? There was only one person for us to turn to for help: Sara Century, please explain!
Poison Ivy apparently went through a big change as part of No Man’s Land. What happened to her during that storyline?
Sara Century: Right, so of course No Man’s Land was this big story arc for the Batbooks in which Gotham was ravaged by an earthquake and cut off from the rest of the U.S. The Poison Ivy part of that arc was “Fruit of the Earth,” which took place in Shadow of the Bat #88, Batman #568 and Detective Comics #735. Ivy took over a city park and made it into a fortress of dense, impenetrable plant life. She took in orphaned children and protected them until Clayface imprisoned her and attempted to enslave the orphans. Batman helps her, and she disposes of Clayface in a suitably brutal fashion. He disapproves, but she makes it clear that not only had Clayface done terrible things to her, but the children also need her to survive. Batman allows her to continue on as she had before, so this isn’t just a difference in approach for Ivy. For one of the first times ever, Batman actually allows himself to see things from Ivy’s perspective, which is a big step forward for him.
Am I right in thinking that this was the start of a modern-day reinvention for Ivy? How important was this for her?
Century: In my experience with the character, I discovered her years before via Batman: TAS, and I remember always empathizing with her. So I think No Man’s Land did kick off more sympathetic Ivy stories in the comics, but also that the vibe was already there. There was that Secret Origins story by Gaiman that dove into her time in Arkham. There was also a one-shot called Batman: Poison Ivy around the same time Batman & Robin (the film) was released that showed her creating complicated plant species that lived and moved like mammals. Those stories still villainized her but at least they gave her room to state her case.
Later, her maternal interests did become more prominent in stories like Cycle of Life and Death, and that certainly at the very least calls back to what we saw of her in NML. I think we would have gotten a more nuanced Ivy eventually without No Man’s Land, but there’s no questioning that it was a catalyst for pushing her character forward.
Right after No Man’s Land finishes, she meets up with someone called “Harley Quinn” for the first time. Tell me all about their relationship…? Just gals being gals?
Well, more than anything, what I would say brought her into the limelight for modern audiences were the episodes of TAS that teamed her up with Harley. They are such a brilliant combo and they bring out so much in each other. It’s that synergy, much more than Harley with the Joker or Ivy as a tired femme fatale schtick, that pushed both of those characters forward. Though they are villains when they meet, it’s pretty difficult to completely villainize a woman who’s trying to help her friend recover from abuse at the hands of her murder clown boyfriend, and then Harley doesn’t seem so frivolous and flighty with a passionate environmentalist like Ivy by her side.
For a while, their relationship was played as “gals being pals,” but when I look back and I’m actually surprised how blatant their attraction to each other is even in the beginning. When they finally do hook up in the comics, it’s pretty much just Harley going, “aren’t you tired of pretending this isn’t a thing?” So, definitely gals, but never just pals! For me, these two are each other’s Ride & Thrives.
Thank you Sara! This Harley Quinn sounds interesting. I wonder if it’s worth us exploring more about the character?
Sara Century is an artist, writer, and filmmaker, among other things. She’s the co-founder of the Queer Spec publishing company and its anthology Decoded Pride as well as being a cohost of the podcast Bitches On Comics. Check her website for more or follow her on Twitter here!