Gotham, and the rest of the world, is going green, but that's not a good thing – for the world of Batman, that is. But it sure is beautiful, as told by Tom King, Mikel Janín and June Chung in Batman #41. Part one of "Everyone Loves Ivy" features Ivy -- Poison Ivy, naturally -- making an atypically bold move that extends far beyond her home garden. As usual, King continues to outdo himself, delivering a story that continuously surprises. Also as usual, Janín's turn on the art duties yields a hauntingly picturesque issue, thanks in no small part to Chung's lush palette for the appropriately lush scenery.
The latter is exactly what readers are treated to first, in fact. Janín and Chung's attractively eye-catching and enticing cover is inviting, and representative of what's to be found inside. On the splash page, Ivy deceivingly appears non-threatening, welcoming anyone and everyone to her figurative garden. On the second page, though, King already begins to dismantle this idyllic setting, reminding all that the first half of Ivy's name, after all, is Poison. From there, King unfolds the story at his usual superbly crafted pace, as Bruce Wayne begins to discover the nature of Ivy's latest threat.
Rarely exceeding five panels per page, Janín's layouts skillfully support King's meticulous pacing. In return, King's efficiently scripted dialogue makes a short workday for letter Clayton Cowles, and leaves Janín's panels uncluttered. King again demonstrates his talents as an artist's writer, allowing Janín's panel structure to show the story as much, if not more, than King's own script tells it. There aren't any long diatribes, or unnecessarily complex layouts -- they simply aren't needed. The carefully crafted synergy between Janín and King appears effortless.
While Bruce never dons the cowl in this issue -- he never even leaves Wayne Manor, in fact -- King doesn't forget that he has the whole DC Universe at his disposal. It's a trick that King always uses effectively, to the point where Superman almost feels like one of the title's supporting characters. Despite the mostly insular setting, though, King's story proves to be global in scope, giving him plausible reason to throw in a cameo or two from some other notable players.
It's a fun ploy that's anything but gratuitous. The story rightfully calls for some guests, so King doesn't hesitate to use them. It doesn't hurt that this usage gives Janín an all-too-tempting excuse to construct a detailed two-page spread that will have fans taking a moment to scrutinize. And what fun it is to do so.
With every story arc, King has not only grown the character of Batman, but elevated the kind of quality storytelling that readers have come to expect every issue -- and done so twice a month, no less. Fans who have told themselves that he could couldn't possibly top himself have repeatedly been proven wrong. "Everyone Loves Ivy" is the latest arc in this admirable pattern, and part two is already eagerly anticipated in Batman #42, on sale March 7.