SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #43 by Tom King, Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus, on sale now.
Whenever a super-villain takes over the world, they always say they mean well, right? In the finale to "Everyone Loves Ivy," though, the villain in question might really mean it. Poison Ivy has taken control of the world's population via humanity's consumption of vegetation, but her comparatively benign actions show that she's far from the typical power-hungry megalomaniac.
Written by Tom King and drawn by Mikel Janin with an assist from Hugo Petrus, Batman #43 explores Ivy's mindset, which is revealed to go beyond her self-professed altruistic motives for the worldwide takeover. Ivy, in fact, demonstrates that she might not even be a true super-villain at all, but rather a lost soul who simply needs help.
Everyone Loves Ivy... Except Ivy
Previously, Ivy cited her world-changing orchestration as one that demonstrated her total control. Not of the world, but rather herself, after being manipulated by The Riddler years earlier in "The War of Jokes and Riddles." The experience played a large part in shaping Ivy's view that the world is hurt and broken, with her previous role playing a part in it, leaving her very, very hurt.
Collectively, Bruce and Selina try to convince Ivy that she needs help to deal with her pain. Like many who suffer emotional trauma, though, Ivy is clearly in denial of her own, defending her actions and deflecting any attempts at intervention. Ivy also tries to deny her other emotions – most notably her largely unaddressed feelings for her frequent collaborator, Harley Quinn who, in fact, ends up playing a key role in freeing the world from Ivy's control.
Ivy shows a kind of self-loathing that's rooted in her younger days as The Riddler's pawn. Clearly in need of psychological intervention, Ivy finds herself tag teamed by Bruce and Selina, who attempt to make her understand her own mindset. Neither Bruce nor Selina have a PhD in psychology, but Harley does, and the pair have a plan to enlist Harley's aid.
The Doctor Is In
First, though, Harley herself needs to be freed, and a surprise attack on Ivy by Selina enables this to happen. With her free will restored, Harley confronts Ivy, who continues to mask her pain behind her continuous pretext that she's saving the world from itself. As Bruce had noted earlier, he conceded her noble intent, but added that her methods were driven by her emotional pain. Harley is able to bring this point home, but Batman punctuates it with a surprising revelation. That revelation? That the murders Ivy holds herself responsible for during "The War of Jokes and Riddles" were committed by The Riddler himself, not Ivy.
Yes, The Riddler not only murdered five people, but convinced the young and impressionable Ivy that she had done it. As Batman himself states, that's one common trait among villains – they lie. Batman further consoles Ivy by adding, "Maybe you didn't understand this, not because you were weak or young, but because you're not a villain."