Brilliant botanist turned botanical bombshell, Poison Ivy's roots run deep in the Batman Universe. Created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, the character made her 1966 debut in Batman #181 and was heavily inspired by pin-up model Bettie Page. Initially introduced without an origin story, her deadly nature is partially drawn from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a young girl who develops a resistance to poisons after tending her toxic garden. Since then, her past has been based in betrayal and fueled by a maternal obsession to protect nature from the brutality of mankind.
Walking a fine line between "bastion of Mother Nature and psycho Eco-terrorist," Poison Ivy has gone through countless redesigns and personality changes. Created as a simple seductress, the character blossomed into a force to be reckoned with. After her first comic-book debut, she has gone on to be featured in various self-titles series and story arcs. Though considered an independent villainess, she is a member the heroic Birds of Prey and the femme fatale group The Gotham City Sirens, and has been recently romantically linked with Harley Quinn. With numerous animated appearances in a variety of Batman-based television shows and films, the character has made live-action appearances in Batman & Robin and Gotham and is teased to be included in the work-in-progress Gotham City Sirens movie. Falling to her siren spell, CBR has desperately dug into Poison Ivy's rich history to bring you 15 facts about her deadliest features and abilities.
Poison Ivy's origin can be traced to Doctor Jason Woodrue. Seducing the timid Pamela Isley, Woodrue uses her as a guinea pig for his sinister experiments and subjects her to toxic injections. Despite surviving the deadly trauma, Isley becomes increasingly insane and begins to suffer violent mood swings. Angered by the betrayal, she takes on the persona of Poison Ivy and begins a life of crime in Gotham.
A version of her birth into villainy was portrayed in Batman & Robin with Uma Thurman starring as the under-appreciated lab assistant turned lethal vixen. During a tense argument, Woodrue seemingly kills Isley after pushing a shelf of deadly toxins onto her. In her resurrection as "Mother Nature" personified, Isley kills Woodrue with a fatal kiss.
In her transformation into a plant-human hybrid, Isley was given an immunity to every form of deadly toxin, virus, and bacteria. She's also one of few people invulnerable to Joker's laughing gas. With the ability to regulate her body's toxicity levels, her touch can poison her prey within an hour or mere seconds depending on her mood. In some variations of the character, only direct contact with her lips would be fatal.
Ivy's production of various toxins depend on what she seeks to gain from her victims. Most of these deadly concoctions control the mind, giving her victims vivid hallucinations or making them more susceptible to her influence. Others she uses as love potions to seduce corrupt businessmen or tease ignorant playboys.
Failing to trick the Birds of Prey into enacting her evil plans, Ivy decides to prey upon the impressionable mind of Clayface. In Detective Comics #15, she uses her powers of seduction to make the giant brute believe he is her deeply devoted husband.
Breaking him out of Arkham, the two proceed to get hitched in Las Vegas before appearing to unleash a reign of terror in several cities. When Ivy is taken hostage by Penguin's men and buried alive six feet underground, Clayface attacks Batman and demands to know where is wife is being held. Batman struggles to break the giant free from his lover's control, finally unleashing a special dose of herbicide that kills the seed Ivy implanted in him.
Along with using pheromones to put her prey under a love spell, Ivy uses her knowledge of plants to create truth serums. In Gotham City Sirens #1, she subjects Catwoman to a dose and asks her to reveal the identity of Batman. Trying to fight off the effects of the toxin, Catwoman recites a variety of names, including Bruce Wayne, to confuse Ivy and Harley.
Teasing them with bits of the truth, Catwoman states "there have been a legion of do-gooders who have put on the suit one time or another." Frustrated, Ivy releases Catwoman who reveals "Batman" is merely a title given by an elite society to a number of people over the years to bring justice to a corrupt city.
Poison Ivy maintains a powerful connection with nature due to chlorokinesis, the ability to manipulate all plant life. Her ability to control aspects of nature can come in the form of vine-like appendages to use as weapons during combat and plant avatars to interrogate and attack her enemies.
Much of her anger is fueled by her ability to sense and feel the emotions of nature, especially the torment felt by plants when ravaged by mankind's growing technological advances, which explains her determination to protect her "children" at all costs. This profound bond is similar to Swamp Thing in that they both feel the need to ensure the survival of "the Green." Seeing her as the ultimate personification of nature itself, he calls her "the May Queen."
While Poison Ivy is well-known for her green skin tone, some versions of the character have the ability to alter their pigment. Considering her alteration of skin tone to be as easy as "reducing the intensity of [her] poison," she is able to easily slip her way into society without being noticed.
In a Joker's Asylum arc featuring the botanical bombshell, she disguises herself as a working girl with a blond wig and pale skin tone to seduce a wealthy businessman who wants to bulldoze a plot of land to make way for luxury apartments. Once taken back to his place, she gives him a kiss that slowly begins to paralyze him. Revealing her true lethal form, she then proceeds to attack him with an axe.
Much like a flower withers without proper exposure, Poison Ivy is instantly weakened if deprived of natural sunlight for an extended period of time. In Gotham City Sirens #8, Ivy finds herself buried deep underground. Her shriveled corpse is found by Commissioner Gordon, who concludes it's too late to save her. Not giving up on her friend, Catwoman responds to Gordon's announcement of defeat by flinging Ivy's corpse into the nearest pool of water, instantly restoring her to her original state.
Ivy also relies on CO2, not oxygen, to breathe, which makes her harder to kill than an average human being. In instances when she's come into contact with fire, despite minor scrapes and bruises, she has managed to escape without passing out.
Before her transformation into a lethal beauty, Doctor Pamela Isley was a gifted scientist with a promising career. Her fascination with plants led to studying toxicology to make perfumes, make-up and medicines. This special interest turned into obsession when she took on the persona of Poison Ivy, leading her to develop ways of manipulating plants to do her bidding.
Despite her intelligence, Ivy's exposure to Woodrue's deadly toxins left her mind susceptible to psychotic breaks. Her past trauma led to a deeply rooted hatred for men and a willingness to destroy mankind to ensure nature's survival. Her extreme mood swings are influenced by Seasonal Affective Disorder, causing her to feel a particular way depending on the season.
Along with her plant-based powers, Ivy was also given superhuman abilities. Possessing three times the strength as a normal human and having the ability to withstand greater injury, she is able to last longer during combat. In a fight with Donna Troy, she remains unfazed after being kicked and thrown, and in one instance, survives being frozen by Supergirl.
In Batman: The Animated Series, Ivy's abilities are fairly limited but her knowledge of martial arts and training as a gymnast prove she can still hold her own in a fight. As a last resort, she equipped herself with a miniature self-reloading crossbow on her wrist.
Due to her altered DNA, Ivy possesses a hyperactive immune system, causing her to become infertile. In the animated episode "House and Garden," Ivy is shown to have seemingly renounced her villainous way and settled down to start a family with her doctor from Arkham Asylum. Batman is doubtful of her claim of innocence when a plant monster begins poisoning Gotham's elite.
Pamela's ideal home life is unraveled after the discovery that her family is actually plant / human hybrids grown from the doctor's DNA. Releasing weedkiller onto the monsters, Batman and Robin realize the real Ivy has long since escaped. At the end of the episode, Ivy is onboard a plane flipping through a scrapbook of her fake family, shedding tears over what could have been.
In Cycle of Life and Death, Ivy reclaims her identity as Pamela Isley and successfully manages to combine human and plant DNA to give birth to two "sporelings" named Rose and Hazel. Adopting the children, she begins to discover they possess unique powers of their own. When her research is stolen, she happens upon another "sporeling" named Thorn who has the ability to turn flesh into plants.
In Issue #5, the now curious teens grow bored of their confined space and seek to explore Gotham City. Sneaking out of Ivy's apartment, the group causes a wild scene at a dance club and are interrupted by police and a furious Ivy. Eventually realizing they won't be accepted in society, the girls decide to leave Gotham, much to Ivy's dismay.
During the events of No Man's Land, Poison Ivy takes over Robinson Park and turns it into a private oasis. There, she watches over 16 children who have been orphaned after the catastrophic earthquake.
When the city is reopened, the GCPD threaten to unleash herbicide into the park to drive out Ivy and what they believe are her "hostages." Led to believe she is doing more harm than good for the children, she willingly gives herself up to the police. In her confusion, she seeks Batman's help and successfully turns human for a brief time before being tempted by Hush to return to her old ways.
In an arc spanning Batman #41-3, Poison Ivy was able to control the entire human and superhuman population. Devoted to her cause of creating a paradise on Earth, she hoped her influence over mankind would create a more peaceful society that could live alongside nature instead of against it.
In her rage, Ivy employs a hypnotized Superman to fatally punch Batman. Immediately regretting her decision, she uses every medical resource available to save Batman and reveals her regret over the taking of many lives in order to fulfill her quest for power. In the end, the Dark Knight uses Harley Quinn as a means to convince a deeply tormented Ivy into relinquishing her control over humanity.
In Detective Comics #823, Poison Ivy's mission to turn Gotham into a botanical wonderland takes an unexpected turn. She begins collecting "people of no consequence" such as incompetent henchmen and those foolish enough to cross her path, and feeds them to a giant plant which devours them at an agonizingly slow pace.
Taking sadistic enjoyment out of this "guilty little pleasure," Ivy is taken aback when the souls of victims begin to merge, creating a monstrous entity known as Harvest. Becoming "the bitter fruit of [Ivy's] seed," the entity seeks revenge. After releasing the creature into the river, Batman takes Ivy to the hospital to recover from the traumatic encounter.
In Issues #2-3 of the Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, Poison Ivy takes control of a giant mutant weed named Snakeweed. The latter is a villain from the TMNT universe; a former driver for the Kraang turned killer plant. He also possesses insect-like features such as antennae and pincers.
Batman, aided by Batgirl and Robin, and the turtles encounter this dangerous pair in Central Park and are forced to make an unusual alliance to defeat them. Realizing the turtles know Snakeweed's weak spot is his exposed heart, Ivy aids the creature in evolving to protect itself. Robin and Raphael team up to submerge Ivy underwater, eventually breaking her control over Snakeweed.