By any measure, Swamp Thing is one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe through his connection an elemental force known as the Green, which also connects him to all plant life on Earth. However, Alec Holland is far from the only foliage-empowered figure within the DCU, with longtime Batman villain Poison Ivy revealing her own surprising connection to the Green recently, potentially having her rival Swamp Thing in terms of their shared power source.
Now, we're taking a look back at this enigmatic, elemental force, how Swamp Thing has been able to use it over the years and how Poison Ivy apparently became connected to it herself.
What is the Green?
While Swamp Thing's rebirth as an elemental avatar has been present since his creation by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson since Swamp Thing's early adventures, the mythos of the Green and the Parliament of Trees presiding over it was created by Alan Moore and Stan Woch in 1986's Swamp Thing #47.
When a being dies burning and merges with the Earth, as Alec Holland's corporeal form had years earlier, they become an agent for the Parliament of the respective Elemental force they died in, with the Parliament of Trees representing foliage and the Green, the Parliament of Waves representing water and the Blue or the Clear, the Parliament of Decay representing the rot and the Grey, the Parliament of Limbs representing animals and the Red, and an unnamed Parliament representing air and the White.
Another elemental has occasionally been shown as an earth-based one known as the Parliament of Stones representing the Melt. The Grey has also been associated with earlier comics as representing fungal life, with the Black representing death but, as Swamp Thing's dominion expanded to fungi as well as foliage, the Grey was grouped with the Rot.
Former elemental avatars make up the respective Parliaments, with Swamp Thing expected to join the Parliament of Trees' ranks after his own death. The various Parliaments have been shown to appear in alternate worlds and realities, with the New 52 version of Alan Scott on Earth-2 gaining his powers due to a connection to the Green rather than Starheart as in the main DC Universe.
Swamp Thing and the Green
Through the Green, Swamp Thing can inhabit and control any aspect of plant life he is aware of, including forms of extraterrestrial plant life, as seen when the character interacted with a moss native to Krypton that had arrived on Earth from a meteorite. Through this connection, Swamp Thing can manifest himself and grow through even the smallest amount of foliage, once growing out of the tobacco within one of John Constantine's cigarettes.
In addition to being able to sense and grow through the Green, Swamp Thing can enter the realm within it to communicate with the Parliament of Trees directly. While often working together to protect plant life across the planet, Swamp Thing has opposed the previous avatars before after learning of their scheme to eradicate all other forms of life on Earth to become the sole remaining elemental power in existence.
Poison Ivy and the Green
Before she was as villain, Poison Ivy studied for her doctoral degree in botany alongside a pre-Swamp Thing Alec Holland. Pamela Isley also studied under Doctor Jason Woodrue before the scientist became the villain the Fluoronic Man. As part of Woodrue's obsessive experiments to gain access to the Green, he injected Pamela with a mixture of floral toxins resulting in her transformation into Poison Ivy.
Having control over plants and able to sense through them, it was initially assumed Poison Ivy's powers were a direct side effect of Woodrue's toxic serum, but they was eventually revealed to have given Ivy a connection to the Green. Following Infinite Crisis, Poison Ivy's control over plants is at least on par with the Fluoronic Man and rivals Swamp Thing. Following Ivy's death during Heroes in Crisis, she is able to regenerate herself completely from a rose that she had given to Harley Quinn after receiving a small speed boost from a repentant Wally West.