The Joker's Asylum, Part III: Poison Ivy

With Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" scheduled to be released in the US on July 18 and Bruce Wayne facing a fate worse than death in Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P.," this summer is shaping up to be the Caped Crusader's biggest since the release of Tim Burton's "Batman" in 1989.

Even Batman's rogues are getting in on the action as July will see the release of DC Comics' five-issue weekly series of one-shots entitled "The Joker's Asylum," which celebrates Gotham's greatest villains. As the title suggests, playing host in each of the one-shots is Batman's archenemy, the Joker. In this, our third interview with the five writers of "The Joker's Asylum," CBR News spoke with former "Seinfeld" production assistant-turned-comic scribe J.T. Krul ("Fathom") about his leading rogue �" Poison Ivy.

Illustrated by Guillem March, Krul's story focuses on a list Poison Ivy started making years ago, of people whom she felt needed to be punished for their crimes against nature. Designed to be extremely accessible for new readers, "The Joker's Asylum: Poison Ivy" follows the villainess making her way through the list as Batman tries to figure out her next move before the body count rises even further, while asking who Poison Ivy is, how she came to be, and exploring the driving motivation behind her actions.

What makes Poison Ivy a serious challenge to Batman?

Perhaps the single aspect of Poison Ivy that makes her most challenging to Batman is that she is a woman. For the most part, Batman's collection of rogues is somewhat of a boys' club. From a purely gender standpoint, Poison Ivy stands apart. That coupled with the "tragedy" of how she came to be adds to Batman's urge to understand and sympathize with her. True, she does horrible things and seems off her rocker at times, but I don't think Batman can bring himself to go out after her, like he can with the Joker and the like.

What makes Poison Ivy an interesting character to explore as a writer?

The thing I love most about Poison Ivy is walking than line between bastion of Mother Nature and psycho eco-terrorist. Most of Batman's rogues are driven by greed, ego, or Batman himself, but Poison Ivy has something of a nobler calling. She sees herself as the hand of Mother Nature. If Mother Nature were a "god," then she would be her "Jesus." She defends the defenseless nature in the world and truly believes in her cause. Maiming, mauling, and mutilating are extreme measures, but it's nothing compared to what humanity's done to the world of nature. It goes to that notion of every character being the hero in their own little egocentric world. Poison Ivy always sees the greater good as she punishes those who deserve it.

What role does The Joker play in your storyline and what makes him a great central figure to this series of one-shots?

This "Joker's Asylum" series singles out some of Batman's nastiest rogues as viewed by The Joker himself. He is your host, if you will, of the stories, or as Mike Marts, the editor, would say, The Crypt Keeper. It's The Joker's way of saying, "Look, I know you think I'm off my rocker, but these other psychos are just plain crazy."

After nearly 70 years, what is it that makes Batman such a popular hero and ever-lasting icon?

In a way, he is the everyman, or "everyboy" actually, whose fear of abandonment came to light in the most extreme and gut-wrenching sense. His parents were literally killed before his very eyes. Reading Batman as a boy, one could deal with that fear and watch Batman rise as a symbol of someone who overcame that fear, turning it into his greatest strength. We may not be able to become Superman, but given the right circumstances, everyone could be Batman because he is just like us. And let's face it, with the training he went through, he's the best at what he does (sounds like someone else I know), but what he does is just about everything. He's James Bond, Bruce Li, and Sherlock Holmes all rolled into one.

Who is your favorite Batman rogue and why?

It sounds like the easy answer and it is, The Joker. You asked me what makes Batman such a popular hero. Well, his nemesis is also largely responsible for that. A hero is only as good as the villains he faces, and The Joker must be one of the top five villains of all time in any media. He has got to be the definitive comic book villain. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of great despicable characters out there, but The Joker takes the cake �" and throws it right in your face.

If Bruce Wayne meets "a fate worse than death" in "Batman R.I.P.," who deserves to be the next Batman and why?

Personally, I can't imagine Bruce Wayne not being Batman, but if he has to be replaced, Dick Grayson is the best candidate. He is the first in the legacy line of Robins and his tragedy mirrors that of Bruce Wayne. Batman is Batman because he has to be, not because he necessarily wants to be, and Dick seems to fall into that same trapping. I love Tim Drake, but his circumstances becoming Robin are completely different. He's still a kid himself and has too much to live for, if you know what I mean. And, Jason Todd, well, I know Bruce can be a bit full of himself and opinionated, but he's never been an ass. And that's what Jason Todd is. He could grow into it, but I doubt it. Besides, having Jason Todd becoming Batman, would be as crazy as Bucky becoming the new Captain America. Wait, he is, right?

Are you planning to see Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" in July?

Of course. I thought the first film was amazing. And I can't wait to see Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker. I can't believe he is gone, but I am hoping that his last role is unforgettable. And Christian Bale is the man! It's been such a great couple of years for comic movies and with everything coming down the pipes, it looks to be getting even better.

"The Joker's Asylum: Poison Ivy" with art and cover by Guillem March is scheduled for July 16. Check back with CBR News tomorrow for writer Joe Harris' thoughts on... the Scarecrow.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Batman forum.

Tags: dc comics, batman, poison ivy, jt krul, the joker's asylum

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