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Poison Ivy #16
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Poison Ivy’ #16 sees Ivy’s sins return to haunt her

G. Willow Wilson weaves a nightmarish tale of an innocent human who succumbs to his lamia infection… and the horrific realities of capitalism.

The mycelial horror that has become Pamela Isley’s existence, ever since the release of the lab-grown lamia spore crafted by Beatrice Crawley for “FutureGas,” has escalated in Poison Ivy #16, as Ivy’s many sins return to haunt her. While Poison Ivy has always been a body-horror extravaganza, Poison Ivy #16 feels like the series never left the recent DC Knight Terrors event. G. Willow Wilson – with stunning art from Marcio Takara and Arif Prianto – weaves a nightmarish tale of an innocent human who succumbs to his lamia infection… and the horrific realities of capitalism.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Poison Ivy #16!

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All previous issues of Poison Ivy have seemingly led up to this point, as Ivy’s journey across the United States to Seattle, and her recent return to Gotham, begin to converge in a major confrontation. Poison Ivy has just defeated the villainous Peter Undine – with the help of Killer Croc no less – and is recovering from that clash while she dreams of her ever-growing connection the mycelial lamia network, and the progression of her terrifying “wild strain.”

Poison Ivy #16

DC Comics

Poison Ivy #16, positioned as a dream Ivy is having while recovering from Undine’s entrapment, mainly focuses on a regular human named Chuck, whom Ivy inadvertently infected with lamia spores issues ago while in a grocery store. As Chuck grows ever sicker, Wilson brilliantly uses his mushroom infection to comment on the horrifying realities that many blue-collar and service workers experienced during the height of the COVID pandemic. Even though Chuck is getting worse, and his wife urges him to go see a doctor, he feels trapped by the weight of capitalism and his familial responsibilities, unable to take a day off from work regardless of his condition.

Poison Ivy is clearly filled with regret for the pain she has caused to innocent humans, now that she has come to her powerful realization that humanity is part of the Green, and not the collective cause of its pain. Wilson masterfully comments on the necessary concept of “intention vs. impact.” Ivy acknowledges that even though her intention was not to cause a slow, horrific death for innocent humans, the impact of her actions has led to the tragic deaths of many innocents and the destruction of entire families. Her infection got loose, grew wild, and is now out of her control.

Poison Ivy #16

DC Comics

As Chuck’s symptoms progress, he enters into a psychedelic state, becoming one with the lamia network and joining Ivy in her own mycelial dream world. Although Ivy recognizes that once she wakes she will not remember most of her dream, she comments that everyone she has touched with the lamia spores now exists in her dreaming state, including the recently killed Undine. Poison Ivy is their “mother,” and she is subconsciously pulling her mushroom children closer and closer to her, setting up Gotham for a horrifying battle against an ever-growing army of mushroom zombies.

Unsurprisingly, Marcio Takara’s art – with vibrant coloring from Arif Prianto – is absolutely breathtaking, highlighting Chuck’s horror as his sickness progresses, his wife’s immense grief after he disappears, and the twisted beauty of Ivy’s dreamland. Takara is able to deftly juxtapose the natural existence of mushrooms with the horror of a human discovering plants growing on their body in a way that makes the reader’s skin crawl… and begin to itch. Of course, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering continues to be a highlight of the Poison Ivy series, particularly the otherworldly hue of lamia-Ivy’s speech bubbles.

Full November 2023 DC Comics solicitations:

DC Comics

In a fun bit of synergy, Season 3 of DC’s Harley Quinn TV series saw Batman accidentally resurrecting his parents as plant zombies, leading to Poison Ivy controlling an entire army of human-plant zombie hybrids in an attempt to terraform Gotham. Ivy was able to control the zombies through the Green in the TV show, so it will be interesting to see if Ivy is similarly able to control the lamia zombies through the Green, or if she will be helpless to watch their reign of mushroom terror. She clearly cannot contain the spread of the lamia infection – as of yet – but that doesn’t mean she can’t influence the carriers if she can become conscious of her mycelial network connection.

While Chuck’s story is interesting, as well as heartbreaking, I do wish that Poison Ivy herself was more centered throughout Poison Ivy #16. Her ongoing narrative and internal dialogue remain fascinating, but in some ways, it feels like Poison Ivy #16 is a “recap” of the past 15 issues, and a teaser for the coming arc as Chuck and the army of mushroom zombies begin their assault on Gotham. The issue has stellar writing, meaningful commentary, and gorgeous art, but there is not enough action in my opinion, especially when compared to the exciting showdown with Undine last issue.

A major theme in Poison Ivy has been Ivy’s need to sacrifice parts of herself to save those she cares about it, or to take accountability for her past sins, and it seems like this next battle will be no different. The lamia zombies are Ivy, and Ivy is the lamia zombies, so to defeat the horde of plant monsters, she may need to sacrifice a part of herself to save Harley, Janet, and all of humanity.

G. Willow Wilson’s Poison Ivy #16 is a beautifully written tragedy of an innocent man and the sins that are coming to collect their due from Ivy. With magnificent art from Marcio Takara and Arif Prianto, that makes the issue a joy to read from the first page to the last, it is well worth your time and the perfect setup for Ivy’s next major confrontation.

Poison Ivy #16
‘Poison Ivy’ #16 sees Ivy’s sins return to haunt her
Poison Ivy #16
G. Willow Wilson's Poison Ivy #16 is a beautifully written tragedy of an innocent man, and the sins that are coming to collect their due from Ivy. With magnificent art from Marcio Takara and Arif Prianto, that make the issue a joy to read from the first page to the last, it is well worth your time and the perfect set up for Ivy's next major confrontation. 
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.3
Marcio Takara's art is, unsurprisingly, absolutely gorgeous
Fascinating introspection on intention vs. impact, and different forms of harm
I wish Ivy was a more central figure in this story, even though Chuck's focus was well-written
This issue felt like a big teaser for the coming arc
8
Good
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