Poison Ivy: Thorns offers an intense, gothic reimagining of Pamela Isley's upbringing with a bleak, twisted and compelling origin story that thoughtfully returns the character to her roots. From writer Kody Keplinger, artist Sara Kipin and colorist Jeremy Lawson, Poison Ivy: Thorns doesn't back down from the chance to shine an eerie, disquieting spotlight on one of Batman's most famous foes. Thorns stands as both an excellent young adult comic and a truly sinister horror story all wrapped snugly into one book.
Poison Ivy: Thorns tells the story of a teenaged Pamela Isley dealing at once with both unimaginably horrific circumstances at home, and extremely imaginable, tragically unsurprising, cruelty and abuse at school. Keplinger, Kipin and Lawson bring issues of Trust, Family, Possession and Helplessness to the forefront in Thorns, and give one of the darkest, most interesting takes on Poison Ivy the character has seen in years.
It seems clear that author Kody Keplinger took nothing for granted when considering how to tell a great Poison Ivy story. Many recent interpretations of Ivy poise her as more of an antihero, rather than a cut-and-dry villain. Historically, however, Ivy started out as a nefarious member of Batman's rogues gallery, akin to The Penguin or Two-Face. Poison Ivy: Thorns beautifully merges these two histories into one impressively complex narrative that treats Ivy as not just the villain in someone else's book. Eliciting meaningful pity and empathy for her character, while not shying away from the darkness that she has inside. A darkness that, Keplinger powerfully offers, was instilled in her by the cruelty of others. The cold, twisted world that surrounds and imprisons Ivy is palpably unsettling and isolating, made colder by the real villains of the book, inescapable and lurking around every corner.
Sara Kipin's illustrations and Jeremy Lawson's colors are perfectly fitted to Keplinger's horror-infused young adult style. Ivy's powers have fantastically sinister eldritch undertones, neither the script nor the art tries to over-explain or diagnose her mysterious relationship with the plant life around her. This welcome subdued approach to the more science-fiction elements of the story leaves room for Kipin to spend her time conveying teenaged Pamela, rather than Poison Ivy, through excellent illustrations and characterization. Not to mention the obscure nature of Ivy's powers only adds to the fear and discomfort laced throughout the pages. Lawson's colors mix seamlessly into the creative energy of Thorns as well, in one of those rare, impressive shows of symbiosis between artist and colorist where Kipin's panels becomes nearly unimaginable without Lawson's exquisitely somber world of color layered over them
Poison Ivy: Thorns is a young adult comic that gives a heart-wrenching and brutally honest reimagining of Pamela Isley's upbringing. And for a Batman character, attached to a franchise that has been geared less and less towards younger fans in recent memory, to receive this level of consideration from a young adult book is extremely exciting. Those who feel that mature ratings always compel deeper stories and character treatment now have to explain how one of the best Poison Ivy stories in recent memory comes from a young adult title.
In retrospect it seems obvious that Poison Ivy would be a perfect character for this treatment, but this is only due to how outstandingly Poison Ivy: Thorns sells the idea. This book is recommended for any Ivy fan excited to see a fresh new take on the character. Poison Ivy: Thorns is first and foremost a young adult title, but contains horror and thriller elements that young readers should be aware of before diving in. This said, Poison Ivy: Thorns is a fantastic read that has something for fans both old and young to enjoy.