After finishing up its first major arc involving Two-Face, All-Star Batman is now moving into several one-shot stories that build on each other. The first in these one-shot stories featured a Mr. Freeze story did an interesting job in setting up this end of the world arc Scott Snyder is building on. Some of the details behind Mr. Freeze missed the mark but the concept of Batman battling various villains to figure out what is going on with the Earth is fascinating. Where Mr. Freeze’s issue missed the mark I’m hoping that All-Star Batman #7 involving Poison Ivy will move things further into a positive direction. Let’s find that out with All-Star Batman #7.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Tula Lotay (Main Story); Francesco Francavilla (The Cursed Wheel Back-Up)
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batman walks through a desert with a specialized costume. As he walks through the area he recounts a lecture Dr. Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy) gave at the Gotham University in April 2010.
Elsewhere Poison Ivy is at a shop she goes to every year for the last 5 years on the same date for some supplies. There the clerk talks about how his son wants to be an artist but he will not pay for art school as he believes art stigmatizes kids. He then brings up how someone came in early to ask about Poison Ivy.
The clerk tries to use this to get Poison Ivy to do something for him but she uses her powers to get the clerk to tell the people asking for her that stigmatizing is a good thing.
As this goes on some scientist are conducting an experiment with a burning skull as a countdown number goes from thirteen to twelve.
In Death Valley on the Nevada border Poison Ivy drives through an area to find her partner, a dead tree in the middle of the desert. Poison Ivy takes of her disguise and sets up camp around the dead tree.
As she makes progress with her experiment Poison Ivy’s plants tell her someone is in the area. She goes outside and is enraged to see Batman.
After tying Batman up with her plants Poison Ivy asks him why he is there. Batman says he is there to request her help.
Back at the unknown lab the experiment continues with a girl in a special tube as the number counts down to eight.
Batman shows Poison Ivy a file for a girl named Lilith Seguro, who loves science and specializes in botany. Batman reveals that the girl recently went into the woods and came back infected by something.
Poison Ivy gets a sample of the thing that infected Lilith from Batman. As Poison Ivy finds Magnaporthe grisea and ricin spore in the sample she asks Batman how he got the sample. Batman says that it was part of an ancient bacteria Freeze let loose that he thought he stopped but Lilith somehow got into contact with.
Poison Ivy believes Batman is still not telling her something so she tightens her plants grasp on him. Batman reveals that a special strike force has been following him since Two-Face’s attack and they now think Poison Ivy will use the bacteria as a weapon to kill people.
Poison Ivy wonders if Batman is there to save her. Batman says he read all of Poison Ivy’s work and understands that she would not use her tree to kill, rather she wants to use it as a cure.
Poison Ivy reveals her work before she became who she is now involved pheromones that would allow people to feel good physically and mentally. She goes on to say that when she presented her work to Bruce Wayne he destroyed her work so she took it upon herself to save what she could.
She then goes on how trees of the Great Copse when not raised correctly can go bad which is what happened to her. She explains that is what is happening to all Copse trees and now the one she is caring for is also becoming infectious.
Batman tries to get Poison Ivy to stop explaining things and help him save Lilith. Poison Ivy approaches Batman and says she already knows that the girl died and the scientist burned her body when he arrive to her location.
She goes on to say that it’s been about seven hours since Batman arrived and the infection Lilith got is likely spreading to other people. Batman admits that Lilith died less than an hour ago and officials are now calling the plague “Lilly’s Cradle” after Lilith. Batman begs Poison Ivy to help him save people from dying.
Poison Ivy kisses Batman. After breaking the kiss Poison Ivy reveals she almost didn’t come to Death Valley this year because she made a breakthrough last year. She says that she found something that help with the pathogens and that she will now share it.
As they talk the camp site is surrounded by military officials using cloaking technology to hide their location.
Batman and Poison Ivy team up to take on the military. They are able to fight most of them off but Poison Ivy gets captured. Batman quickly saves her from getting burnt to death. Unfortunately his punch sends the guy using the flame thrower flying and causes him to set the tree Poison Ivy has been taking care of ablaze.
Batman tries to help Poison Ivy but she just yells at him to leave. Batman then reveals he was wearing wax lips, which makes Poison Ivy wonder why he fought for her. Batman reveals that after Poison Ivy left Bruce Wayne set up a fund under Pamela’s name for kids interested in botanical science, which Lilith ended up being one the applicants of. Batman continues to say he was fighting for Poison Ivy and Lilith and apologizes for being too late.
Before Batman walks away Poison Ivy gives Batman a plant that will help him find a way to destroy the spore infecting people. Batman thanks Poison Ivy for what she has given him. Poison Ivy tells Batman to promise her they won’t name the plague after Lilith because if they do she will do something worse than Freeze ever did.
As she explains that she wants Lilith to be remembered for her dream we see a flashback of Lilith walking into the woods thirteen hours earlier. End of main story.
The Good: Whereas Mr. Freeze has always found a difficulty discovering his footing outside the animated realm, Poison Ivy has expanded her reach to be important in the comic books. That is where All-Star Batman #7 shines as we see how the concept behind Poison Ivy extends beyond her origin story. It’s through that showcase we are able to get a unique confrontation that challenges Batman in a way we don’t often see.
One of the more interesting things Scott Snyder brings up with All-Star Batman is Bruce Wayne’s role in creating Poison Ivy. Snyder does this by having Pamela’s transformation to Poison Ivy to be a fault from a younger Bruce Wayne. By specifying a date that Pamela sees as when Bruce screwed her Snyder is able to give us a better idea of how this happed during Batman’s early days when Bruce was prone to make mistakes even he didn’t realize.
Helping to drive this home was Bruce directly admitting his mistake to Poison Ivy as Batman. Snyder is able to shape Batman’s dialogue in a way that shows us how sympathetic he is for Poison Ivy. This makes the fact that he was in Death Valley to also protect Poison Ivy a much more impactful realization Snyder provides for the reader. It also speaks to the maturity Batman has gained over the course of his career as he does have a greater understanding of connecting with others on an emotional level.
All-Star Batman #7 was also a standout issue for Poison Ivy herself. Snyder’s take on the character was just on point as he gives her characteristic of both a good and bad person. On one end we see the nurturing side of her character that takes great care in her work to save the planet. Expanding this to show she can also sympathize with people like Lilith Seguro, who love botanical science, was a great touch. Her final line to Batman about the plague not being named after Lilith what kind of hero Poison Ivy could be if painted in that light more often.
At the same time, Snyder was able to show us how deadly Poison Ivy can be when she uses her powers in various ways. From using pheromones to how she used her plants to fight alongside Batman, it all got across how powerful she was. Even though she and Batman went their separate ways at the end of the issue, Snyder left me wanting more from Poison Ivy as now I want to see what she does in a longer arc where she is the main antagonist against the Batman Family.
“The Cursed Wheel” back-up story in All-Star Batman continues to get better with each issue. Snyder has done a good job slowly building Duke’s character to be something that is completely different than Batman, Robin or other Bat-related characters. The fact that Batman tells Duke that he has to discover who he is going to become on his own is an intriguing direction since he isn’t saying Duke should be a hero or work in the background. Instead, Batman is forcing Duke to find what he wants to do in his life on his own. By doing this Snyder makes Duke a much more relatable character as we can all understand what it is like to go on a journey to discover what we are good at and want to do with our futures.
Tula Lotay’s artwork throughout All-Star Batman #7 just established how she should draw every Poison Ivy story moving forward. Lotay perfectly captures the power that Poison Ivy holds as being both beautiful and dangerous depending on what side you fall. The painting art style Lotay employs also worked well with amplifying how Batman was trying to connect with Poison Ivy so she can help him stop the plague that was released upon the world. The emotion captured in these scenes was all well executed.
The back-up story featuring Duke continues to benefit from having Francesco Francavilla’s talents to illustrate his journey. Francavilla is able to further the fact that Duke is still discovering who he is through the various emotions he displays on his face. The final image of him sitting alone in his room and then disappearing was chilling and made you wonder what he was thinking during this time.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: All-Star Batman #7 provided us with one of the best Poison Ivy stories we have ever gotten. Scott Snyder’s clear understanding of Poison Ivy’s character leaves you hoping that he writes an extended arc involving her and the rest of the Batman Family. Tula Lotay’s artwork helped make the already strong story much greater as she got across the impact Batman and Poison Ivy had on each other during their conversation. Add in another strong chapter in Duke’s back-up story and All-Star Batman #7 is yet another winner in one of DC Comics best ongoing series.