Amy Chu Sets Down Poison Ivy’s Roots in ‘Cycles of Life and Death’ [Interview]
Last week saw Batman villainess Pamela Isley ditch the leafy costume and come back to her, ahem, roots: life as a working scientist. Written by Amy Chu and drawn by Clay Mann, Poison Ivy: Cycles of Life and Death is a four-issue miniseries that sees the character working at a lab while looking for some kind of balance between her plant and human nature.
The series is also a murder-mystery where the prime suspect is the lead character, which makes for a fun, twisty story, seen through the perspective of a lady who really doesn't care for humans that much anymore. Or does she? ComicsAlliance caught up with Chu to find out how the series came together, and what readers can expect from Ivy over the next few issues.
ComicsAlliance: How did you first come to be involved in writing Poison Ivy? Was this something you pitched specifically?
Amy Chu: I met [DC editor] Bobbie Chase at Baltimore Comic Con two years ago and she asked me if I had any ideas for Poison Ivy. So I pitched an idea to her, but it was actually a different pitch for a different story that got folks interested --- a murder mystery I pitched to Vertigo.
CA: Ivy’s been most recently seen as a supporting character in Harley Quinn, where she’s come across as self-confident, cool, and content. What approach are you taking to Ivy as the series begins?
AC: Ivy's got all these great powers, along with both intellect and character complexity --- it's such a waste for someone like her to be a minor character for so long. So I just gave her the platform she deserves --- her own place in Gotham.
CA: What do you want to emphasise about her as the series progresses? There’s a lot to play with, but this is the first time in a while we’ve been able to spend large amount of time with her
CA: That's exactly right. Ivy is sexy, but also smart and powerful. I don't want to downplay any of these aspects. Ivy is caught between two worlds --- human and plant. Can she reconcile the duality of her nature?
CA: Why do you think she wants to return to her ‘human’ identity as Pamela Isley? What is she looking for in life?
AC: She's still Ivy, but her role as scientist Pamela Isley gives her some normalcy and experience with normal human interaction. But also an ability to work with other scientists like her, which I think she finds interesting.
CA: How does she find working alongside the other members of the laboratory?
AC: It's a challenge --- you don't have to be human to find working in any environment a challenge. I've worked with many, many scientists in different labs (in my alter ego/previous life) and the supporting characters we'll find in this miniseries are a composite of these people.
CA: Given her general lack of empathy for humans, do you think it’s difficult to make readers empathise for Ivy herself as a lead?
AC: Sure! Gregg Hurwitz wrote a great Penguin mini series called Pain and Prejudice where you really feel for him at the end, and Ivy is not even close to Penguin on the villainy spectrum --- so it can be done. I think of Ivy as perfectly logical.
Harley's the unpredictable one.
CA: What’s it like working with Clay Mann on the comic? What does he bring to the series?
AC: I was friends with Clay before, so it's great actually working together. I've only met Seth, his twin, a couple of times, who's doing the inking, but I've seen his Marvel work before. If you look at my script it's very straight and focused on Isley, whereas Clay brings in the Ivy-ness, the sexiness to everything. And I mean everything!
Even the plants are beautiful and sexy!
CA: One of the defining traits for Ivy is assumed to be her use of her sexuality to keep her enemies off-kilter --- so is that something you’ll be playing into here?
AC: Honestly I felt that's too easy. Dare I say... so 1966? And if there's anything that throws people off kilter these days, it's not sexuality but smarts.
CA: Ivy’s a hugely popular character online, much like her friend-with-benefit Harley Quinn. How’s reaction been from the fans regarding the series being announced?
AC: Props to all the fans all around the world who've lobbied hard for this series. They've been so incredibly supportive of me and Clay it's kind of overwhelming! I'm excited for them to see the issues!
Gallery: The Best Poison Ivy Art Ever!