This show is going green, as we cover POISON IVY with the help
of licensed therapist Sara Boyadjis!
Sara - give us your background
Poison Ivy, Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, created by Robert
Kanigher & Carmine Infantino in Batman #181 (June 1966)
Originally a botanist who was poisoned to prevent her from
implicating a colleague in a theft, she survived and learned she
was immune to toxins - attacked Gotham to prove she was the
greatest female super villain ever
Reimagined post-Crisis by Neil Gaiman, Pamela Isley was
mentored in biochemistry by Dr. Jason Woodrue (Floronic Man), and
was colleagues with Alec Holland (Swamp Thing)
Woodrue seduces her and injects her with toxins as an
experiment - she is hospitalized, and when she recovers she
vacillates quickly between kindness and rage
The experiments also give her the ability to manipulate plants,
and her touch can transfer a fungus that gives her a control over
She becomes obsessed with Batman, as he is one of the only
people she cannot control due to his strong will, although she has
overcome him on occasion
Woodrue breaks Ivy out of Arkham to help him create
mind-controlling hemp to take over Gotham, but she sides with
Batman, who decapitates Woodrue, as she takes the money and runs
away - whole storyline was Very Special Episode about drugs
In “No Man’s Land”, after Gotham is hit by an earthquake and
isolated from the rest of the US, Ivy takes over Robinson Park, and
turns it into an Eden-esque paradise - she also takes several
orphans under her wing - she strikes a deal with Batman to maintain
control over the area, as long as she grows food for the rest of
This is when she first meets Harley Quinn, left for dead by the
Joker - Ivy nurses Harley back to health, and the two become close
After thinking her powers were poisoning the children in her
care, she asks Bruce Wayne to help reverse her powers and make her
human - she later regains her powers thanks to Hush, although the
procedure temporarily kills her (she gets better)
New 52 reboots her origin - she was born with a skin condition
that kept her isolated, her father murdered her mother, and in
college she sold pheromone pills that mind controlled users - she
later joined Wayne Enterprises to study biochemistry, but was the
victim of an accidental chemical spill that gave her the ability to
control plant matter
Creates plant-human hybrid children that grow at an accelerated
rate - the children leave Ivy and go off on their own
Eventually settles in as antihero, focusing on environmental
Establishes a relationship with Harley Quinn, but the two break
it off after Ivy reveals she loves the planet more than any one
person on it
Issues - Opportunities for natural growth
The greener she gets, the more misanthropic she gets
Two specific carve outs: first Bruce, based more as an
Harley relationship humanizes them both, and is the healthiest
one either of them has (27:12)
Plugs for Grief Burrito, Frigay the 13th, and Phillip Kennedy
In-universe - Have Ivy create an area by herself, where she can
be alone with plants, and slowly integrate other people
Out of universe (49:00) - Address individual with god
DOC: Hello Dr. Isley, I’m Dr. Issues
IVY: Thanks for remembering I have a doctorate.
DOC: My experience tells me that no matter what has happened to
a person, their training sticks with them. Credentials come and
IVY: Sounds like the seasons. Spring and fall, winter and
summer. They tend to pair up that way, don’t you think? I know it’s
common to think of the full cycle, but that’s not how nature works
for things to grow.
DOC: Some things offset, sure. Now, what can I do for
IVY: As a person, probably little. But as fertilizer, maybe
you’re up to snuff.
DOC: *sarcastic* And there are those famous thorny barbs I’ve
heard so much about.
IVY: Force of habit.
DOC: I heard the opposite; you wait for someone to put their
guard down, and then you manipulate them or trap them.
IVY: You’re bringing up ancient history. Those roots have
withered. I’m in this world for much bigger purposes.
DOC: Well, maybe I can help with your mindset and goals. Keep
you emotionally focused, right?
IVY: Emotion doesn’t matter when you have a world to save. Your
experience with…others should have taught you that.
DOC: Too many to name
IVY: You only need one. You KNOW who I’m talking about.
DOC: *pause* There’s an easy answer, and there’s a hard answer.
Which do you want first?
IVY: *irritable* I’m not a child waiting for guessing games
*calms down*…but if you must know, always handle the thorns first
so the delicate petals bloom.
DOC: Hard first then. *sigh* I’m not talking about Harley.
IVY: *surprised* But she sent me here! She said you put up with
all sorts of…nonsense that drives the Arkham therapists bonkers.
And she doesn’t trust people…EVER. Neither do I. So…who?
DOC: I can’t give their name, because it’s not mine to
IVY: I knew it. You’re a stooge! You don’t care about her, or
me, or the planet, do you? You just want to be another one of
his…lapdog Bat children that miss the forest AND the trees. It was
a mistake coming here.
DOC: WAIT! Wait…you didn’t hear the easy part.
IVY: *sigh, clearly angry* make it quick
DOC: I agree that you can be a part of saving the world, with
the right tools.
IVY: You realize you put me through unnecessary anguish by
getting your priorities mixed up, right?
DOC: *gulp* I apologize, okay? I want this to work, but I’m not
going to shy away from your blindspots. What would it take for you
to trust me on this?
IVY: Tell me about these tools of yours.
DOC: Well…this may not be what you want to hear, but there are
some medications that-
IVY: *interrupting* I’m immune to toxins, control pheromones,
and learned the essence of life itself, and you want to talk about
medication?!!! Do you know the harm that Big Pharma has done to
humankind, let alone the plant kingdom? How dare you!
DOC: Please! It’s not what you think! *stuttering due to fear*
e-e-e-ever heard of St John’s Wort?
IVY: Of course. It’s a common natural supplement for those with
DOC: And psilocybin?
IVY: Good old “magic mushrooms.” Had to keep Harley from trying
to bury herself into the ground…she called herself “mother
earth.” Not something to play with.
DOC: How about kratom
IVY: Are you insane?! Nobody should touch that stuff without
knowing the psychological effects even if there’s anecdotal
evidence for pain…where are you going with this?
DOC: That plants are the essence of all medicine, and we know
it. YOU know it. I wouldn’t dare prescribe any of the things
mentioned without more study because it’s too dangerous without
more information. But that doesn’t mean people who care…I mean
REALLY care, aren’t trying to find out.
IVY: After everything I’ve done in my life, you think a review
board would allow me to participate in any such research? I’m
banned for life!
DOC: …and when has that mattered before?
IVY: You’d be risking your license on someone who is a lost
DOC: No, I’m not saying you should DO the research, I’m saying
you should be a PART of the research.
IVY: You want me to be a guinea pig. You’re evil, you know
that? You are no better than any of the fossil industry moguls that
strip the planet bare. You would have me die on the vine rather
than produce fruit for the world!
DOC: No, no, no…you don’t get it…I’m trusting you with your
gift. You’re IMMUNE.
IVY: *pause* My body can process things that others
can’t…filter out the danger…and only leave what’s left if there’s a
way to…extract it without turning me into a green slurry in a food
DOC: Ewww…but yes. You could be the source of a natural
treatment process that eliminates the stigma of medication
management, improves the safety, AND helps with your…let’s just
say, mood lability.
IVY: And you could do all of that…for me?
IVY: *angry* WHAT???
DOC: WAIT! Again! My point is that your own version of the
world can include those types of goals in the long run, but we
can’t do that yet. And we sure can’t do it alone. You have an
opportunity to prove me wrong, but we have to meet somewhere in the
middle. I have approved safe treatments that help. You have a grand
scheme for how the planet should be. Can we meet somewhere in the
IVY: *calmer* You’re weird, you know that?
DOC: Compared to…
IVY: True…perhaps we can work on crossbreeding pollinators with
aerosolized melatonin. The possibilities are endless.
DOC: An apple a day could truly keep the doctor away. Well,
most of them.
***dream sequence sounds***
IVY: Doctor? Doctor?
IVY: Oh dear, I forgot to tell him to use a filtration system
for his office. Those pheromones will give him some incredibly odd
dreams. I’ll have to keep a note of that since most people just
become mindless drones. Perhaps there’s something unique in his
genetic makeup or blood chemistry…
DOC: *whispering while sleeping* Lithium in lilacs, who could
IVY: Hoo boy... And I STILL didn’t get the easy or hard answers
out of him. On the bright side, these ramblings make for
fascinating research. I will say these sessions are worth my time,
at least a little bit.
Recommended reading: Fruit of the Earth, part of No Man’s
Saving the world doesn't necessarily mean you go home happy. How's the mental health of your favorite superhero? A comic aficionado and a board-certified psychiatrist look at the various neuroses of your favorite heroes and villains and provide options for treatment.