Scott Snyder's version of Poison Ivy hasn't lost any of her sensuality or toxicity, but in his All-Star Batman title he's exploring the character as "a person of science."
After years of writing DC's best-selling Batman title, Scott Snyder is taking a whole new approach in his new "Rebirth" title, All Star Batman - one that spotlights villains from Batman's rogues gallery in new ways while also showcasing some of the diverse artistic talents in the comic book industry.
For his first All-Star story arc, Snyder explored the thematic differences between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent as "two sides of the same coin."
With a new story arc that began in January titled "The Ends of the Earth," Snyder is embarking on what he's admitted to Newsarama is a bit of an experiment - linking separate, single-issue tales about different villains in different settings, all drawn by different artists and drawn in different styles, into one whole story.
This week's All-Star Batman #7 explores the motivations of Poison Ivy in a story set in Death Valley - an unusual location for a story about the villain. Drawn by Tula Lotay, the story has no narration, its lack of captions mimicking its stark setting.
Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more about the issue, why he chose Death Valley for a story about Poison Ivy, and what readers can expect from this issue and the rest of "The Ends of the Earth."
Newsarama: Scott, after reading the Mr. Freeze story in All-Star Batman #6, it looks like you're approaching each of the issues in this story arc as kind of individual stories about each villain, but part of a bigger whole - is that how you're approaching it?
Scott Snyder: Right, exactly. I'm trying to, on one hand, do these definitive one-shots with these villains, but they're also building toward a finale. I've never done anything where it's been chapters like this where they feel singular.
In #9, which I just finished, it all kind of culminates, so you'll see references to the Two-Face story, and to the Freeze, Ivy and upcoming Hatter issues as well.
So it's like every one is my take on the character with these artists that I've been dying to work with. And then at the same time, it forms a four-issue arc about the end of the world.
Nrama: So tell me about your version of Poison Ivy. We've seen a lot of different Poison Ivy stories over the years - sometimes she's sexy, sometime she's with Harley and plays off that humor, but who is your Ivy?
Snyder: The thing that really interested me about this character was exploring her as a person of science. I love the idea that she is this brilliant botanist who understands the importance of the balance with the natural world, but she's just gone too far because of this dire need to communicate that we're destroying the very thing that provides us life.
So I wanted to make her someone who's very science-based and re-focus on the brilliance of the research that she used to do.
Also, without making her a hero or someone who's purely "good," I wanted to make her someone who is redeemable - without getting rid of anything regarding her sensuality or her power or any of those things that make her who she is.
She's one of the strongest villains in the rogues gallery easily.
Nrama: You mean strongest as a character, or her power?
Snyder: Both! I mean, she's way stronger than we give her credit for, and one of the cases you could make for her being an anti-hero is the restraint that she shows most of the time.
Nrama: She could level a whole population with some type of biological warfare.
Snyder: Yeah, pretty easily, right?
Nrama: Why did you choose this setting to showcase her science side? She's so often shown in a lush atmosphere, but you chose Death Valley. The landscapes are very stark and empty.
Snyder: It was also, partly, Tula's idea. I approached her and said we could do it one of two places - we could either go really lush or go really stark, and I preferred the stark and was hoping she would too. And she completely did.
One of the things that was compelling about the idea of doing it in the desert - the idea is to place the villains in settings that you might not expect them to appear in. I mean, Freeze had a more conventional location, in terms of it being cold, but that said, the facility being the kind of ice core research in Alaska, I feel like we don't often get to see Bruce travel to those places and face off with villains in these desolate places.
I want the series to have this feeling as though he's meeting these villains almost at the ends of the earth - which is the title of the arc, "Ends of the Earth" - and facing them in ways that make their battles larger than they would be in Gotham. That the stage somehow casts them in a new light and enhances some of the conflict and some of the iconic, I think, tension and almost camaraderie sometimes between him and his villains.
They're larger than life in these kind of big, empty places. All of them are settings that we haven't seen Batman in very often. I want to give it that sense of epic scope.
The next one with Hatter takes place down in the swamps, in the Delta.
And then the fourth, with a couple other villains - without giving too much away - takes place in Washington, D.C.
Nrama: It also shows Ivy in a setting where she's really removed from civilization, and from life. As you said, it's unexpected.
Snyder: Yeah, and I also wanted to create a setting in which Ivy would seem as though she was plotting something bad. She would only come out here to sort of draw biological weapons from the Earth - that's what the authorities are worried about in this issue.
Nrama: Do we learn why she's there in this issue?
Snyder: We do. Ultimately, why she's here, is much more complicated than what the authorities might expect.
I wanted to place her in an environment that was startlingly strange for her and have a mystery around why is she here?
When she's in the jungle, you're used to seeing her there. This, I hope, creates more intrigue and a sense of purpose around her.
I really love the way this issue turned out. I think Tula just knocked it out of the park. I was so honored and proud to work with her and I hope readers enjoy what we did in this issue.
Check back later with Newsarama later this week for a spoiler-filled story about All-Star Batman #7, including the writer's thoughts on Poison Ivy's actions in this week's issue.