In discussions about who might be dying in this month’s kick off of the DC event Heroes in Crisis, a frequent guess is the Batman villain Poison Ivy.
Not only was Poison Ivy one of the first characters mentioned in-story as a patient at Sanctuary (in Batman #43), but she’s also been included in advertising from DC about characters that might die.
And Ivy is noticeably absent from future DC solicitations.
But there have been hints that, even if her life is endangered in Heroes in Crisis, Poison Ivy will live on as a new female version of Swamp Thing, the avatar of the Green.
Wait, What is The Green?
In the DCU, the plant kingdom is portrayed as having a deeper, more mystical connection called the Green. All botanical forms of life are connected by the Green, and its mythology includes a pretty extensive cast of characters.
The idea of “The Green” is most associated with Swamp Thing, who is the avatar of The Green. But some other DC characters have been shown to possess a connection to the Green — including Poison Ivy.
And two recent appearances by Swamp Thing in DC comic books have suggested that Poison Ivy will soon become a new avatar of the Green, replacing the current Swamp Thing, Alec Holland.
First, in Justice League Dark #2, John Constantine confronts Swamp Thing (his JLD teammate), sensing that Alec is going to stop being Swamp Thing soon.
“Expected you to have a longer run of it,” John says to Swampy, “before you packed it in and joined the Parliament of Trees.”
(The Parliament of Trees is where former Swamp Things go when they are no longer the avatar of the Green.)
Swamp Thing doesn’t deny John’s assertion. “The Green will be better served by a defender who is still rooted in this world,” he replies.
So, that establishes the current Swamp Thing, Alec Holland, is aware that he’s not going to be Swamp Thing much longer.
And as various stories about Swamp Thing have made clear, the Earth needs an active and strong avatar of the Green or else similar elements (such as the Rot or the Red) will become too powerful. And that will put the DCU out of balance.
So if Alec retires (or perhaps dies in Justice League Dark), who will be the next avatar?
The Swamp Thing mythology has emphasized in recent years that there have been a wide variety of people who acted as avatars for the Green. So Poison Ivy, who is already connected to the element, could be tapped next.
In Damage #6, Alec Holland comes right out and pretty much announces that Poison Ivy is being groomed by the Green to be the new Swamp Thing. He shows up at the end of the issue to talk to Damage/Ethan Avery after the hero had to battle against Gorilla Grodd and Poison Ivy.
“When my time as avatar is finished, a new one will be chosen,” Alec tells Ethan. “I fear the Green intends to be more direct. It is asserting influence over Poison Ivy, giving her power, molding her into the warlike avatar that they desire.”
So the Green wants Ivy as its avatar. And what the Green wants, the Green usually gets…
Evil or Good Ivy?
Alec also warns Ethan in Damage #6 that Ivy being Swamp Thing could be a bad thing. “The day of reckoning for humankind is coming,” he says.
However, the issue made it clear that Ivy wants to be a hero — or at least, she doesn’t want to hurt people. She not only turned against Grodd and saved Ethan (and humanity), but she literally announced:
“I won’t be made a villain by the forces of creation!”
Ethan defends Ivy’s heroism to Alec as well, telling him: “She helped me. Without her, I wouldn’t have beaten Grodd.”
“Despite its considerable power,” Swamp Thing says, “The Green has not conquered Ivy yet. She is strong. However, it will not concede easily. Ivy has more trials ahead.”
So if Ivy is killed in Heroes in Crisis, the healing she experienced at Sanctuary could make her into a good version of Swamp Thing.
But…then again, the experience of being killed by a human in Heroes in Crisis might make her angry at humanity, which could make her into a bad version of Swamp Thing.
Of course, this is all speculation, but it’s based on some pretty significant evidence. If Alec Holland becomes part of the Parliament of Trees, the group of plant elementals who mystically protect the plant universe in the DCU, could Poison Ivy become the new Swamp Thing?