Drawing: Poison Ivy Title: Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy

Your beauty is beyond compare / with flaming locks of auburn hair,
with ivory skin and eyes of emerald green.
Your smile is like a breath of Spring, / your voice is soft like Summer rain
and I cannot compete with you, Jolene

Toxic skin
Ivy's skin is sometimes toxic. And then sometimes, it isn't. Sometimes, she touches people with no noticeable effects at all, sometimes she produces an effect of her choice, and then in A walk in the park, she inadvertantly poisons one of her loved ones.[DC752]
Based on that evidence, I play it as Ivy having control over what effect her touch has, with it reverting to highly toxic when she stops paying attention: being anything but poisonous takes an effort.
It seems the only explanation that covers all portrayals so far. It is also a reasonable last ditch defense mechanism for when she falls unconscious.
Lastly, the question of whether she will automatically "disarm" during sex (because otherwise, she may well kill her lovers when her conscious control over her toxicity ceases during climax). Evolution may well have arranged things that way, but of course, Poison's heritage is a little different, so whether it's smart wiring, willpower, or use of condoms, I'll leave for the casual reader to decide.
Skin colour
Over the years, we've seen three skin-colours on Poison Ivy;
  • Caucasian (comics up to and including Catwoman 57[Cat57], Batman: The Animated Series),
  • pale/paperwhite (The New Batman Adventures), and
  • green (comics after Catwoman 57[Cat57], and comics that tie into the animated continuity (… Adventures, Gotham Girls, Harley & Ivy)).

Likewise, there are basically several explanations for the sudden greenish complexion:
  • The change is a direct result of the fertilizer Ivy was exposed to in Catwoman 57. It may be worthy of note that the green complexion is very subtle at first, with Poison sporting very pale skin with just a hint of green in Fruit of the Earth[DC735], whereas the verdant aspect is much more obvious in later issues such as Hush.
  • Ivy's transformation from human to plant is an ongoing process; she is becoming more plant-like by the year. (This can obviously be combined with the above, the difference being largely in whether the progress towards green skin started with the fertilizer, or with the experiment that initially made her Ivy, with the first symptoms taking a really long time to show.)
  • Ivy's control over her body is such that she can choose just how "planty" she is at any given time.
  • The animated tie-in comics actually give an explanation (that is only valid in that continuity, however).
    The Ivy seen in those comics is actually revealed to be a ferak°, a plant-hybrid stand-in Ivy.

I am playing her as slightly green (noticeably green, but not painfully so) — if she wishes to blend in, she needs to use make-up[CS]. Oh, and pale green skin is so doable!
The Green
A sadly under-defined concept. Personally, I take my cues from the Borg° rather than the midi-chlorians°, a million voices[DC693] speaking as one, with Poison being the one that is many, her duality not only that of plant and mammal, but one of singular and plural, as well.
Hybrids / Feraks
Ivy's hybrids are described as fragile and short-lived in Batman: Poison Ivy[B:PI]. While we later meet Ferak°, who is anything but "fragile", she might still be short-lived. This may be one of the reasons Ivy did not create an army of hybrids while in Robinson Park, to then have them take the city by force.
Middle name
Pamela Isley's middle name is usually given as Lillian[SFO:Villains], yet in HotHouse, we see a paper she authored with Philip Danial Sylvian, and her name is given as Pamela Elizabeth Isley[LDK43]. What gives? (Probably just writer-error, but that's such an unsatisfactory explanation.) I'm currently playing both being correct (Pamela Lillian Elizabeth Isley), which may be slightly silly, but seems the most defensive thing to do, at a comparatively small price.
Personal growth
Ivy has over the years matured from the seductive woman aspect of the femme fatale (as opposed to Catwoman's mysterious aspect of same) to a caretaker. Now a more maternal archetype / part of Gaia, she has the distinction of not being a maternal archetype that depends on men protecting her and the children — she's quite capable of handling that herself.
Control / intimacy

Control seems a recurring theme in Poison's story. Surrendering too much of it let Jason send her to hospital, for a painful transmutation that would take six long months. Afterwards: overcompensation as she revels in her new-found powers — in power, in control. Reassurance that men will not hurt her again. Trust was how she'd let pain into her life; relinquishing control had invited betrayal. Now her pheromones would see to it that control would remain with her, absolute control — trust was no longer necessary. But of course, safety is all it grants her, the blend of her fears and her pheromonal makeup getting in the way of true human encounters, separating her from the rest of mankind long before appearances followed, before she moved into the park to live with the plants entirely. Then came the orphans. Baby steps in trust. Not exactly a balanced, equal relationship, but at least a loving, nurturing one. Then came Harley Quinn. Not exactly balanced either, neither the clowngirl herself, nor the friendship with her.

And then, there is the Batman. An adult. An equal, to say the very least, and a man at that. The only man in fact that she can see herself trusting, that she could see herself trust ever since she came to Gotham so many years ago. A curious choice, as her friends would probably argue; a man dangerous in more ways than one, dangerous in battle when they are at cross purposes, and more dangerous still to her softer core.

Batman is attractive not only because of his immediately obvious attributes, but — perhaps more importantly — for being upstanding and incorruptible. His standards may be inconvenient at times, but at least, he protects his and their integrity with his life. So if she is to open up again, who else would she do it with but the last honest man, the only she could trust with herself? His being able to protect himself from her pheromones makes him dangerous (and exciting!), but it is also a necessary prerequisite for any encounter as equals — after all when her pheromones work, she needs no trust, no social graces.

As for sex as such (cf. toxic skin), it may be worthy of note that while Poison has often been portrayed as seductive, she is usually portrayed as a woman many, if not most, men would love to sleep with, rather than one who has slept with many men; the canonical examples of unfulfilled desire[LDK43][SB(A)5]… in the film noir femme fatale tradition far outweighing those where actual sex is suggested[TPT], and while it's difficult to tell how many people she slept with, the number of people she was in love with is suggested to be very low — Jason Woodrue and the Batman, essentially.1

Extending trust to men in general and sharing any sort of intimacy with one in particular, without the safety net of her pheromones, can't be easy for Poison, and where it would have been painful enough for any other woman to rebuild her trust, it must have been particularly confusing for one who had just been elected the avatar of Gaia.

Given the blatant imagery of dominance and submission we are treated to, an attraction to "abusive men"2 even before she becomes Poison Ivy34 and a pervasive preoccupation with control (not to mention the fact that the character is based on BDSM-model Bettie Page°), it is anybody's guess whether that intimacy takes the (oft ritualised) form of BDSM°, but in the BatVerse°, it's certainly possible.

1   A nameless boy-friend she has after her transformation and who totals his car after an argument with her is mentioned[LDK43], but while sex is probable, it seems safe to assume that her feelings for him never equalled those for Woodrue or Batman.
2   I'm very disappointed that we are shown neither Batman's expression nor thoughts when he is told that she is "drawn to abusive men," it just would have been so hilarious for him to go, "hold on, wait a minute, and she likes me!??"
3   One might argue that after her isolated childhood, Pamela felt that "any attention is good attention", but with her looks even then and her intelligence, it should have been possible for her to find someone who would treat her better than Jason Woodrue did; that she still fell for him would suggest that his treatment of her did not bother her so much (if it didn't outright attract her), that other factors were more important — like shared obsession with plants or status — or, as suggested in canon, that the obsession, unhealthy as it may have been, was actually purely romantic in nature.
4   And of course, becoming Poison Ivy gave rise to a new set of issues on top of that.
  • The control she could assert over men.
  • The possible use of physical intensity of some kind take to temporarily shut up, shut out the million voices of the green.
  • The possible use of emotional or physical pain as a way to assure herself of the validity of her emotions (obviously, they're strong and true, how else could she continue holding on to someone who so rarely acknowledges her existence)?
    Bit like an anxious/avoidant attachment combo between the two of them that way …
  • The possible use of emotional or physical pain as a way to assure herself of the validity of his emotions — if he isn't accomodating in his treatment of her, it clearly isn't some pheromone-induced infatuation; it's the real thing: His will be done, rather than hers by virtue of her pheromones.
  • And then, it is entirely possible that by now, she is also bored to death by being waited on hand and foot.

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