For once I am shutting up about Harley Fuckin’ Quinn because I thought I’d take a break and see how her paramour Poison Ivy was doing via the first volume of POISON IVY: THE VIRTUOUS CYCLE. (CYCLE from here on out.)

So, how is she doing? Not great!

For all intents and purposes, CYCLE is a solo road trip that folds SWAMP THING into PREACHER. It consists of Poison Ivy being 1) pissed at the folks that robbed her of her godlike command over the Earth and 2) pissed at humanity for ruining what could have been Eden 3) pissed at herself for fucking things up and 4) hating almost everyone she encounters while driving through the U.S. and 5) pining for Harley but still driven to eradicate humanity and restore what she believes should be the natural state of the world.

CYCLE is deliciously and angrily penned by G. Willow Wilson (MS. MARVEL, AIR). Ivy’s simmering rage — occasionally tempered by well-meaning folks who get in way of her personal mission — is nothing but relatable by anyone who feels that the world’s gone to Hell and there’s no redemption. The artwork — mostly helmed by Marcio Takara (CAPTAIN MARVEL) but also Emma Ríos (PRETTY DEADLY) is so vibrant and expressive, and the exceptionally evocative layouts and panel work do what brilliant panel work does best: bolstering the narrative and tension while also dazzling you.

Given that this is Poison Fuckin’ Ivy, you’d expect some brilliant color work and goddamn, Arif Prianto, Jordie Bellaire, and Trish Mulvihill do not disappoint, although all know how to reign it back when Ivy’s actually interacting with normals.

I can’t forget to mention that Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering is pitch-perfect, and literally folds the words into the interwoven world of roots and greenery that is Ivy’s mind.

I previously mentioned that it feels like SWAMP THING merged with PREACHER and I want to underscore that this is one of the few works I’ve read in some time that captures the outsider thrill of a Vertigo work — DC’s now-defunct mature reader imprint that they gutted for parts — and I love it for that alone. After all, Wilson penned one of the later original Vertigo series, AIR, which is brilliant and I’ll post about another time. CIRCLE is all moral grey areas and, while it leans on the powers of the protagonist, it’s more about a personal worldview and societal dissonance. It’s a severely substantial work that makes the most of Ivy, and I can’t wait to read the next volume.

Lastly, I’ll note that if you buy the collected edition, you also receive a bonus interview with all involved — yes, even the letterers — which is amazingly enlightening and entertaining, and I wish more collections made the space to do the same.

You can purchase POISON IVY: THE VIRTUOUS CYCLE via Bookshop!


If you are of a certain age and a certain type of comic book nerd, the DC imprint VERTIGO means a lot to you. For most, it represents realizing that mainstream comics can be more than folks endlessly punching each other and offer life stories and lessons and emotions.

Usually, most folks gravitate towards Neil Gaiman’s mythic SANDMAN run which, fair enough. I admit, I have an almost complete collection, mostly of individual issues, including signed copies of the initial storyline which is a prized possession. Or perhaps DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING mini. Maybe the grandfathered-in ANIMAL MAN or the DOOM PATROL series, which is now a brilliantly adapted TV series, and has an illustrious number of collections.

However, the little-known SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN is my favorite VERTIGO book from that time period. Peter Milligan took a bonkers Steve Ditko-created character and managed to twist it into something far more malleable. Each arc of his grappled with surprising facets of society and culture; from the American infatuation with the death of John F. Kennedy to quiet interpersonal dynamics, all told through the eyes of an alien who inhabits bodies and is intensely over-emotional.

It helped that he was accompanied by the dynamic pen and pencil work of a young Chris Bachalo and Mark Pennington, lending an extremely vibrant verve to Milligan’s imagination.

In the 90s, there was absolutely nothing like what SHADE was doing, and it’s still rare to find today. It was weird, bizarre, absolutely surreal, but still imbued with emotional heft.

I wish there was the demand for them to collect Milligan’s entire run as an omnibus — complete with Brendan McCarthy’s amazing psychedelic covers — but sadly, DC only individually collected three volumes of his work. Nonetheless, if you’re into weird — or just quality — fiction, I suggest seeking them out, as they’re (thankfully) still in-print, and then pick up the remaining issues via dollar-bins because I’m not about to lend out mine.