I’m all in favor of protecting the environment. However, some groups tend to take that to extremes. I’ll stop here before I get political, but it features into the two villains we’re looking at today: Poison Ivy and Ra’s Al Ghul. Both villains, in the cartoon anyway, were about protecting plants specifically or the Earth in general. And both agree that the enemy is the human race. And yet both had different approaches. Ra’s is near-immortal and has vast wealth while Ivy creates killer monster plants or works with Harley Quinn in order to fund her ultimate goal. Ivy is first on our list today. What was the initial approach to Ms. Pamela Isley?
When she was a child, homley Pamela Isley’s only “friends were the plants she tended in her families’ greenhouse. Then, in high school, the shy girl blossomed into an attractive young woman, and suddenly found herself beset with would-be boyfriends. Insecure Pamela was scared by the attention, and withdrew even more. Then, one day while she was working alone in the greenhouse, a gang of young toughs surprised and attacked her. During the struggle some heat lamps shattered, sparking a fire. Pamela escaped, but as she watched the greenhouse burn, she swore that she would find a way to use and humiliate all men for the way she was abused.
Wait, unless they just didn’t write in that she was raped (which we all know is something that happens to women–according to male writers) why is she blaming men? All we know that when she became a pretty girl guys were hitting on her. We don’t even know they were jerks about it and just wanted to sleep with her. Okay, some punks decided to attack her, but you have to already have a problem with men to use this as motivation to become a supervillain. The first Killer Frost had a better reason, and all she dealt with was being turned down by the professor she had a mad crush on. (That professor just happened to also be one-half of Firestorm at the time.) Going by the description alone she was a shy girl who got attacked by some goons and now hates all men. It doesn’t quite work.
After years of study, Pamela devised a “love potion” extracted from rare plants and used it to bend men to her will. Adopting the name Poison Ivy, the girl began a life of crime, taking wealthy men for all they had. In their first encounter, Ivy tried unsuccessfully to use her potion on the Batman, but he had already analyzed traces of the potion from her other victims and had fortified himself with an antidote. Because Batman was the first man she couldn’t seduce, Ivy developed a warped infatuation with him. Her goal is to enslave his heart by whatever means possible.
Again I’m confused, but this time it’s compared to what we see in the show. There was an episode I THINK in which Ivy used her mind-controlling kiss or some other method to get wealthy men to give her money, but that’s not her MO, and neither is trying to win over Batman. She tries to kill him instead, like any other villain. Also, we see her first appearance and it was leading pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent into a trap because the Stonegate Prison he pushed for was on the same land as some rare flowers and she wanted revenge for the flowers, not some war on all men. There was a huge change between bible and show.
(Also, lets face it. With a body like that and a face to match did she NEED a love potion to control men into giving her money and other stuff?)
Poison Ivy has a unique metabolism which makes her body immune to all poisons. Consequently, she can handle virtually any toxin and frequently uses them in her crimes. Her own costume is cut to look like leaves of poison oak and ivy, and coated with the noxious oils of those plants. This alone makes Poison Ivy a hard girl to hand onto.
Missing from all of this is not only her ecological motivations but her ability to control plants and her later inclination to create plant monsters. We do see her using various plant-based chemicals to attack the people of Gotham, though.
Finally we come to Ra’s Al Ghul, which allegedly translates to “The Demon’s Head”. I’m not sure in which language, but for a guy who thinks he’s saving a planet, you’d think he would name himself after an angel, not a demon.
A master criminal with an international organization, the mysterious Ra’s al Ghul is bent on nothing less complete world-wide control. His genius mentally rivals Batman’s, and he’s the only man to logically and deductively reason that the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne are one and the same.
Of course it helps when your overly devoted daughter (she did allow Ra’s to take over her body once the Lazarus Pit stopped working for him after all) tells you what Batman looks like unmasked.
Though seeming to be a remarkably well-conditioned man in his mid-fifties, Ghul is decades, perhaps centuries, older. Thanks to the Lazarus Pit (a mixture of exotic, mystical chemicals) Ghul’s followers have brought their leader back from the dead countless times. Ghul says he can never rest until his dream of a perfect world is realized. A world without hunger, disease, and fear, and also a world that recognizes him as absolute master. The fact that he frequently uses extortion, terrorism, and murder to accomplish his goals is irrelevant to Ghul. The vision of his perfect world must be maintained at all costs, and if some people get crushed in the process, he believes it’s a small price to pay.
Bet he’s the life of the party.
Despite his ruthlessness, Ra’s al Ghul does have a strong sense of honor where Batman is concerned. Ghul looks upon the Dark Knight as his ultimate challenge, and perhaps a someday successor to his global empire if he can be turned to his will.
It is explained during the show that the power of the Lazarus Pit to restore to life is finite. A person can only be restored so many times, hence the aforementioned body snatching. His reasoning is different from the Christopher Nolan version, where his idea of ending corruption is to kill everybody.
Toward this end Ghul has stacked the odds in his favor by making his beautiful daughter Talia part of his schemes to ensnare Batman. Like her father, Talia is brilliant tactician and a masterful warrior. There is a great deal of heat between her and Batman, but her father’s villainous dealings have always tainted the relationship in Batman’s mind. Still, neither Ra’s nor Talia have admitted defeat yet, and they hope to eventually sway him to their side.
Batman’s better off with Catwoman. At least she only steals stuff, not flatten the world.
Our next installment will look at the rest of the villains in the show bible, since except for Scarecrow none of them have more than a quick blurb.