Overview: In Poison Ivy: Thorns, we meet a teenage Pamela Isely who shows us her love for the plants and their love for her. With Pam, not everything is roses, as there is darkness and thorns.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): It is midnight as Poison Ivy: Thorns begins, and a cloaked female kneels before a tree in despair. She has failed to save this park. She tried petitions and protests but all her efforts have failed. With tears in her eyes, she decides to make them suffer. She smashes a vial on the ground and a gas is seen rising. The woman, a redhead with green eyes covers her head with a hood and she runs out of Bailey Park.
In the morning, a man is seen watching a news broadcast, reporting on the strange gasses that have halted the deforestation project at Bailey Park. A redhead hurries down the steps to go to school. The man, the father wishes Pamela good morning. The man is a scientist and he has a home lab. He has noticed that some things have been tampered with. Pamela admits that the gas at the park is her doing and the man, Dr. Isely tells her that she needs to be careful. Pamela responds with “I know”. They have to be careful to protect the family secrets.
It is Friday morning at Huxley High School. We meet some of Pamela’s classmates. A goth girl blushes and says hi to the redhead. This girl is not the only one to notice Pamela this morning. A boy by the name of Brett and his crew are standing in the distance talking about the homecoming dance. Brett tells his pals that the real fun was after the dance. That is when the three boys notice Pamela. Pamela notices their gaze and she runs off. The boys notice how attractive the girl is but she is also pretty strange as well.
Pamela goes to visit the greenhouse on the school property. A small rose bush is struggling to grow and Pamela notices its size, it should be bigger by now. She checks on the other plants and notices that they are not getting enough sunlight. The teacher, Mr. Crowley stops by and talks to his prize student. Pamela tells the teacher that some of the plants are not thriving as they should be. Mr. Crowley encourages her by telling her that she is doing her best and her mom would be proud of her. Pamela’s mom donated the greenhouse to the school. Pamela’s mom is a botanist who has been away on a research trip.
Inside the school, Brett finally catches up to Pamela, or as he calls her “Pammy”. He wants to ask her out for a date, and Pamela is not interested. The goth girl from the morning, Alice, arrives to Pamela’s rescue and Brett leaves the two girls. The two walk off and Alice gives a big yawn. She is very tired because her family who lives near the park had to evacuate because of the gas that was released there the night before. Pamela rushes off apologizing to Mr. Crowley’s chemistry class.
After school, Dr. Isely comes home and tells his daughter that he needs her help downstairs. The two head downstairs. At midnight, Pamela is jolted awake, she is sick to her stomach and runs to the bathroom to vomit. Afterward, moaning is heard throughout the mansion. Pamela returns to bed in tears and buries her head in the pillows to dampen the sound from her ears.
It is the morning and Pam wakes up to find a note from her father. He has been called to the hospital for a consult leaving Pamela home all day by herself. She cleans and opens the curtains to allow the sunlight to reach the plants in the mansion. When Dr. Isely returns, he tells her to close the curtains, he wants to keep their family matters private. The secrets again.
Dr. Isely tells Pam that Alice Oh, the goth girl who happens to be the daughter of one of Isely’s colleagues is moving in because of her family having to evacuate. The Isely Mansion is closer to school so Alice will be staying there until the gas clears up. It will be harder to keep the secrets.
Alice arrives Sunday morning. Dr. Isely tells his daughter that even though the two girls are close, she can only trust family. Pamela goes out to meet her friend.
Sunday afternoon, Pamela takes Alice for a tour of the mansion. It is weird but Alice likes the aesthetic of the place. Pamela goes to show Alice her room when a picture frame falls over. The photograph in the frame is Pamela’s mom, Lillian. Alice wonders aloud where the woman is and is interrupted by Dr. Isely, he tells the girl that Lillian is away on a research trip in the rainforest studying some rare plants there. Dr. Isely whispers to his daughter that after Alice goes to bed, he needs her help in the basement and she needs to make sure that Alice does not get suspicious.
At two in the morning, Pamela is sick in the bathroom. Alice knocks on the door, she is concerned about her friend. Pamela allows her in, Alice asks if Pamela is pregnant. Pamela is shocked by the question, she has never slept with a boy. Alice tells Pam that she overheard Brett bragging about sleeping with the redhead. Brett is a liar and a jerk. Alice notices that Pam may have a fever and applies a cold compress to her head. This surprises Pam, she is not used to anyone taking care of her since her mom left for her trip. Pamela tells her friend about her wonderful plant-loving mother. She even wanted to name her daughter Ivy but her father vetoed that idea and they two settled on Pamela. Now Alice notices that Pam’s eyes are a vivid green and the moaning starts. Alice wants to find the source and Pam insists that it is the old pipes of the mansion and they need to get some sleep, school is in the morning,
Poison Ivy: Thorns continues Monday morning at Huxley High, Brett approaches Pam and puts his hand on her shoulder. He teases her in front of his buddies and Pamela tells the boy that he is disgusting, and they did not sleep together. Brett then tells her that is not everyone else has heard. Alice urges Pamela to stand up for herself and she will support her. This encourages Pamela to meet the principal.
Principal Carlson listens to the girl in front of him but he also does not listen. Brett’s family is very influential and wealthy. The only problem is that the family wants to turn Bailey Park into a business complex. Carlson also tells Pamela that she does comply with the dress code but she might want to change how she looks, she is accused of drawing attention on herself. Pam runs out of the office and heads straight home, her father is right, she cannot trust anyone.
The next scene in Poison Ivy: Thorns shows us exactly how Pam is helping her father. She is lying on a table with an IV in her arm and she is screaming in agony. She suffers a cardiac arrest and Dr. Isely uses the paddles to revive his own daughter. She pleads with her father to stop and he tells her to stop being overly dramatic. She continues to protest and he grabs his daughter’s arm and takes her upstairs. He shows her mother in a coma and lying In a hospital bed in the attic. She is dying and Dr. Isely needs Pamela to help him find a cure.
At midnight Alice knocks on Pamela’s door. She asks to come in. Pamela tells Alice what Carlson told her and she is going to take Alice’s advice and stand up for herself. The moaning starts and Alice asks to stay with Pam for the night. Later after Alice falls asleep, Pamela goes up to the attic and it is revealed that the moaning is actually coming from Lillian. Pam starts to talk to her mom about how her dad has changed and that he has become terrifying since she fell sick. She is interrupted by a shocked and terrified Alice, who sees the sick woman in the bed.
Pam rushes Alice out of the room and tells her to forget what she has seen and tells her that if Dr. Isely finds out he will kill them both. Pam runs to Bailey Park. She hears voices and comes across a rose bush in the park, it is huge and Pamela realizes that it was the chemicals that caused the rapid growth. She rushes back to her father’s lab and gathers the chemicals she used to create the gas cloud and then goes to the greenhouse at school to try out her concoction. Alice comes in telling her that they need to talk.
Pam tells Alice that Lillian came back from her trip in the summer and shortly afterward, she developed a sickness that led to her coma. Dr. Isely insists that they are the only ones that can help the sick woman and that the family cannot trust anyone. He is actually testing his hypothetical cures on his daughter. Dr. Isely has changed and it scares his daughter. Pam then shows Alice the vial and it is here that she admits that she caused the gas cloud that led to the sicknesses of the nearby residents and the forced evacuation of Alice’s family. Alice is shocked and storms out as Mr. Cowley comes in.
Brett runs into Pamela and continues to harass the girl. She shoves him down the stairs and tells Brett’s friends that he lied about sleeping with her. Brett vows revenge.
Mr. Cowley finds Pamela and starts to ask her questions. This prompts Pamela to find Alice and confront her about telling the teacher what she saw in the mansion. Alice insists that she did not tell anyone, she wants Pam to trust her. Suddenly Pam feels pain and she can hear the plants screaming. She runs to the greenhouse and finds the greenhouse destroyed. Alice runs to get Mr. Cowley. Pam leaves and she starts working in the lab. She then texts Brett and tells him that they need to talk. Pam applies some lipstick and heads out. Alice tries to stop her but thorny vines prevent the girl from interfering.
Pam goes to meet Brett at Bailey Park. She seduces the boy and the two kiss. Brett suddenly gets sick and he falls clutching his neck as a vine grabs his legs and takes the boy killing him off-panel. Pamela returns home and finds Alice. Alice tries to get Pam to listen to her and then confesses that she is in love with the redhead, The two kiss, and Alice gets sick just like Brett did before. Pamela screams that she is sorry and takes the stricken girl to the lab to prepare the antidote. She injects the girl and Alice is revived. Pamela admits that her lipstick is poisoned. She makes it for Brett and left him at the park. Alice realizes that Brett is dead and Dr. Isely finds the girls. He is furious and grabs his daughter and reaches for a syringe. Alice stabs the man’s hand with a shard of broken glass and grabs Pamela and runs off. Dr. Isely tackles Alice and Pamela tries to help but she and her father fall into a table of chemicals and some of the chemicals burn Pamela’s arm. Dr. Isely attacks Pam. Alice runs out of the room and the vines attack the doctor, protecting Pamela. Pamela runs out of the room and leaves the vines to kill Dr. Isely. The girls quickly bury Isely in the garden. They call an ambulance to take Lillian to the hospital. Dr. Oh, Alice’s mom is taking care of the sick woman at the hospital. Pam goes to see her mon and Alice explains that they found the woman in the attic after Dr. Isely left. Lillian squeezes Pam’s hand and says, Ivy. Pam runs out.
Later at the mansion, Alice tells Pam that she can stay with her family. Pam says that she can’t and the two share one more night before Pamela Isely leaves town going by the name Ivy.
Analysis: This story is fantastic. It is a young adult story and I am far from being a young adult yet I thoroughly loved this story. The plot and twists throughout are fantastic. It really showcases the friendship and love between Pam and Alice and in a sense, it is tragic in that the character that might have been hurt the worst is Alice.
The teen angst depicted is believable. I can see a popular boy like Brett being the way he is and expecting that any girl would want to be with him. It was a no-brainer for him to lie about sleeping with his crush, after all, it helps his reputation. When that lie is exposed, Brett’s reputation is so damaged that he will strike out like he did when he destroyed the greenhouse.
In a way, this story depicts the birth of Poison Ivy as being a very complex process. It involves her mother and her love for plants. The ruthlessness and slow deterioration of Peter Isely’s character leaves the character guiltless in using his daughter as a test subject, even nearly killing her more than likely several times. Yes if that was my father, I would be terrified of him myself. Isely does plant in Pamela the idea that no one can be trusted and that transforms into no one can trust Pamela Isely.
The theme of this story is very adult in nature. It ranges from eco-terrorism to domestic abuse to murder. The only real issue I have with that is that there are no consequences for the dark actions in this story. Both Brett’s and Dr. Isely’s deaths are not elaborated on other than they occurred and the girls decide to keep the secret of the various crimes that occurred.
The art is fantastic. I liked the use of the lighter text in the speech bubbles that show the characters whispering to each other. I also liked the change in Pam’s eyes. The use of the vivid color green that is shown after the experiments give the feeling that something is happening to this girl.
Editor’s Note: You can find this new original graphic novel and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this edition digitally either through Comixology or Amazon, or as a physical copy in a paperback form at Amazon.