From villainess to Eco-icon: The blossoming of Poison Ivy

By: Alessandra Richetto


Volume: 09
Issue: 02:Winter 2023
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2023.0023
Pages: 143-164
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Reading models
Semiotic field



Nowadays, the entertainment industry produces countless works, many exploring well-known stories or characters from different perspectives and through different media. In order to sell, superhero comics must be able to adapt to their audience. Through recurring narrative events, in which characters are rearranged by different authors, different relevant traits are gradually selected, afferent to varying codes of reading reality, which change as the semiotic field of reference changes. Thus, the ways of coding and decoding the same character at the diachronic and synchronic levels are different. This paper aims to analyse the case of Poison Ivy in terms of the differences between encoding and decoding. Created in 1966 as a femme fatale associated with venomous plants, the enemy of Batman, and a deadly poisonous seductress, it turns out that she is perceived differently today. Poison Ivy, alias Pamela Lillian Isley, is seen by today’s writers and readers as a bearer of very different values and, above all, as a bearer of strong ecological messages of hope and activism on behalf of Planet Earth. Therefore, the referential reading models and the shifts in the semiotic field that could explain how the character’s perception has changed will be studied.


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