Before her less than stellar turn in a less than stellar film, Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley was a gifted botanist and researcher who first appeared in 1966's Batman #181.
A stunning if introverted redhead, Pamela's love of plants dated back to childhood. Her interest in ecology led her to a prestigious botany program. But once there, she took up a somewhat unrequited friendship-affection for one of her plant life professors.
She soon discovered that her much beloved college professor was only using her as a test subject in an experiment involving plant toxins. As the result, she was left with a hyperactive immune system and can resist infection, contamination and, well, poison. The downside, as we all know, is that she cannot touch or be touched without poisoning others with her green toxic skin.
Once betrayed by the professor, with whom she was deeply infatuated, she turned from the square road of botany to a life of semi-serious crime.
One of the more ambiguous villainesses in comics history, Poison Ivy isn't motivated by any hard and fast pursuit. She exacts vengeance on people who abuse plants and the environment. She seduces wealthy men with poison kisses. Her allegiances are flexible, though she does share an ongoing friendship with another slighted, sinister seductress, Harley Quinn.
The character marked her 40th birthday in 2006. Her four decades in comics have given her various origins, plotlines and powers (in some instances, the ability to control all plants). Though she's primarily known for using her feminine wiles to get what she wants (much like Catwoman), we think her character has always shown much more depth and promise.
One of the more definitive tales in her mythology was writer John Francis Moore's Batman: Poison Ivy, published in 1997. These days she's hanging out in Gotham City with Harley Quinn and Catwoman in Gotham City Sirens, a new series that just reached its third issue.