Category Archives: Swamp Thing

The Swamp Thing #7 – Review


The Swamp Thing #7

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Published by DC Comics

Released – 8/9/2021

As we rejoin our friend in the swamp, we find him still entangled with Suicide Squad in the Kaziranga Forest. This is shown to great effect on yet another eye catching cover from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer. Peacemaker and his ragtag band are the red taint here, surrounded by the imposing presence of The Swamp Thing who seeks to contain them, remove their blight from The Green and from Kaziranga. This thematic contrast used throughout the story so far is really effective and often adds an extra element to many of the scenes.

Following on from the cliff-hanger last issue, we find The Suicide Squad picking up the pieces, almost literally. Some darkly atmospheric and intense scenes which call to mind the finest moments of the Predator film lead us to the title page for ‘In My Infancy part 2’. It is at once fascinating, beautiful and perfectly executed. Striking and memorable title pages have been something of a signature for this series, and this is no exception.

As we read on and Swamp Thing tangles further with the remaining members of Suicide Squad, the action is interwoven with explorations of memory, previously used as a means of recovery and growth, now manipulated and exposed at the whim of Nightmare Nurse. As she peels back the layers, Levi is forced to revisit his relationship with father and brother, his alienation from his own people, his lingering torment… Through these sequences, it’s apparent that Levi’s inner battles rival any physical struggle he may encounter.

History, folklore and belief play strong roles here, with the impact of colonialism and industrialisation looming large. Part of the Guardian of The Green is tradition or memory but in Levi, it is also progress, a striving for something new and better. Between Nightmare Nurse and Chemo, we find both Levi and The Green attacked in more ways than one. Perhaps his unique perspective will enable Levi to face these threats as Swamp Thing in a way no other could.

Once again, from start to finish, this is superlative stuff. The writing, art and lettering all form a symbiosis wherein each inform the other, where words and art come together to create perfect comic book storytelling moments. It’s a book where we get to learn things, to investigate, if we are so inclined. There is an unusual geography here which is almost a character itself, especially when viewed through the lens of history and anthropology. This might sound like this is a dry, academic story but nothing could be further from the truth; every panel, every moment is exciting. It just so happens that there is substance supporting the action, the interactions.

Ram V’s dialogue and narration, brought to life through Aditya Bidikar’s always impressive lettering, bring us entirely convincing moments of human experience, enhanced ever further by pitch-perfect work from the art team. No matter if we are seeing Levi’s shared moments with his father or his struggle as Swamp Thing as he grapples physical horrors, we are always right there with him.
Through the work of this incredible creative team, we can experience something akin to synaesthesia as we read, take in images and turn pages. We get to smell, hear, feel, maybe even taste through drawings, colours and words of great quality and depth. This is a comic which takes us way beyond our world in the best of ways.


Verdict

There’s a bittersweet sense building as I read and review this series; this is already issue 7 of 10. It’s therefore soon to end, and I’d really prefer it didn’t. I have every confidence that this limited run will be resolved in a satisfying way and yet I’m just as sure I’ll be left wanting more. It’s a great time to be into comics; there are plenty of good titles around. This is not just a good comic. It’s a great one. Read it if you can.


Review by Andy Flood, 12/10/21

The Swamp Thing #6 – Review

The Swamp Thing #6

Reviewed by Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released: 4/8/2021

In the wake of ‘Survivor Bomb’, we come to issue 6 wondering ‘what’s next?’ and find Swamp Thing, looming from the dark of a forest, rain all around, a thermographic crosshair tracking his enraged form.  Every cover for this run has been a stand-out example of the form and this is no exception.  Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer’s cover work is exemplary and telegraphs some of the amazing visual storytelling to be found within.

Turning to the first page, we find a sinister aircraft, bristling with weaponry, framed against an infernal sky above a lush forest.  We are in Kaziranga Forest, India and, as the story unfolds against this striking backdrop, we see further aspects of the taint in The Green.

The double spread title page of ‘In My Infancy’ is astounding.  As a portrayal of Levi Kamei’s return to being through confused transformative process, it is note perfect.  As he writhes and wrestles with his strange rebirth over thirty-two immaculate panels, we then go on to see Levi is immediately under threat as the Suicide Squad touch down, tasked with his capture.  Believing the deployment of a bio-agent to have prepared the battlefield in their favour, Peacemaker, Nightmare Nurse, Heat Wave, Parasite and Chemo deploy with ill-placed confidence.

They are a task force in name only, and are clearly at odds with one another.  Even as they close in, Levi is faced with a Green that is diminishing.  He delves into memory, to tap into the depths of the Green’s power and so, as the action unfolds, we have momentary insights into Levi’s past and his struggles with family and identity.  It’s a phenomenal episode, which moves effortlessly from moments of brutality to glimpses of tender tranquility.

And I’ve no idea how they’re doing it.  Reading Swamp Thing is like witnessing comic book witchcraft; what strange, eldritch secrets do the creators employ to weave something this good?  Every page is surprising, be it mystifying, uplifting, thrilling or horrifying, each one, every panel, is of such high quality that it’s impossible not to be hugely impressed and entertained.

Ram V’s writing meshes perfectly with the deft and inventive lettering of Aditya Bidikar; with the always incredible lines of Mike Perkins’ art; with the vibrant, near tangible colours of Mike Spicer… It’s such a tour-de-force of complimentary talents that to break it down into analysis of each element as a separate entity seems like the wrong approach.  With every issue, we are transported as we read, our every sense somehow engaged and our imaginations fired up.

From quiet moments drinking tea through to loud, nasty displays of violence, we are fully immersed.  And always, the story moves forward, we come to know more of our hero and understand perhaps a little more of what is going on while glimpsing a hint of what lies ahead.  The final splash page is not only a superb piece of art but bears the words ‘to be continued…’ Rarely have I been so glad to have more to look forward to.


Verdict

Everything about this book is the absolute best of what comics have to offer.  I’m convinced that this 10 issue run will be considered a classic by a great many people.  I already count myself among them.  Swamp Thing comes with the highest possible praise and is unreservedly recommended.


Review by Andy Flood, 7/10/21


The Swamp Thing #5 Review


The Swamp Thing #5
Reviewed by Andy Flood
Written by: Ram V
Art: John McCrea
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

I’ve been looking forward to this issue of The Swamp Thing with genuine excitement, knowing that it would feature one of my favourite characters, John Constantine. Memories of his appearance in The Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing tales are still among my fondest when it comes to comics; seeing him lead Alec Holland through a dark, arcane and twisted learning journey was, and still is, a real treat. Fast forward to today and we have John joining Levi Kamei, latest Guardian of The Green to tackle a problem or two in ‘Survivor Bomb’.


I’ve been looking forward to this issue of The Swamp Thing with genuine excitement, knowing that it would feature one of my favourite characters, John Constantine. Memories of his appearance in The Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing tales are still among my fondest when it comes to comics; seeing him lead Alec Holland through a dark, arcane and twisted learning journey was, and still is, a real treat. Fast forward to today and we have John joining Levi Kamei, latest Guardian of The Green to tackle a problem or two in ‘Survivor Bomb’.

The original cover for this issue features yet more great art from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer, depicting a bomb as part of the taint in The Green, red tendrils creeping forth and spreading their ills. It’s perhaps more directly emblematic of the interior story than the striking variant cover from Brian Bolland, who paints a more monstrous Swamp Thing, all shadows, claws dripping ichor and fierce glare. It is a dark and more symbolic cover, though both are excellent and leave the reader curious about what lies within.

The bulk of ‘Survivor Bomb’ takes place in London and opens in suitably dreary scenes of rain and dimly lit rooms. Just as Sierra Kirre calls on old magic and old ties to summon Constantine to help her find a friend, so too is Levi pulled into The Green and drawn to London. We learn of a darkness there centred around an unexploded bomb from World War II. Its insidious influence has been having serious repercussions, spreading and inciting hate, building on the tensions already present in the city.

Sierra’s friend Nigel is embroiled in this situation and, as the three main characters meet and work to save both him and the city beyond, we see the impact of human thought and action. Its ripples are evident both in the scenes of war and those in modern day London. They are seen further still as red taint in The Green. There is more here than bombs and hate…

Ram V continues to impress with his writing, handling a story that functions both as a standalone and as part of a larger arc. That he weaves in history, metaphysics and philosophy while still keeping us excited and engaged is quite a feat. As ever, we have the enticing sense of everything having meaning, of being interlinked. He presents Constantine in a very cool way and it’s clear that Ram V’s time spent with the character on Justice League dark has given him a great feel for how to work with him. Dialogue and narration are superb throughout and are supported and presented wonderfully by Aditya Bidikar’s lettering.

Artwork for this story is handled by John McCrea, who gives us hugely atmospheric scenes which retain the feel of the book so far while also giving tastes of his own distinct style. Every panel is one we are encouraged to return to after first reading so that we might see some detail we missed first time or indeed, just to enjoy the incredible visuals. When paired with Mike Spicer’s unique colours, we are transported through shifting landscapes of magic and tragedy. Atypical and very clever palette choices always serve to enhance our experience of the book. There is not a single lacklustre page to be found here.


Verdict

‘Survivor Bomb’ is another issue of Swamp Thing full of texture and nuance and is entertaining from start to finish. The appearance of John Constantine doesn’t disappoint and brings a deeper sense of the magical themes which have characterised and enhanced previous Swamp Thing stories. This series is nothing short of phenomenal and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


(Recommended by DC for readers age 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 2/9/21


The Swamp Thing #4 Review


The Swamp Thing #4 Reviewer: Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V

Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar



Released 2/6/21Published by DC Comics

Grasping hands, plant cells and dark ambiguity fill the cover of ‘My Green Amaranthine Part 2’.  It’s a wonderfully atmospheric piece of art which mirrors the tone of the comic within.

We are led further through The Green by guides both fair and shady as the sense of mystery and revelation deepens.  There is a feeling of experiencing this strange journey of discovery alongside Levi and Jennifer as they come to understand more about this elemental realm and the peril within.  With characters appearing which will be familiar to both long time Swamp Thing fans and fans of DC as a whole, this is an interesting an exciting chapter.

It’s a story on a cosmic scale and I am astounded at the ease with which Ram V guides us through it.  Themes of collective consciousness, memory and the interconnectedness of living things are explored.  The dialogue and narration are convincing and enthralling throughout, and Ram V deftly uses these as tools to inform and entertain us.  It would be so easy to become lost in The Green along with the protagonists and yet we emerge thrilled and enlightened.

‘The line work is detailed and inventive while the colours are lush and immersive’

A big part of translating such epic concepts and events to the page falls to the artists, and once again, the team of Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer exceed expectations.  Each page gives us art which manages to not only recall echoes of Swamp Thing past but also surprise us with visuals which are new and fresh.  The line work is detailed and inventive while the colours are lush and immersive.  There are so many details and subtle colour cues here that it really invites the reader to linger and enjoy the spectacle.

Further immersion is provided by Aditya Bidikar’s lettering, which not only uses cleverly differentiated bubbles but also brings us a brilliant way to represent a fading voice.  His work on this series so far has really enhanced the story and our experience of it.

As this issue draws to a close, we have not only a teaser of things to come but are also left with a sense of having enjoyed something rather special.  It’s sometimes easy to overlook the elements comprising a comic and just take it all in.  And that’s great; but maybe, just maybe, stay a while… look a little closer… read between the lines… you’ll be happy you did.


Verdict

The Swamp Thing #4 continues to impress and amaze.  The creators are doing something incredible here and I hope people sit up and take notice.  It’s a comic to pore over; to show your friends so you can talk about it afterward; a comic to treasure.  Track it down, find a good place to read, and get ready for one memorable ride.


(Recommended by DC for readers 13+)

Reviewed by Andy Flood – 13/7/21


The Swamp Thing #3 Review

The Swamp Thing #3

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

This issue, we’re first greeted by an eye-catching cover which feels almost as if it could be a distant relative of the old absinthe green fairy posters.  Although it reveals the appearance of both Ivy and Poison Ivy before the story does, it does a great job of making you want to pick up and read on.

As we do so, there is some really inventive sequential art depicting Levi’s CT scan and initial transformation as he and Jennifer try to understand what he is going through when he becomes The Swamp Thing.  As Jennifer is pulled along for the ride into ‘The Green’, some of the secrets and mysteries of this elemental place are revealed to us, along with some of its well known denizens.  It’s a thrilling experience as we travel along with them, encountering incredible things and facing new questions.

Again, the creative team have given us a wonderful title page and this time out, there is a very clever title to boot.  ‘My Green Amaranthine’ refers very neatly to the nature of The Swamp Thing while also describing his appearance (amaranth being an immortal flower or a herb/weed with colourful leaves and spikes of flowers – I had to look it up).

This careful and clever use of words is one of the things that sets Ram V apart as a writer; others being chiefly his command of dialogue and pacing.  Here, he encapsulates a very alien experience, full of strangeness and awe, and somehow makes it relatable for us as readers.

As Levi and Jennifer journey through The Green (an important realm in Swamp Thing lore), the creators of this comic do a wonderful job of ensuring each and every step is compelling, mystifying, unsettling, exciting; sometimes all at once.  The art is phenomenal throughout, never failing to give us a true sense of what lies in this strange place.  There’s a lot to take in during this issue and the skilled lettering of Aditya Bidikar ensures that we enjoy the process, marking each character with their own unique style.

By the time we reach the end, we’re left breathless and yet wanting more, as larger events are hinted at…

Verdict

My Green Amaranthine is yet another excellent issue in this new run for Swamp Thing.  It has something for old and new readers alike and the quality imbued by its creators fills every page and makes for a hugely enjoyable read.  Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson (co-creators of Swamp Thing) would be proud.

Review by Andy Flood, 24/6/21

The Swamp Thing #2 Review

The Swamp Thing #2

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar



‘Becoming, Part 2’ arrives with a cover showing us Levi Kamei, mid-transformation, full of cosmic horror and faced with his dark desert counterpart. It’s a dramatic image which sets the tone for what awaits us within.

We rejoin Levi in the aftermath of his first jarring encounter with the Pale Wanderer.
Counter to the oft-used secret identity, he shares his seemingly insane experiences with his friend, Jennifer. He is then drawn into a horrifying sequence of ‘lessons’ back out in the Sonoran Desert; the Pale Wanderer his unlikely and unwelcome mentor. This
happens over the course of yet another spectacular title spread, the first issue having
treated us to a similarly impressive title page.

Through the course of this issue, we learn more of Levi’s past, see that he is being
surveilled, and revisit the Arizona sheriff as he tries to process his unbelievable encounter. All of this precedes an epic showdown between Swamp Thing and the Wanderer, who might well prove to be two sides of an ancient coin. We’re given further mysteries to unravel and even a brief cameo from a very well known DC hero.

If it’s not already clear, the creative team have done a wonderful job on this issue. Ram V’s writing is again, superb. Supported ably by the quality lettering of Aditya Bidikar, Ram V’s grasp of plotting and character development shine through, giving us countless memorable moments drenched in atmosphere and enigma.

The visual identity of this title is already so strong, with the team of Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer ensuring that every page is a treat. While each scene has its own distinct feel, there is no doubt that they exist as part of a cohesive whole.

Verdict

The Swamp Thing #2 shows us a creative team in synch and using their talents to great effect. It’s the sort of comic that rewards return visits; revealing fine details or hints that the reader might have missed the first time. It’s clear that the pebble cast into the pond by events in these early issues will generate some pretty big ripples. Bring on issue 3!
(Recommended for ages 13+)


Review by Andy Flood, 24/6/21

The Swamp Thing #1 Review

The Swamp Thing #1

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

From out of the beyond, a new run of ‘The Swamp Thing’ looms!  Our first cover is a striking one, depicting some of the terrible torment that Levi Kamei experiences during his transformation into the titular being.  This is a great first cover and hints at some of the fever dream yet to come.

‘Becoming, Part 1’: the story opens on a gruesome crime scene in the Sonoran Desert, shrouded in dark folklore.  We then hop aboard a flight from India to join our protagonist, who is clearly not having a good time.  Levi Kamei is significant not only for being the new ‘Guardian of the Green’/Swamp Thing but also as DC Comics’ first Indian lead.  He is instantly relatable and promises to be an interesting character to follow.

As we cut from Levi’s return to New York back to the grisly scene in the desert, we meet a twisted, horrific figure of legend: The Pale Wanderer.  As the sheriff faces this nightmare unfolding, Levi wrestles both with his past and the uncertainty of what he is becoming.  The closing scenes show a pivotal encounter and give exciting hints of what is yet to come.

Ram V has written something very special here, with dialogue that informs character and propels the story forwards.  Each story beat is expertly handled, from the deputy recounting the myth of the Pale Wanderer through to the dramatic exchanges of the closing pages.  He conveys the emotion and atmosphere of each moment perfectly, drawing us into the dusty world of the desert just as easily as the fragmented recollections of Levi.  The effect of Ram V’s words is amplified by some excellent lettering by Aditya Bidikar, who gives us subtle reading cues along with easily identifiable ‘voices’ through the use of clear type and varied bubbles.  The speech of the Pale Wanderer, for example, is as black as the crude he drinks.

We are immersed even further by the wonderful art from Mike Perkins who, along with exemplary colour work from Mike Spicer, uses a broad range of comic techniques to engage our imaginations.  Soon we are transported beyond the page and into a dark and mystifying world.  Although the images are at times gruesome, they are never gratuitous and always serve the scene.  Shifts in tone, palette and style help guide us through a jam-packed first issue through to its thrilling conclusion.

Verdict

This premier issue of ‘The Swamp Thing’ is outstanding.  It instantly hooks the reader and doesn’t let go.  The combination of masterful writing and art feel a lot like the early days of Vertigo comics (a line DC used to tell darker, ‘mature’ themed stories) while also being entirely fresh and modern.  The cast of characters is great and the plot threads entangling them are intriguing.  Read Swamp Thing today.  It’s going to be a seriously good ride.

(Recommended for ages 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 23/6/21