The Swamp Thing #10 – Review

This issue goes on to resolve and simultaneously expand on story threads established early in the series and it is an absolutely outstanding read!


The Swamp Thing #10

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

Well, it happened! DC has extended the run for Swamp Thing from the initial 10 issues to 16. I heard this great news a little while back and, soon after, was lucky enough to attend the Thought Bubble festival in Harrogate, U.K. where both Ram V and Mike Perkins were special guests and panelists discussing Swamp Thing. Both guys were a real pleasure and honour to meet and were all too happy to engage with their fans. They hinted (in very cryptic terms) about things to come, and I’m more sure than ever that we’re in for quite the ride.

Returning to the issue at hand, we have a cover that compels all readers of issue 9 to find out what happens next as Levi faces Jacob in the bowels of the Prescot facility. Mr. Pilgirm has escaped and has initiated protocols to engage a cryo-purge of his now ruined research facility. It’s a dramatic and striking piece of art, with Swamp Thing looking truly anguished, with Jacob’s ‘inverse silhouette’ bringing to mind the after-image of people left on the walls of Pompeii.

It’s a stark contrast then when we open the comic to find scenes of Levi and Jacob playing together as boys; carefree and happy against a warm Indian sunset. Juxtaposed with these images from Levi’s past are musings on Nature’s memory, specifically trees; referred to here as ‘silent sentinels’. This internal monologue from Swamp Thing is beautifully written by Ram V, carrying us over several scene cuts, and is thought-provoking while never becoming preachy.

As Jennifer tries desperately and futilely to dissuade Mr. Pilgrim from activating the fail-safe, Levi wrestles with his regrets while physically wrestling his enraged brother. It seems there is little hope for them as Pilgrim floods their surrounding with liquid nitrogen and the bio-agent used to subdue Kaziranga Forest.

The panels flow brilliantly throughout all of this, showcasing Mike Perkins’ immense talent for art and sequential storytelling. When I asked him about his approach on Swamp Thing, he said he basically lets the pen guide him and the lines follow; it’s an organic process. This certainly accounts for some of the incredible artwork he has brought us over the past ten issues but more so speaks to his incredible modesty. He was also quick to give credit to Mike Spicer, and rightly so. Quite how he manages to bring so much added depth and emotion to each scene with his colours is beyond explanation. Add to this, the ever immersive, inventive, and clear lettering from Aditya Bidikar, and you have a recipe for visual perfection.

This issue goes on to resolve and simultaneously expand on story threads established early in the series and it is an absolutely outstanding read. There are appearances from the established Swamp Thing canon or mythos which will thrill long-time readers while piquing the curiosity of those joining at the start of this run. There are many classic Swamp Thing moments and some that feel very much a part of this new and fresh take.

That Ram V and his creative partners have brought something so uniquely ‘theirs’ while also remaining very respectful of the source material (often referring to it through various panels) is hugely impressive. Certainly, during the Thought Bubble panel I attended and in a brief conversation with both Ram V and Mike Perkins, it’s clear they are huge fans of Swamp Thing in all his incarnations. They seem to genuinely enjoy working and indeed, conspiring together, enjoying a shorthand that leads to comic book excellence.

Some heavy hints were dropped that when the ‘season two’ run of this title commences in March, there will be some NDA-protected cameos (make of that what you will!) and much more of the things we have come to love from this title.


Verdict

Swamp Thing has been awarded a second series with very good reason. Each issue of its initial run has ticked all the boxes; with writing, lettering, art, and colours all being exemplary and combining to make something truly special. Whether it be in the current format or in the hoped-for trade collection, I cannot recommend the work of Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer and Aditya Bidikar highly enough. Reading Swamp Thing has been a truly memorable experience so far; thanks, guys! Here’s to season two!


Review by Andy Flood, 18/1/22




The Swamp Thing #9 – Review

Following the events of ‘In My Infancy’, Ram V and company bring us to a new chapter, ‘Conduit’.

The Swamp Thing #9

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released -Nov 2021

The cover for issue 9 feels like a promotional poster for a title fight, more so with the tagline ‘Brother vs. Brother’. This continues a vibe established by Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer on the title page of last issue, only here Levi/Swamp Thing faces his brother Jacob as the warped, vengeful perversion of the Green he has become. It’s powerful stuff, exuding the inner turmoil of both characters. Perhaps fight promoters ought to be approaching these guys to do some poster work…

Following the events of ‘In My Infancy’, Ram V and company bring us to a new chapter, ‘Conduit’. Part one opens on Jennifer Reece (Levi Kamei’s close friend/love interest) being ‘escorted’ through an imposing facility to meet with the apparent mastermind behind the machinations of the Prescot corporation. Mr. Pilgrim seems to know a lot about her, Levi and the Swamp Thing and, perhaps more dangerously, hints at considerable knowledge of The Green.

We then cut to New York and Levi trying to visit Jennifer, only to discover her missing. What follows is classic Swamp Thing and shows a much more ‘in-tune’, self-assured Levi as he puts his abilities to work tracking Jennifer down.

The story goes from there, with Ram V giving us a matter-of-fact ‘villain’ in Mr. Pilgrim, who goes on to outline his version of the big picture. In his hubris, he is quite unaware of the doom that approaches. It’s not long before chaos unfolds, with Jacob arriving to lay waste to the Prescot site.

As ever, this is a compelling read, initially offering a few moments to breathe following last issue’s action packed, fast paced events. Ram V does a great job of revealing the man behind the curtain while also showing us a more confident Levi alongside a further portrait of his brother, Jacob. The history of Prescot an Mr. Pilgrim’s involvement with Swamp Thing and The Green unfolds over a fascinating and brilliantly executed double page spread; one of many highlights in this issue.

Mike Perkins brings us everything here, from clever use of organic structures as both frames and panel elements through to inventive action and intricately rendered human emotion. His artwork is consistently amazing and is always perfectly complimented by Mike Spicer’s colours, whose palettes guide our subconscious mind as we read. Every colour choice has a purpose, beyond the function of looking good. Spicer makes a lab seem cold, a person seem even angrier, a moment of violence all the more unsettling.

As an interesting side note here on the subject of colours, at a recent panel discussing Swamp Thing, Mike Perkins and Ram V talked about some of the palette used in the title and its predecessors. Apparently, forests and swamps are often rendered in shades of purple so that Swamp Thing can stand out against the backdrop (avoiding a green-on-green mush of confusion). We can see this on not only the cover of issue 9 but in several interior panels as well.


Verdict

From cover to cover, this is an outstanding experience, with one of the best creative teams bringing us one of the best titles. It holds so much for the reader to engage with and gives us characters and events that we actually care about. And after all that, it’s full of cool things that we can check out again and again and say ‘wow’ to. I know I’m a proverbial stuck record on this, but Swamp Thing really is just that good.


Review by Andy Flood, 17/1/22



The Swamp Thing #7 – Review

This is a comic which takes us way beyond our world in the best of ways…


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

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…

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

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…


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

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…


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