Future State: Swamp Thing opens with the end of the world, and yet it never quite feels entirely bleak.
Sure, there are moments when you get to see how Earth has moved on without the majority of the humans that once walked it, but the focus of this book is primarily on Swamp Thing and the family he has made from the dirt to keep him company after the end. Much of the issue is built around these characters interacting and squabbling like any family would, broken up by stunning anatomical illustrations that show Swamp Thing’s process of creating his new family.
This book, in all of the right ways, feels like something from the Vertigo years of the character. Even with all of the darker elements, there’s an almost fairy tale vibe to the story. Swamp Thing has become an elder god, watching over the world that was saved at a horrible cost. There are hints that there was more to the destruction of humanity than Swamp Thing is letting on, but this first issue is much more concerned with setting the scene and letting us get to know the characters.
And the characters are all interesting, with their own wants and needs, which seems to even surprise the being who created them. This joy of discovery is evident throughout Ram V’s script, as Calla and Heather pore over the stories told to them by Swamp Thing, and the puckish Indigo finds holes in the old tree’s tales.
Mike Perkins’ art is both expressive and mournful, showing the excitement in the younger plants’ eyes as Swamp Thing shares his knowledge of the old world. It also paints a picture of Swamp Thing as a being of deep regret and sorrow, cursed with a terrible sense of humanity still inside of him.
June Chung’s colors bring out even more of the life within these characters. As the title character would suggest, there’s a good bit of green on display, but there’s so much more. The foliage that covers the world has seen many seasons since humanity started to disappear, and the rusted buildings and dusty remnants of old fires make that clear. Also, I have to give a special mention to the appearance of Indigo, who brings to mind the “My Blue Heaven” incarnation of Swamp Thing from the ’80s.
Aditya Bidikar’s lettering gives every character a unique voice, with Swamp Thing’s words seeming to be just as tired as he is. Every element of this issue comes together to tell as Swamp Thing story that feels so familiar, even though it’s markedly different from anything we’ve seen the character go through before.
The script cleverly hides several revelations from the reader, saving a surprise character return for the final page. This issue may be a bit challenging for readers unfamiliar with Swamp Thing, but one thing is for certain: Swamp Thing fans will find so much to love in this first issue.
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