The latest issue of Ram V and Mike Perkins’ The Swamp Thing continues Levi and Jennifer’s odyssey through the Green, where Levi’s education continues under the spirit of Alex Holland. This issue also continues the sort of Alice in Wonderland vibe of the previous issue, with the various avatars of the Green acting as different kinds of guides for both Levi and Jennifer.
This is an issue full of standout moments, both in terms of character and visuals. Levi is further cemented in the Green’s history in an incredible sequence where Alec shows him the history of the Green’s protector. Levi sees the echoes of the characters’ history like the rings of a tree, allowing both him and the reader to see the scope of the role he has taken on. Readers can catch glimpses of important moments and characters from Swamp Thing’s history, including battles with the likes of Anton Arcane and the Patchwork Man, encounters in the afterlife with the Phantom Stranger, the smiling face of a more urbane and put-together John Constantine, and even the hulking figure who stalked The House of Secrets #92 some fifty years ago.
Not only does this make for a visually stunning sequence, combining Perkins’ exceptional artwork and layouts with illustrations from some of the finest to ever draw Swamp Thing, but it also appears to send a thrilling message to longtime fans of the character: it all happened. Every battle, every loss, every new and dangerous discovery that readers have seen over five decade of Swamp Thing stories — they all happened, and they all count. Ram V has been playing with the concept of ideas and since the first arc of this series, in which the Pale Wanderer stressed to Levi and the reader that they can be a terrifyingly powerful thing.
Here, Alec Holland seems to tell us that everything from Swamp Thing’s history is still in play. Levi is the culmination of years of storytelling, a legacy that he will now carry forward. It’s exciting to see such reverence for the past and a dedication to utilizing those ideas for something wholly new. The torch feels fully passed in this issue, and I am thrilled to see what Levi does with his new knowledge. He is now the Swamp Thing — in a way, he’s every Swamp Thing, so it would seem, and I hope this team has every opportunity to dive into what that means. There are already some tantalizing threads here that seem to point toward character relationships seen in V and Perkins’ Future’s End miniseries, which has me all the more excited to follow their version of this mythos.
Perkins draws the hell out of this issue, and Mike Spicer’s colors bring everything to vivid life. Not only is there an incredible flashback/memory sequence, which is rendered as panels within vines and roots, but the whole of the Green is a marvel to behold. There are so many different shades of green at work here, and it gives every little area its own feel and personality. The character designs are exquisite, with the unraveling form of Jason Woodrue being a highlight in this issue once more. It seems that the Green is shaped by every character’s perception, which informs each of the characters’ personalities in interesting ways. For Levi, it’s a boundless world of possibility, but for Jennifer, it’s a dark and dank place with no exit.
Although it does feel like this issue wraps up rather quickly, it’s clear that Levi’s work here isn’t done. This issue sets up a number of exciting future storylines, including a run-in with one the deadliest teams in the DC Universe. It looks like this young elemental is going to have to grow up fast if he is going to survive the battle to come.
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