The Swamp Thing #7 opens with Task Force X in dire straits. The aftermath of Swamp Thing’s fight with Heat Wave is seen before we get a quick glimpse of the fight as it occurred. Ram V and Mike Perkins show this fight in a series of quick cuts, which makes it even more obvious that Heat Wave never stood a chance. This opening perfectly sets the tone for what the action-oriented portions of the issue will become: a horror show in which Task Force X is hunted by the Swamp Thing, one by one.
Of course, the Suicide Squad is simply standing in the way of Swamp Thing’s true mission: to save Kaziranga from the life-killing weapon that was dropped to keep him weakened. As he traverses through the marshland, he is shown flashes of the history the trees have carried within them: the time before humans, which gives way to the age of machines and the poisoning of the Green. He sees a place free from colonists and industry, just as he sees his own past playing out before him in a series of emotional flashbacks. He begins to understand how his own actions not only threatened the sanctity of Kaziranga, but also inevitably drove a wedge between him and his family.
The use of Night Nurse as the character who helps Levi peel back the layers of trauma and rediscover his own origin story is an inspired choice. The storytelling here is nothing short of brilliant; through these parallel histories, Levi continues to learn how everything is connected, just as the readers get a few more glimpses at the road that led him to his current state. It also drives home many of the themes that have been present throughout the series, such as colonialism, self-loathing, and the duty one feels toward their family.
And of course, Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer’s work throughout the issue is also nothing short of brilliant. There’s a grittiness to the Task Force X sequences that gives the affair a very grounded feel, even as we’re following characters like Chemo and a horribly mutated Parasite. The sickly, otherworldly greens of Night Nurse’s “surgical equipment” contrasts beautifully with the rotting, weakened marshland around her. Meanwhile, Levi’s flashbacks (both to his own life and the ancient history of Kaziranga) are given more sepia tones that help to separate these portions of the story. It all makes for a compelling and easy-to-follow dual narrative.
The final pages of the book bring us a Swamp Thing with an entirely new sense of resolve. It also sets the stage for one hell of a showdown, which I cannot wait to see play out in the next issue. This volume of The Swamp Thing is clearly ramping up for its finale, and will likely go down as one of the great runs on the character. The journey we’ve been taken on to understanding Levi’s inner turmoil has been an emotional and harrowing tale — and there’s still so much more to learn.
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