Forced into a final confrontation with the Suicide Squad, the Swamp Thing’s origins finally come into focus — and a terrible new threat makes itself known.
In an oddly pleasing development, Swamp Thing makes short work of Chemo, turning this final battle with Task Force X into more of a personal mission for Peacemaker. Things have seriously gone south for his team, but he’s not risking any more casualties. The scene between Peacemaker and Night Nurse that opens the issue sells the seriousness of the situation, going a long way toward showing the reader how Swamp Thing appears to other characters: an unknowable and terrifying threat.
In the real monstrous throwdown of the issue, we finally get to see what became of Parasite, and it’s haunting. Driven nearly mad by the power and scope of the Green, the Parasite becomes a horrifying parody of itself, bursting with tendrils and jagged edges. It makes for one hell of an image (and Mike Spencer clearly had fun with this design), but it also lends itself beautifully to the through-line of the last few issues: Ram V’s continued exploration of Levi’s memories and trauma.
Connected by the Green, the two characters share their histories with one another. This not only leads to a few striking recreations of classic Parasite moments throughout the years (including his origin story and his rivalry with Superman), but it also forces Levi to confront the final days that led to his own transformation. He must also face a monster that is partially of his own making.
To say anything more would be to spoil one hell of a reveal in this issue. Suffice it to say that Levi’s battle had just become much more personal. I do wish the reveal here was given a bit more room to breathe, but the revelations of this character’s origins – as well as how they tie directly into those of Levi/Swamp Thing — are incredibly compelling.
This issue continues the series’ exploration of Swamp Thing as a manifestation of trauma. Every avatar before Levi has been born out of some terrible circumstance, but this series makes the salient point that not all tragedies are physical, and not all trauma is visible. Both the ghosts of the past and the power of the Green have Levi in their grip, but it is ultimately up to him how he harnesses them, and whether or not he allows himself to become the monster appears to be. This new take on the Swamp Thing legacy continues to surprise with how it interprets the canon and builds upon what came before in new and poetic ways.
Of course, the reader is also treated to some insane body horror before then. The battle in the swamp gets seriously ugly, allowing Mike Spencer and Mike Spicer ample opportunities to play with some goopy and disturbing imagery. Meanwhile, Aditya Bidikar’s lettering lends itself beautifully to the changes in perspective/timeline, occasionally fading from the jagged narration of the Swamp Thing to the less disjointed and human thoughts of Levi Kamei.
This issue also finds ways of illustrating Levi’s journey towards becoming much more than the monster he appears to be. His resolution to the fight with Peacemaker is entirely unexpected, but it shows that there’s still plenty of humanity to this iteration of the Swamp Thing.
In a profoundly poetic issue that explores the heart of its lead character like never before, The Swamp Thing deftly closes one arc and tears right into the next.
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