The climactic battle between Swamp Thing and Hedera has finally arrived in The Swamp Thing #10 from Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer, and Aditya Bidikar. As brother faces brother, it becomes all too clear that the true enemy is still lurking in the shadows.
The action sequence that takes up a good portion of the issue is certainly brutal, showcasing both elementals at the height of their powers. There are a few moments that almost hurt to look at, which are heightened by the familial connection between Levi and Jacob. And somehow, even with so much human life at stake, this confrontation ends up feeling quite intimate. This is, after all, a struggle between two brothers who have found themselves on opposite sides of a war.
Something that cannot be understated is how exceptional Mike Perkins is when it comes to depicting sheer joy. The flashbacks to Levi and Jacob’s childhoods continue here, showing the pair on a rope swing. In every sense, it is a look at a better and simpler time for them, and the happiness on their faces says it all. The two of them have come so far from these contented, sunset-bathed days, and Mike Spicer further hammers that idea home with the jump from gorgeous red and purple skies to a stark and wintery plain that threatens to swallow them whole.
Aditya Bidikar’s lettering is impeccable throughout this issue, showing an even clearer divide between the forcefulness of Hedera and the compassionate pleas of the Swamp Thing, but there’s also a lightness to the conversations between the two as boys. The emphasis of certain words indicates a playfulness in their banter — and when the same element is employed during the fight, it feels acidic and hateful. The shifts between these flashbacks and the present day make this fight all the more calamitous and compelling, and every member of the creative team is working at the height of their powers to bring the tragedy of it all into focus.
If this had truly been the end of The Swamp Thing, I think we might have lost something very special. It’s not totally clear where the series will go from here, but the introduction of a familiar face, not to mention the nods toward a few of the most integral Swamp Thing stories of all time, serve to remind us that the Saga of the Swamp Thing is a horrifying and cyclical thing.
Levi’s story is far from over, and I’m curious to see what he becomes next. After all, you can’t kill a vegetable by shooting it through the head… but can you change an idea by breaking its heart?
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