Review: The Swamp Thing #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colors: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed by: Matthew Lloyd
Meet the new avatars of the Green and the Rot respectively- Levi Kamei and the Pale Rider. It’s the beginning of a new era for the Swamp Thing!
Ram V and Mike Perkins are not new to the Swamp Thing. They just finished up two-issues of Future State: Swamp Thing last month and before that they worked on Legend of the Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular. However, Levi Kamei is new and this is his first appearance in The Swamp Thing #1. It’s not always easy to introduce a new version of a familiar and beloved character. In this issue, V starts us off with a mystery to get the reader going and then introduces Levi Kamei.
The opening scene is a great introduction into the new world of this Swamp Thing, but we really get an introduction to the Pale Rider first. He appears to be the latest avatar of the Rot. There’s a body found on the side of the road and the police officers tell the attending coroner of the legend of the Pale Rider. There’s no mention of the Rot, but instead a gruesome and horrifying story that leads the reader to believe that this character will most likely turn out to be avatar of the Rot. The details the coroner describes in the assessment of the corpse add the right amount of minutiae to the scene that makes it feel real. It also adds just enough about the character and makes him more than a bystander.
The introduction of Levi Kamei is all character. There’s no big action sequence, it’s just well thought out scenes that allow the reader to learn something about Levi and his relationships. The horror he’s hiding is shown briefly a few times, but V keeps us all in suspense for a greater reveal presumably next issue. For readers familiar with the Swamp Thing concept, Levi’s trauma is not as confusing as it is to Levi. However, the readers takes the journey with Levi, allowing both the opportunity to discover what’s going on together. It makes the reader empathize and relate to Levi in a really effective manner. V is putting character first, drawing the reader in. The Swamp Thing #1 doesn’t rely on any pre-knowledge of the concept. For those who do know, this is a different take on the Alec Holland version.
Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer do a great job with the art. Together they set the tone for each scene with just the right amount of detail and staging. Spicer is particularly careful to make sure his palette is just right for each scene, whether it be the hot desert highway, or the horrors in Levi’s mind. The green in the clouds that surround Levi’s airplane are a great effect that foreshadows what the future holds in store for Levi. Perkins tells a lot of story with his facial expressions and body poses as well. Take the time to let it all sink in when reading!
One could imagine being disappointed that Alec Holland is not in The Swamp Thing #1, but the focus on character is so strong that it doesn’t really matter. It’s a great issue, and it’s obvious at some point the series will deal with Levi’s place in The Green and address Alec Holland’s fate. It’s understandable for fans of Alec’s Swamp Thing, but in the greater concept, Alec has not been the only Swamp Thing. He wasn’t even the first Swamp Thing to appear in a DC Comic. That was Alex Olsen!
Like their other work on Swamp Thing, Ram V and Mike Perkins do such a great job of storytelling it doesn’t matter if this issue is the story you wanted. The focus on character and making the reader relate to Levi make it easy for the reader to go with it and enjoy this new take on a favorite. It doesn’t always work, but the execution in this first issue of The Swamp Thing promise that this will be a great series!