Review: The Swamp Thing #3
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Color: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Levi enters the Green and Jennifer follows and gets lost. Levi finally receives some direction from Ivy and Poison Ivy? as well as an erstwhile Alec Holland.
Ram V isn’t in a hurry to get to the end of this Swamp Thing story. He’s taking his time introducing us to the newest avatar of the Green and he’s doing it through a strong emphasis on character. Additionally, he gives the reader three recognizable characters which both tease as well as set the stage for what’s to come. V leans into the concepts that have been part of the Swamp Thing mythos for years, but we get to experience them through Levi and Jennifer’s new eyes.
The emphasis on character is strong again and that means that there’s no rush to get to the action. The reader is content to absorb character development. One thing that strikes me with this version of Swamp Thing is that Levi is not alone. In Alec Holland’s story he loses his wife Linda and he’s alone for much of his initial journey of discovery. Levi has Jennifer who follows him in to the green and seems to be poised to be a helper. I can’t help wondering if this Swamp Thing will rely on the knowledge of both Levi and Jennifer to be effective. In those early Swamp Thing tales Alec Holland was always missing his wife, Linda and Levi appears to be in a position to have someone with him.
In The Swamp Thing #3, we get some familiar characters that not only give Levi a bit of direction, but also help the reader understand Levi and Jennifer’s place in the greater DC Universe. Last issue the Sunderland Corporation was referenced and in this issue we not only get Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man but also what appear to be two versions of Poison Ivy (one is clearly just Ivy- no poison) and previous avatar of the Green, Alec Holland. V is slowly letting the reader see how Levi’s Swamp Thing will fit in the DCU as well as how he will relate to the other characters with a connection to the Green. This comes at just the right time as the first two issues of the series have almost exclusively avoided how Levi will fit in.
What appear to be two iterations of Poison Ivy are quite interesting. One of them identifies herself as just “Ivy,” taking care to point out that there is no “poison.” However, she does take Levi to another character who does seem to be the Poison Ivy we know. It’s unclear if this is her or not, but it’s an exciting mystery that will hopefully be unraveled. What role this un-Poison Ivy will play remains to be seen, but one has to wonder if she is a construct like the plant creatures from Future State: Swamp Thing or a truly independent creature. Additionally, one can’t also help but question if she will be a rival for Jennifer’s affections and perhaps provide an analogous conflict between humanity and the plant world. As first impressions go, she is off to a great start!
It will probably become tiresome to hear the continued lauds for the art team of Mikes Perkins and Spicer, but that what you’re going to get. They are producing a beautiful book each month. It’s clear that with the detail and thoughtful color choices they are both putting for great effort to match the quality of the writing. On the second splash page there is a panel detailing Jennifer’s face and a truly recognizable expression and facial contortion. Following page shows a lush sky that is the perfect example of one of Spicer’s coloring technique.
I’d like to say it’s a negative that we don’t get any Pale Wanderer in this issue, but that would be untrue. V balances the pace of the storytelling with the addition of new characters and we don’t even notice that the Wanderer is absent. The Swamp Thing #3 is strong enough that the Wandered isn’t really missed.
There are some comic book runs that are nearly perfect. It may seem premature to say that this one of them, but The Swamp Thing #3 indicates the opposite. V, Perkins, Spicer and Aditya seem intent on giving it their best effort to make it one of those all-time “perfect” runs. At the very least, it’s one of the best comics being published. It’s time to get on board at the beginning if you haven’t already.