Review: The Swamp Thing #9
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colors: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Prescott reveals his plan for Levi Kamei, while Levi’s brother, Jacob arrives to disrupt everything!
If you’ve read any of my reviews of The Swamp Thing, this review will seem like a broken record. So, I’m going to try and limit the superlatives we know are applicable to this series and talk about a couple specific things. The first is going to be Mike Perkins’ splash page and the second will be the intensity in Ram V’s story. Along the way something else will undoubtedly pop out.
Back in the late’60’s Jim Sterkanko drew a few comics for Marvel. Not a great many pages of output for a career, but they had a great impact on the medium. Neal Adams and Jim Steranko are probably the two most important comic book artists of that era. When you look at Mike Perkins’ splash page for The Swamp Thing #9, it immediately evokes Steranko’s work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. We’ve been used to seeing the natural world of The Green in the series that seeing an interior is a bit startling. Specifically, it is some sort of observation room one might imagine is present in some sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Of course, there’s no Nick Fury or Contessa Valentina Allegra de La Fontaine.
Jennifer Reese has been kidnapped by Peterson and it’s his observation room with metal railed balcony, computer screens and the remains of a Swamp Thing body the two are viewing. It’s the point-of-view and the details in the room that give shot that Steranko feel. I’m not mentioned this as a swipe, but rather as an example of how Perkins achieves the same level of excellence in this scene that Steranko did in his day.
Colorist Mike Spicer does his part in this scene as well. He not only has to change his color choices to reflect the sterile industrial interiors, but at the same time makes exciting choices that recall some of the psychedelic/ surrealistic look of some of those Steranko books. Even the placement of the title of the story as part of the platform is something Steranko would’ve gotten from Will Eisner.
As this issue unfolds, we get a slow build up of tension. It begins with Jennifer getting the intellectual approach from Peterson, and then a blast of anger from Levi when he realizes that she’s been taken. It all culminates when Levi’s brother Jacob beats Levi to Peterson’s location and starts destroying the place.
The plot has prepared the reader for the idea that Peterson is lying in wait to surprise Levi, but Peterson’s people are not prepared for Jacob’s assault. This breaks the whole issue open. We’ve been led to a certain belief that makes sense, and then surprised. It works so well because we don’t get to see Jacob really until he IS the surprise at Peterson’s ambush party. Jacob makes a good point that Levi would have approached the whole thing differently, but he also seems to underestimate Levi’s passion in the matter as it concerns his feelings for Jennifer. Ram V uses all these elements to build things up just right to not only surprise the reader, but also set the table for something even more significant is still to come.
Since it’s been announced that there will be a “second season” of The Swamp Thing, I can’t use my standard negative. One can only imagine the Pale Wanderer will be explored more in “season two” as he’s essentially disappeared from this series.
The Swamp Thing #9 feels like an issue that is deigned to remind that reader that this series is something special. It has that same feeling of innovation that Steranko’s work did. Perhaps it’s not as earthshattering and new as Steranko’s stuff, but there’s no doubt that this is a high point in comic book storytelling. Swamp Thing has always seemed to attract the best creators, so it’s no surprise that this series evokes great stories of the past.