REVIEW: ‘The Swamp Thing,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Swamp Thing #2 - But Why Tho?

The Swamp Thing #2 is published by DC Comics. Written by Ram V with art by Mike Perkins. The colors are by Mike Spicer, and Aditya Bidikar is the letterer. 

Dr. Levi Kamei has been having nightmares. When he’s awake, he’s a talented scientist, moving from India to New York. But at night, he’s been having visions of a green monster made of leaves and plants. On the other side of the country in Arizona, a monster that goes by the name of the Pale Wanderer is hunting those that venture into the desert. The ghoul is accosted by Swamp Thing. But his floral enemy is weak, dissipating before they can even fight. Levi bursts out of a tree in Central Park, realized as the new avatar of the Green.

Within this issue, Levi has more episodes transforming into Swamp Thing. He is unable to control it and barely conscious of it happening. Each time he does transition, he is taken back to the desert but is not strong enough the fight the murderous Pale Wanderer. As the horror story continues, he is taken to Arizona again, but this time may be the last.

The pacing and structure of the plot are superb. V maintains the slow momentum that the first issue started. Whilst slow, the reader is transfixed by how the comic continues the mystery. These issues don’t play out like traditional superhero comics. Instead, the horror tone dominates the story and the structure. The Swamp Thing #2 is constantly changing between the city and the desert as if the character doesn’t really know where it is. The ending isn’t surprising, but it makes these opening issues feel complete while also setting up the future of the series.

The characters continue to be written well. Levi is clearly hiding something related to his past in the Kaziranga, which haunts him when he is allowed some time on his own. The hints show this to be intensely emotional and violent, creating powerful mysteries as to the details. His connection to his home is also what appears to tether him to Swamp Thing and the Green. Something that is revealing about him is that he is open about his terrifying experiences, talking to them with his friend Jennifer. This is very different from other alter egos within comics, who prefer secrecy. Whilst the readers are beginning to see his personality, it would be great if there were more insight into his strengths and weaknesses as a character. 

It should also be celebrated that the creative team chose an Indian man as the main character within this series. Diversity will always be crucial within comics and entertainment, and this is a demographic that is significantly underrepresented in western comics.

Neither the protagonist nor antagonist are these powerful, high octane figures. The way they fight and move is akin to the slower energy of the comic. Both feel like avatars or embodiments of something much greater than themselves, each of them these ancient, mysterious beings. Swamp Thing is the savior of the Green but tries to protect those his enemy consumes. But the Pale Wanderer is connected to the desert, having been changed by it after so many years of solitude. Both are scary and creepy in their own right, and this was a perfect match-up to start this new series. There is a wonderful exploration of spirituality and legends. And when it does become a fight, the writer and artist do not disappoint in that either.

One of the other characters that thankfully returns is the sheriff, who was a focal point of the premiere issue. He is deeply troubled by what he saw, attacked by the Pale Wanderer. This experience with such a monstrosity has affected his view of his own mortality, resulting in a heavy depression. 

Something that really stands out in The Swamp Thing #2 is the script. Not just the spoken dialogue by V’s captions are exquisite. In other superhero comics, it is common to get short sentences resembling thoughts. They are snappy and full of personality. But within this comic are long sentences brimming with stunning vocabulary. They resemble someone regaling folklore as opposed to a brawl. Levi/Swamp Thing’s voice is still clear, but these boxes are incredibly poetic. Everything from the way the Pale Wanderer is described to the transformation process is scarier with these captions.

The art is perfectly suited for this comic, matching the creepiness of the story. Perkins fantastically captures the showdown between the monsters. Their movements are so well defined, each panel mixing horror with action. Each being is unsettling in its own right. Swamp Thing is a beloved hero, but the way he elongates and forms out of long strands and roots is skin-crawling. Particularly in his weaker, unstable state. 

The Pale Wanderer is a zombie but with unique and horrifying twists. Much of him is human apart from his face. From some angles, his mouth looks like it’s missing, just black emptiness. But in the light, there is this distended jaw with terrifying teeth. Small, thin lines on his face show just how withered his skin has turned. There is confidence to him now, after several victories and feasts. When he walks, his arms are spread invitingly, willing those against him to attack. Every rock, every building, every line in this world is meant to confuse or disturb. But the style on the last page changes to be one of beauty.

The colors are stunning. Each location has a different color and atmosphere, from the rich purple of the desert to the intense orange in the city. One of the themes that appear to be prevalent within this comic is that each place has its own identity. Spicer truly shows this through the Even inside the Arizonan bar, purple is prevalent. There is sensational detail put into the textures on the wooden bartop and the glasses. Something that also breaks the constant colors, becoming the most important thing on the page, is the Green. There is a true vibrancy to Swamp Thing and his powers, as if reborn.

The letters are fantastic. There is a diversity in the word balloons. Swamp Thing’s signature orange is etched into the panels, not out of place. The balloons that accompany his enemy seem to melt, really adding context to his voice. And for the beautiful, eloquent caption boxes, Bidikar uses a simple and easy-to-read font that allows the words to speak for themselves.

The Swamp Thing #2 is a beautiful, atmospheric horror comic that builds on the already strong first issue. The writing of the story and dialogue feels so different from anything else that’s available that it makes this series stand out on its own. The small cast allows each character, whether they be vulnerable humans or vicious predators of legend, to capture the attention. The art and colors are gorgeous, stylized whilst also helping to tell the story by themselves. 

The Swamp Thing #2 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

 

The Swamp Thing #2
5

TL;DR

The Swamp Thing #2 is a beautiful, atmospheric horror comic that builds on the already strong first issue. The writing of the story and dialogue feels so different from anything else that’s available that it makes this series stand out on its own. The small cast allows each character, whether they be vulnerable humans or vicious predators of legend, to capture the attention. The art and colors are gorgeous, stylized whilst also helping to tell the story by themselves.