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The Swamp Thing #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

A new era of horror blossoms in The Swamp Thing #1, DC Comics brand new 10 part maxi-series from the creative team of writer Ram V and artist Mike Perkins. The Guardian of the Green has a new host, Levi Kamei, who cannot control his nightmarish metamorphosis into the Swamp Thing. Finding himself caught up in a terrifying mystery surrounding the ghastly murders committed by an ancient desert legend, Levi must revisit events from the past in his homeland of India, and confront a fearsome new villain if he is to ever understand the horrifying reality of what is happening to him…

Ram V is no stranger to Swamp Thing having written for Justice League Dark and Future State Swamp Thing for DC Comics. Now as part of DC Comics Infinite Frontier initiative in the aftermath of the Death Metal and Future State events, Ram V’s new Swamp Thing mini-series introduces us to Levi Kamei (DC’s first lead character heralding from India), an everyday guy with a deep rooted fear of flying, who now faces an inner-struggle to understand and control his dream fuelled transformations into Swamp Thing.

Exactly how Levi initially became Swamp Thing is opaquely mapped out by Ram V over a series of flashbacks to Levi’s trip to India to visit his dying father. Burning terror, violence and a dark bargain made by his brother all played some role in Levi’s origin as Swamp Thing. Previously, once a character had been transformed into Swamp Thing it was permanent, and there was no turning back. Ram V masterfully sows an uncanny twist into the narrative that seems to indicate that Levi is some kine of vessel or conduit for the Green, especially if Levi’s petrifying trans Atlantic flight back from India to the USA is anything to by, and its a change that respectfully builds on the enduring legacy of Swamp Thing whilst also branching out in a completely fresh direction for the character.

Swamp Thing #1: Becoming Part 1 broodingly establishes this new set-up as the action divides between a Sherif and his deputies investigation of a gruesome murder in the Sonoran Desert, the haunting legend of the Pale Wanderer, and Levi Kamei’s recollections about his trip to India after he returns to New York where he is welcomed home by his long-term friend-with-benefits – Jennifer Reece. It is only really at this issues mid-way point that this series’ premise becomes more clear as we begin to see the wider picture of Levi’s plight, one that’s steeped in the history of India, along with powerful real-world and environmental issues, raw emotion and dark creeping horror. 

Gloriously illustrated throughout by artist Mike Perkins, every page blooms with intricate detail, vivid horror, and unsettling atmosphere. The scene setting opening in the desert offers a curious mix of isolation and dread, where the forensic examination of a corpse and the lifecycle of a blowfly provides a stark contrast with the symbiosis of Levi’s metamorphic relationship with  both Swamp Thing and natures inexorable cycle of life and death. The grim story of the Pale Wanderer, a former Civil War soldier who abandoned his humanity after he wandered into the desert, and subsequent manifestation as some ghostly ghoul is also rendered with eerie clarity by Perkins. Levi Kamei’s journey is filled with compelling mystery and drama throughout, with Perkins art and colourist Mike Spicer’s exquisite use of rich tones and shadows bringing Levi’s mesmerising mind-trip down the green rabbit hole of Swamp Thing’s domain to life as dark fantasy melds with the frightening real-world  horror of his transformations.

Ram V is clearly going for a less esoteric approach here than some writers have previously taken with Swamp Thing, and on the whole this makes the series feel extremely accessible to all. Fans might be disappointed there’s no mention or acknowledgment of the current Swamp Thing, Alec Holland, or recent events in Justice League Dark, and the battle with the Upside-Down Man. However, Ram V does such a great job introducing Levi Kamei as a new kind of Swamp Thing with this issue that it all serves to further the mysterious tone of the story anyway. This issue is a little bit of a slow burn, but its rich with characterisation, and everything builds to a nerve jangling face-off between Swamp Thing and the Pale Wanderer.

Swamp Thing #1 sets Levi Kamei on a hauntingly macabre path, one  fraught with emotional turmoil and grim revelations. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this 10 part maxi-series, I’m a big horror and Swamp Thing fan, and I’m pleased to say that I was highly impressed with this issue. If Ram V’s Future State Swamp Thing wetted your appetite for more, then The Swamp Thing #1 is sure to satisfy your horror craving with its deep and enchanting take on the character, and a killer creative team firing on all cylinders.  

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colorist  Mike Spicer  / Letterer Aditya Bidikar

Cover Mike Perkins & Mike Spicer

Variant Cover Francesco Mattina 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook