Werewolves And Wolf-Hunters At War- Reviewing ‘Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp’ #1
by Brendan M. Allen
Blake was worried that summer break with her weird aunt in Fever Swamp would be b-o-r-i-n-g, but it’s quickly become more intense than she ever could have imagined.
When twelve-year-old Blake is shipped away to stay with her weird aunt in Fever Swamp for the summer, she expects her weeks to be filled with video games, mosquito bites, and a whole lot of nothing. Instead, she finds herself in a spooky turf war between wolf-hunters and werewolves. With monsters on both sides, it’s up to Blake to use all of her gaming skills to escape alive in this all-ages scarefest.
Just like the publisher’s blurb says, Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1 shows a city girl ripped out of her comfort zone and plopped down in a small swamp town for the Summer. Fortunately, the aunt she’s staying with in that tiny town has sufficient Mbps to sustain her online gaming platform. Also, the kid at the very top of her gaming leaderboard happens to live in the tiny swamp town she’s found herself in. And… monsters.
It’s a pretty straightforward set-up, but Marieke Nijkamp does throw a couple really cool elements into the story. The lead character is disabled, and nearly every character in the story is female. I actually don’t think there’s a single male character in this whole first chapter. There may be the one, actually, but we don’t know yet really.
The artwork is solid. The kids generally look like kids. Yasmin Florez Montanez nails the pre-teen eye rolls, and the disinterested, slumped shoulder gait. Backgrounds and sets are reasonably detailed without being overworked or distracting and the colors pop. Rebecca Nalty’s palette may be just a touch too bright for the night time swamp scene, but the overall effect is pleasant and works with the story.
I don’t care who you are. You’ve read at least one Goosebumps book. I went and grabbed a couple off my son’s shelf to read before cracking Secrets of the Swamp open, just to remind myself. It’s been twenty-eight years since the last time I actually read one. Old. I know.
Nijkamp and co. are able to capture the general feel and cadence of the children’s novels. It’s a little formulaic, and they broke the cardinal rule in horror by showing the monster, but it’s right on par with the rest of the franchise.
Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1, IDW Publishing, 16 September 2020. Written by Marieke Nijkamp, art by Yasmin Florez Montanez, color by Rebecca Nalty, letters by Danny Djeljosevic.