Ram V and Mike Perkins deliver another faultless issue. This issue blooms with an intelligent and entertaining script that is wonderfully captured on the page by Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer. We walk carefully through the Green in an almost dream-like state. But, where there are dreams, there is always the fear of nightmares too.
Jennifer Reece finds herself within the Green and with the Floronic Man as her guide, while Levi Kamei – the newest Swamp Thing to emerge – is witness to a contagion infected the Green alongside his own spirit guide, Alec Holland. And with both our main players immersed within the rich, vivid dense foliage of this ethereal place, it allows writer Ram V the time to explore and embellish on one of the DCU’s more fascinating outposts.
The Green has long been established as a sentient, organic other-realm that, like a green-thumbed gardener, good writers can add to. Sowing seed and germinating new ideas that can only enrich this mythological realm for others to revisit and further furrow. And like many a plant, some ideas will take root while other whither on the vine. I suspect, Ram V’s prosaic and well-considered revisions will certainly be of the former. As will Mike Perkins own artistic contribution to the ongoing saga of the Swamp Thing. For absolute refutable evidence that this as true, you need look no further than the splash page that revisits the previous Swamp Thing’s history as ripples through time. No better example is there of writer and artist working in simpatico as Ram V explores the idea of collective memories, stories, myths and legends linked to the Green; transmutable, growing changing through history and with each new storyteller. In this page alone there is a wealth of influences, from Bernie Wrightson to Steve Bissette and more. Echoes through time, ripples in the time stream. Perkins use of light ink washes to delineate depth and bring out details is only enhanced by Mike Spicer’s startling colour art. Like a tropical rainforest after the rains, this book sparkles with vivid, lush colours. Like Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp before them on The Green Lantern, I truly believe this will be a classic in the making. There aren’t that many comics on the shelves that deal with such high concepts and metaphorical allusions so adeptly.
As an aside, I do hope DC Comics do more of this kind of thing with their legacy characters as it really works and allows each creative team the space to tell a very specific story within a limited period. Whether that is one season, two, or more.
Is it this contagion that first spurred on Levi’s transformation? And what of Alec Holland, Levi’s guide to the Green? All questions to be answered in later issues, but for now, the reader is encourage to luxuriate in the exposition, explanation and slower pace this comic delivers. Alec and Jason Woodrue are as much our guides through this mystical world as they are Jenny’s and Levi’s. It all feels very much like a new take on a long-forgotten genre of poetry best exemplified by Dante’s Divine Comedy or Chaucer’s The Parliament of Fowles. Which I am more than sure is the intention, just as it was when Alan Moore first took us to this place decades ago now. And like those Medieval masters, this place is over brimming with symbolism and hidden meaning.
The Swamp Thing #4 is a thing of beauty, both artistically and narratively. It’s a character that certainly seems to be bringing out the best in all involved and another issue I cannot help but give top marks to. And out now from DC Comics.