Review: ‘The Swamp Thing’ #5 Is A Great Self-Contained Evocative Issue
by Olly MacNamee
The Swamp Thing is summoned to London i the latest issue of Ram V’s run, and he’s not the only supernatural DC character to turn up to a house haunted by a WWII bomb. Guest artist John McCrea is the prefect fit with a style that suits Swampy exceptionally well.
I don’t think any writer taking on Swamp Thing can resist the urge of inviting John Constantine to the party eventually. And so Ram V takes his turn. Although, to be fair, he has been chronicling this loveable Liverpudlian for quite some time now over on Justice League Dark, but his inclusion here only raises questions for this reviewer. His team mate is already the Swamp Thing, so the big question hanging over this while series – like heavy, warm mist over the Amazonian rainforest – is still one of the central mysteries Ram V is playing with. Where does this new Champion of the Green fit into this all-new DCU? If indeed this is the DCU we are becoming defamiliarised with once again after the event of Dark Nights: Death Metal, Doomsday Clock and Future State?
But, let’s not get bogged down in fan theory for too long. Not when this one-off issue has so much to offer with in terms of story and art, with John McCrea amply filling in as guest artist on this issue. An artist who contrasts Mike Perkins’ own art in many ways, but one who is more than suited to take on DC’s muck monster. The cross-hatching and heavy textured shadows McCrea produces suggest, to me at least, each panel has been carefully carved out of woodblock and printed. The lines seemed etched into each panel and each page. A really appropriate style for such an organic character. McCrea certainly stamps his own discernible style on Swamp Thing.
And so we get a story set in London and a typical inner-city apartment building that – like many multi-person dwellings in the capital – has seen better days. But, unlike other such rent-traps, this one is haunted by an old World War II German bomb. A bomb that could well be the virtual embodiment of its Nazi creators’ fascistic ideas. A bomb that is an idea. Akin to Grant Morrisons’s own thoughts on this in the much celebrated Supergods. And, no doubt, something of an influnece in this issue too.
Mike Spicer adds a colour palette that drenches London in a magenta gloom that contrasts wonderfully against Swamp Thing’s luminous greenery, while Aditya Bidikar adds an eeriness of his own with narrative boxes that reflect the dreamlike state one of the building’s occupants exists within as he remembers a war he never knew.
The Swamp Thing #5 is a great done-in-one issue that focusses as much on Constantine as it does on Swamp Thing, with a great balance achieved, as well as moments of abstract scripting I’ve come to expect from Ram V. And out now from DC Comics.