The villainous Harper Pilgrim megalomaniacal monologuing in ‘The Swamp Thing’ #9 only helps serve to build tension as Levi Kamei seeks out the kidnapped Jennifer Reece in New York. An issue that digs up a good deal of themes from previous instalments and connects the deadly dots.
As we race to the finishing line of the first season of The Swamp Thing themes and echoes from across the series start converging as the big bad, Preston Industries’ Harper Pilgrim languidly reveals his cunning plan to the kidnapped Jennifer Reece. This may be one of the oldest comic book tropes in existence but in the hands of Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer and Aditya Bidikar it’s masterfully utilised to create a tense and taut narrative. And a good bit of misdirection too.
Across the series Ram V has played with the notion of memories deep rooted to the environment and not just memories, but valuable data. And in the hands of a ruthless industrialist like Pilgrim, a gold-mine ripe for exploitation. In having acquired a previous husk once used by a past champion of the Green, Pilgrim has made a fortune and now wants even more.
And in pushing Levi Kamei he has also allowed our hero to evolve and embrace his new reality. By this point in the carefully crafted saga, Kamei has come to understand himself, and where he’s come from and now leans into his new found role in order to seek out Pilgrim. But, there are other players on the stage who also want their pound of flesh. And therein lies the class of titans promised to us as part of the final issue’s showdown.
Perkins continues to thrive on this series as an artist who seems to be challenging himself in what can be achieved on the printed page. While other issue have paid homage to past masters, here their influence on Perkins art is minimal at best. I think he’s certainly made his mark on this much loved character with a style that balanced the real with the surreal beautifully. And with his strong sense of lights and darks he can still infuse even the more colourful pages with a sense of darkness and drama.
Spicer has cleared a colour scheme across the whole series that binds the whole project together cohesively with particular colour palettes connecting with specific characters and specific moods too. And, of course, Bidikar’s does something similar with his lettering and word balloon design too.
In transforming into a monster, Levi has ironically become far more human and on his journey of self-discover that has been both physical and meta-physical in breadth. And in charting this journey of the body, mind and soul, Ram V has weaved a modern masterpiece in his writing. He has proven he can write in a number of various styles; prosaically, poetically and give a menacing voice to villainy. Pilgrim makes Lex Luthor seem like some kind of cartoon villain in comparison. All-in-all a difficult act to pull off when considering the shoulders of giant he is standing on to achieve this. And, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate artist to craft this story either. An artist who brings a certain solidity to this book that grounds in reality so to better infuse it with the unbelievable along the way. A savage beauty that’s is no doubt all but destined for a second season on the strength of this first series.
The Swamp Thing #9 is out now from DC Comics