DC Comics’ The swamp thing has always been something of a horror series. Mike Perkins’ art almost seems to intervene on the page at times, twisting and distorting into scary images. And the author Ram V’s manuscripts are often full of a silent fear. But this series is as much a lyrical work of poetry as it is horror. With Sumpting # 8, author Ram V, artist Mike Perkins, colorist Mike Spicer and letters Aditya Bidikar explore through lyrical dialogue and breathtaking action what it means to be a monster.



The rhythmic sense of V’s authorship in this chapter is impossible to miss. V is wordy and complex in its language. “The forest is flooded … with sewage … of war,” he writes. At times, it sounds almost more like a hymn than a cartoon. But that’s the point. V writes about things that are bigger than these comic book pages can express. Swamp Thing is a walking force of nature. He can not be caught on the side. Yet V’s commitment to this writing style does not prevent him from also happily letting history take part in comic book tropes. It’s enemy after enemy that Swamp Thing faces in this issue. He only stops one enemy to get another bigger, more dangerous rival revealed. V sees the best of both worlds, his artistic writing style and the powerful excitement of comic book battles and says “Yes thank you” to it all.


Perkins art similarly jumps back and forth between these two styles. We get the really emotional moments where Swamp Thing questions his purpose. His face is so expressive that you can see Levi’s humanity beneath the green exterior. But then Perkins shows that he is just as ingenious for big monster fights. One scene shows Swamp Thing and Parasite duking it out. Behind them, there are a bunch of panels of smaller moments going on in the fight. Against this background, we see Swamp Things’ eyes widen in fear before they again pinch with determination. Not only does Perkins manage to make his art both intimate and full of flashy action, but he manages to do both things in a single image. It’s a great balance of styles that at times feels like it should be impossible to achieve. But definitely, Perkins does!



As is the case with many of the other chapters in this series, this issue has a beautiful interplay of green, orange and purple. These seem to be representative of the main themes of this cartoon. Swamp Thing is green, of course. But it is the poison that kills the forest as well. Spicer shows us Swamp Things’ sense of responsibility. Not only does he feel he should protect the trees, but he feels involved in their death. And when we see Levi’s past, it appears in shades of orange. As a new character is introduced, they are surrounded by orange. Spicer gives us this visual signal that this character has been influencing Levi for longer than we could have known. Spicer creates a beautiful tapestry of colors, all mature with a deeper meaning.


This issue feels like a license for Bidikar to go wild. Almost every page is filled with really expressive letters. Even when they’re just writing captions, Bidikar shows the disappearance of Swamp Things’ narrative to Levi’s. But it is on the last pages that Bidikar withdraws. The sound effects of a character being distorted in pain, Swamp Things crying with grief as he realizes a horrible truth, and the Peacemaker’s grunt as he fights are all wildly expressive. We see a big “OOF!” of Peacemaker being thrown against a tree and a minor “nngh!” as the pain of the moment sinks in. Bidikar shows us every stroke of every match by constantly switching up how things are letters.

The swamp thing is an incredible series. It is as much a meditation on life and humanity as it is an action cartoon full of exciting fight sequences. This creative team has mastered small, intimate moments and big, bombastic ones. Collect Sumpting # 8, out of DC Comics on October 5 in a comic book store near you!

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