Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Swamp Thing #5 Review


Story Ideas of Story

Written By: Ram V
Art By: John McCrea
Colors By: Mike Spicer
Letters By: Aditya Bidikar
Cover Art By: Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 6, 2021

Swamp Thing #5 temporarily ignores the events of the preceding four issues to tell a story about fascism and the unending war against ideas. When Levi Kamei is summoned to London to disarm an unexploded WWII bomb, with the help of John Constantine and Sierra Kirre, he learns the rise of fascism is sourced from old ideas that infect those who hear them. In the end, the anonymous narrator asks the most important question of all -- "What if Human ideas have begun to pollute the consciousness of this world?"

Was It Good?

"Good" is relative, but in the context of the series so far, this is by far the weakest entry.

One of the criticisms of the series to date is the lack of development for the main character, Levi Kamei. After four issues, we know almost nothing about him or are given a reason to care. That lack not only doesn't improve in this issue, but it goes in the opposite direction as Swamp Thing now has full awareness of Alec Holland's consciousness (the former Swamp Thing) and interacts with Constantine as if they're old friends. 

At some point, Ram V needs to actually develop the main character or concede the introduction of a new host for the Avatar of the Green was nothing more than an inconsequential body swap for Alec Holland.

This issue also marks John McCrea's taking over of art duties. McCrea's style is sketchier and rougher than his predecessor, but McCrea captures an excellent amount of moodiness with deep dark shadows for dramatic effect. That said, it's not as polished and the human anatomy proportions are slightly odd, but it's a nice change overall.

As for the story itself, it's a bit nonsensical and tiresome. The "rise of fascism" theme has been done to death so much that it's become a broken record in comics lately. When you couple the overused theme with the nonsense of its execution ("an unexploded WWII bomb is buried deep beneath London, therefore anyone in the vicinity with a weak mind becomes radicalized towards fascism by being exposed to the 'radiation' of the bad ideas that created it"), you start tipping into woo-woo nonsense territory.

There's nothing wrong with exploring mystical or metaphysical ideas surrounding the Third Reich. In fact, there are multiple, successful entertainment properties centered around that very idea (e.g. Wolfenstein, Hellboy), but there's an urgent story going on here with a Contagion threatening The Green that suddenly takes a back seat for Swamp Thing to play bomb removal squad(?!?).

Bits and Pieces:

After five issues, we know nothing about the main character, this issue takes a break from the trajectory and urgency of the main arc for a seemingly trivial errand, and the execution of "the how" and "the why" makes little sense.


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