Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Swamp Thing #7 Review

One More Piece Of The Puzzle...

Written By: Ram V
Art By: Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer, Aditya Bidikar
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 7, 2021

In Swamp Thing #7, the Suicide Squad is down one pyromaniac in its hunt to capture Swamp Thing... dead or alive. When NIghtmare Nurse takes a crack at the big green guy, we get a look into Levi Kamei's mind to see how his relationship with his brother and father took a nasty turn.

Was It Good?

It's a mixed bag. Some parts are better, such as a much-overdue flashback to how Levi's family conflict started. Other parts are overdone, unnecessary, or just plain make little sense.

When last we left Swamp Thing, he was sneaking up on Heatwave after a healthy dose of flamethrowing forced him into a nearby pond to recuperate. We pick up now with the SS finding Heatwave's near-dead body and Peacemaker calling Waller for help because this mission ain't going as planned.

I was partly down on the last issue because the makeup of the SS seemed rather pointless when half the team is either irresponsible or completely unresponsive (in the case of Chemo and Parasite). Why send in a team to get a very specific job done when half the team can't obey a simple order? However, one team member is showing her worth here via Nightmare Nurse.

Asa aka Nightmare Nurse manages to get the drop on Swamp Thing and begins probing his mind to find the painful memories that tether him to the Green. I like that a SS team member is using her abilities to get the job done, and you can see why Waller selected her for the job. as Asa digs, we take a ride on the wayback machine to find out what happened to Levi in Kaziranga (7 issues and $28 dollars later than it should have happened).

Cutting through the fluff, it's a land deal. Levi's company wants the land, Levi's family and the people of Kaziranga are convinced that selling out would lead to a complete decimation via strip mining and ecological destruction. Fine, I can get behind the root (*heh*) of this conflict, but there are two parts of this large flashback that don't make sense or ring false.

Levi doesn't understand his family and the local council's reluctance. I just explained it above, his father explained it in very plain language. What's not to get? Selling the land will mean ecological destruction. How does a very smart guy not understand? You could say he thinks economic progress is more important, but to be either so dismissive of the concern or claim to not understand the concern at all is bizarre.

The second is an old myth the father uses to get his son to understand the burden of responsibility. The myth involves two brothers. One of the brothers is struck by a disease and the other fails to find a cure. The healthy brother sends the purest, greatest warrior out to find the cure he couldn't. The warrior, as the story is written, never finds the cure but he brings a whole mountain back with him in the hope that a cure could be found. When Levi asks if he found the cure on the mountain, his father tells him it doesn't matter.

It plays out poorly because the myth (as the father tells it) doesn't apply to the situation or address the argument Levi makes.

Now, I don't know for sure what real myth Ram V is referencing here, but this sounds like the story of Hanuman, the monkey warrior, who carried a whole mountain back to his army because he didn't know what herb was the right one to cure the sick. In some ways, Hanuman is an allegory about doing the impossible to save what matters. Again, it fits VERY poorly to the story in this issue because it doesn't match the debate point Levi's father makes.
Levi's company escalates the land buy through government pressure and bribes. Levi's father is shot in civil protests, and Levi's family blames him for his part in the deal just as much as he blames himself.

Nightmare Nurse offers to take his painful memory so he can be "cured" and released from being the Swamp Thing. Levi says 'no'.  Nightmare Nurse sends in Chemo to dissolve Swamp Thing until there's nothing left. Wait, what? Wasn't the whole point of the SS mission to capture Swamp Thing or bring back usable samples? Doesn't dissolving Swamp Thing completely negate the whole purpose of the mission? Oy!

Bits and Pieces

Swamp Thing #7 is a little bit good and a little bit bad. After 7 issues (and $28) we finally get some insight into Levi's personality, only to discover he's a very smart idiot. After the weirdly misplaced myth his father uses to make a point, the apple must not fall far from the tree. The art is solid, the pacing is excellent, but to be this far into a 10-issue arc with such a lopsided story is a waste.


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