Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Swamp Thing #13 Review

You Want The Answers?  You Can't Handle The Answers!

Written by: Ram V
Art by: Mike Perkins
Colors by: Mike Spicer
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover art by: Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer (cover A)
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: May 24, 2022

The Swamp Thing #13 reveals the idea created by abandoned factories, follows Trinity as the latest idea to walk the cold Earth, finally... FINALLY... shows how/why Levi Kamei was selected by the Green to be the next Swamp Thing and introduces the enormous threat that has the Parliament of Trees so concerned.  It's not what you think.

Was It Good?

Do you know where Ram V is headed with this story?  Does anyone know where Ram V is headed with this story?  Does Ram V know where Ram V is headed with this story?  The answer to that last question might be a "Yes," but when you see what comes out of left field on the last page, you might think Ram V only decided where this story was headed 15 minutes ago.  Oy!

When last we left the Avatar of the Green, Swamp Thing was learning that modern ideas were springing to life with their own Avatars for some unknown reason.  Urban Decay, Nuclear Power, Machinations, and so forth all got their chance to prove that they're the new (American) Gods on the block.  Ram V is shooting for high concepts in areas where the same concepts have already been tackled.  The big questions which have been left to linger still remain.  Why was Levi Kamei selected to be the new Swamp Thing?  Why are ideas sprouting (*heh*) up willy-nilly?  Why are new plot points introduced without playing them out to some conclusion?

Well, now we get some answers, sports fans.  Those answers, some at least, come out of nowhere.  If they play out in the direction they appear to be headed, those answers indicate a lot of decompressed storytelling translates to a lot of pointless filler.  Let's get into it.

[Spoilers Ahead]

What's the big answer to the question plaguing this series since issue #1, namely why the Green selected Levi Kamei to be Swamp Thing?  In short, one of the members of the Parliament of Trees liked his dreamer personality when he was a little boy, so it thought his imagination could save them in the future.  That's it.  There's no cultural twist or dark magic ritual.  No science experiment gone wrong.  No twisting of fate.

Next, what's going on with the new ideas springing up?  Abandoned factories are springing to life and producing random things.  Without raw materials, the factories leech off the city grid for utilities and consume trash and homeless people to construct boxes and random geometric shapes.  When King of Cities moves to shut one factory down, he and Swamp Thing battle against a giant machine monster.  King of Cities holds it at bay with awkward-looking karate kicks, but Swamp Thing puts the beast down with Green power.  So why are factories coming to life, and how can they create machine monsters?  It remains unknown.

Later, Swamp Thing seeks out the Parliament of Trees to warn them about the abandoned factories and seek information.  It's there that Levi receives insight into his selection as the Swamp Thing.  He also learns that somehow Jacob returned (forgive the Star Wars reference, but it fits), and for the time being, Jacob appears to be in good graces with the Parliament because they believe they need a warrior for a coming war.

Here's the kicker.  Here's what 13 issues at $3.99 per issue of over-bloated pontificating narration, high concept ideas that never lead anywhere, and "idea bombs" have shown us.  Levi returns to his apartment, where he receives a visit that comes out of nowhere... literally.  Hal Jordan, aka Green Lantern, swoops in and asks for Levi's help to stop a coming war by an invasion of plant aliens headed for Earth.  Plant aliens that don't seem responsive to any usual means of communication.  Let that sink in.  Over a year of playing coy with Levi's origin as Swamp Thing, plot development after plot development that seemingly went nowhere, almost no character development of the main character, vague comments about "corruption" and "something big is coming" without any connection to the story at hand, new "ideas" appearing without rhyme or reason, and it all leads to this.  Hal Jordan needs a translator who speaks "Plant."

Bits and Pieces:

The Swamp Thing #13 finally pulls all the pieces from the last 12 issues together to start heading in a definitive direction.  Still, the big surprise comes out of nowhere to introduce a silly revelation that, frankly, makes the rest of the series seem pointless.  When future generations ask why decompressed storytelling is a bad thing, this series might be used as an example.


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