Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Swamp Thing #16 Review



Written by: Ram V
Art by: Mike Spicer
Colors by: Mike Perkins
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover art by: Mike Spicer, Mike Perkins
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: August 23, 2022

The Swamp Thing #16 concludes the arc and Ram V's run on the title with a final confrontation between Swamp Thing, the Tournament of Gears, Trinity, and the Prescot/Pale Wanderer fusion.

Is It Good?

The Swamp Thing #16 resolves the entire storyline by talking a lot and resolving very little. When last we left the participants, Swamp Thing was locked in a no-win scenario but persuaded the Parliament of Gears to hear what Trinity had to say by getting the Parliament to concede it had nothing to lose by listening.

In effect, the salvation of Earth hinges on a speech by a newly-formed avatar born of nuclear bomb testing. What did she have to say? People don't make logical choices, but they can choose that makes them special. 

Idea #1: Sentience is a cool

The Parliament of gears doesn't exactly listen to Trinity but decides it needs more time to think about what it wants to do instead of loyally following Prescot's direction to consume the Earth. The Parliament's hesitation gives Swamp Thing enough slack to break free and attack Prescot, sending them both falling through a window to the ground below, where Swamp Thing conjures a tree to trap Prescot for the foreseeable future.

Later, Levi returns to his family's home, where he senses a new appreciation for the jungle/forest and readies himself for a time when the Swamp Thing is needed again. What follows is a lengthy soliloquy about the evils of unfettered industrialization and how it would be better to choose innovation over greedy industrialization.

Idea #2: Greed is bad

As a positive, the epilogue is the most amount of character development we've had for Levi Kamei since the start of the series because we now get a sense of what he finds important instead of reacting to things as they happen. It's not much, but it's something.

The major down point is the laundry list of unresolved plot points that were either not relevant to the ideas or lost out when Ram V's run was unceremoniously reduced from 20 issues to 16. Those plot points include:


  • How did Levi Kamei become the Swamp Thing? In recent issues, you see why he was selected (sort of), but you never see the infection/transformation/process happen?
  • What caused the corruption of the Green? Was it Levi's brother? Was it the newborn Parliament of Gears? Something else?
  • Why was Trinity born now when the nuclear tests that spawned her were completed decades ago?
  • What happened to Hal Jordan and everyone else sent to stop the alien spore invasion?
  • What happened to the alien spores?
  • Why would the Green call an alien invasion to wipe out humanity when the Parliament of Gears, created by humanity, was already planning to wipe out humanity? The persistent notion of this book is that ideas can't be killed, so wiping out humanity wouldn't kill the Parliament of Gears since it's the embodiment of an idea. Oh, Lordy.
  • What happened to Levi's brother?
  • And so much more... 

Here's the bottom line of this run. This isn't a story. This is a loose collection of ideas that never fully form or come together in a cohesive narrative. If you're entranced by super art from Perkins and Spicer (it really is super), and bloated, flowery language that tries to fool you into thinking complex language and concepts are a valid substitute for basic storytelling, you're going to love this conclusion.

For everyone else, talk to your LCS about getting your money and the last 18 months of your life back.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

The Swamp Thing #16 concludes the run with plenty of speeches, ideas, and pontification but halfhearted attempts at resolution. This issue, like the run as a whole, simply collects ideas to tell you sentience is good and greed is bad with nary a thought to justifying the myriad of plot threads that never get addressed. If you love the art, this finale may be worth the cover price. But if you want a story that ends with a little more consideration than a cheap fortune cookie, look elsewhere.


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