You may think you know “the Green,” the interconnected network of all of the DC Universe’s plant life, but you’ve never seen it like this. Writer Ram V, artist Mike Perkins, colorist Mike Spicer, and letterer Aditya Bidikar invite us deep into the world of the Green in The Swamp Thing #3. It’s outright hypnotizing in its beauty.
In my last review for DC Comics’ The Swamp Thing, I noted that V seemed to be writing like Alan Moore. His characters spoke in eloquent metaphors and had thoughts that looked like they were pulled right out of a poetry book. It seemed a little odd at times, a little inhuman. But something about The Swamp Thing #3 fits V’s tone perfectly. The poetic nature of his writing, the eloquent back and forth between characters, all feels right. In the world of the Green, everything feels larger than life. So when V’s characters speak like beings out of mythology, it fits. This is an exciting new chapter in V’s The Swamp Thing. It creates a setting and stage for him to write a new mythology into the fabric of the DC Comics Universe. In many ways, V seems to be channeling Lewis Carroll in this chapter as much as he is Alan Moore. It’s whimsical at some moments, melodramatic in others, but all of it feels perfect for the story he’s creating.
Perkins does a magnificent job of surrounding us with the Green. He makes it look as though plants are growing around each panel. Flowers pop out past the gutters on the page, making each plant feel alive and dangerous. That’s how Perkins characterizes the Green. It’s a gorgeous world where everything is so used to being pushed around or put down by humanity. Everything is fighting to survive. Throughout the issue, the Green has a dangerous beauty to it. Whether it’s the plants that frame each scene, or the mysterious characters that fill it, they are each both intoxicating and suspicious. And Perkins doesn’t shy away from this double nature. He’s constantly showing us the faces of characters plotting or full of fear. It’s not just his characters that have life in this issue. The entire world they inhabit feels like a character in its own right.
With a setting like the Green, it’s truly surprising how versatile Spicer’s color palette is. Spicer’s colors are full of dark and deep greens, but there are yellows, pinks, reds and blues too. The pages are brimming with life. And the scenes in the green are colored completely differently from the scenes in the human world. When Levi Kamei gets a CT scan, the page is predominately black. But from the moment he arrives in the Green, we see intense colors. Some characters cause yellow destruction, crackling across the page, others have a pink aura. But none of them are drab or boring. This world is stunning and Spicer makes damn sure of that.
Bidikar’s lettering gives this issue a lyrical quality. Characters take their time talking to one another and Bidikar gives each word balloon space. So, when a character has a long paragraph to speak, they do so in short bursts. Each balloon is connected to the one before, but often with room between each line. When one character sits on a throne and speaks to others like this, it makes her seem fully in control. She moves at her own pace. She is a goddess talking to humans. When another character is talking with Swamp Thing, acting as his guide, she has a rhythm to what she says too. “Jennifer? Juniper? Conifer?” she says. Each has its own world balloon, but the lines are stacked closely together. “Ivy hasn’t seen her!” she finishes with a word balloon that’s far below the rest. You can hear the pause like a playful break in her musical dialogue. It’s thanks to Bidikar’s spacing and division of dialogue that characters often seem to almost be singing, rather than just saying their lines.
DC Comics’ The Swamp Thing #3 is mesmerizing. It pulls you into the world of the Green and has you wishing you could stay. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until issue 4 to visit again. Pick up The Swamp Thing #3, out from DC Comics May 4th, at a comic shop near you!