DC Comics’ The Swamp Thing has been a story about a lot of things. It’s a series about environmentalism, the immortality of ideas, and it’s a story about family. The Swamp Thing #9 manages to touch on all of those themes, while also eagerly employing classic comic book tropes. Writer Ram V, artist Mike Perkins, colorist Mike Spicer, and letterer Aditya Bidikar have tons of fun with The Swamp Thing #9. It’s an issue with lots of heart.
V brings all of the threads of this sprawling series together. Our mysterious villain, Mr. Pilgrim, and our heroes are finally meeting face-to-face. And, nearly immediately, Pilgrim begins monologuing. V’s pulling right from classic comics with this scene, and it feels just right. Part of what makes Pilgrim’s history lesson work is that V is constantly jumping around in this script. We see Levi racing to the rescue, thinking back on all the omens and warnings he’s scene that have told him everything would lead to this, then we come back to hear more about Pilgrim’s plans.
As we reach the final scene, V shows how his deep, philosophical character study and his pulpy, tropey comic script fits together. Braiding both aspects of the story together seamlessly, V leaves us on a rousing story beat. It will leave you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the last issue in this miniseries.
So much of this comic’s ability to have its cake and eat it too comes from Perkins’ brilliant art. When V’s script transitions from a pulpy action sequence to a scene of Levi wrestling with his past, it’s Perkins who makes the switch feel seamless. That’s because, even in Perkins’ action sequences, you can see the fear in Swamp Thing’s eyes. He never loses the humanity at the core of this story. But he’s also full of the comic book tropey fun, too. Pilgrim’s face shows up in a variety of sinister expressions throughout the issue. He’s a character who’s evil and proud of it. Perkins makes the character terrifying, though you still can’t help but kind of love him too.
In this issue, we see Pilgrim’s collected research on the Swamp Thing. He has screens lit up with decades of research. Each screen, Spicer colors in a shade of green. But it’s not the rich, dark green that we’ve become familiar with in this series. It’s a yellowing green, a green that almost seems to be rotting. With this, Spicer makes Pilgrim’s efforts to connect to the Green look counterfeit and off. Then, when Levi shows up as the Swamp Thing, we see the deep green of nature come flying into the picture. Spicer’s coloring is both stunning and meaningful.
Bidikar’s lettering choices are always rich with purpose. When we see one of Levi’s memories, the dialogue is shown in a faded grey font. It’s easy to picture the sound of it, like an echo in your head, not something you hear out loud. Later, Bidikar shows Swamp Thing screaming in desperation. The letters burst past the outline of his word balloon, like they can’t be contained. Then, as the issue closes, we see Swamp Thing speak his first bolded word. Bidikar holds off using bold earlier in the issue to give this final moment all the punch it needs.
DC Comics’ The Swamp Thing continues to be bafflingly beautiful. V, Perkins, Spicer, and Bidikar have delivered a series that’s both complex and fun at the same time. This issue sets us up for a grand finale. Hopefully, that’s not the last we see of these characters. There still seems to be plenty of story to tell. Pick up The Swamp Thing #9, out from DC Comics November 2nd, at a comic shop near you!