Is there any other DC Comics character who appears as much as Swamp Thing and yet has so few solo issues? I’m pretty sure I said the same thing back in my review of the Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular, but this time my statement is supported by some positive news. DC Future State has been a joy to read, and this two-part Swamp Thing story is no different, and the good news is that this pair of issues is just the gateway to a whole new 10 issue series from Ram V and Mike Perkins. Honestly, are there any better men for the job?
Due to hit shelves in March, I’m already in. Ram V has been a core part of DC’s recent history. His work on Justice League Dark has been top notch and one of the most consistent titles in the last two years. He has been working on stories featuring Swamp Thing, and now is the time for the Avatar of the Green’s first monthly series since the New 52.
However, before we get to all that, we’re thrilled to take a look at this Future State icebreaker.
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Ram V
Artwork: Mike Perkins, June Chung
Lettering: by Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 5th Jan 2021 (issue #1), 2nd Feb 2021 (issue #2)
Set in an undefined future, we are introduced to the pretty standard bleak outlook that comic books have become famous for. Humanity is on the brink of collapse. Again. Honestly, this story presents the simplest of themes, but the good thing about Swamp Thing is that a lot of his stories are extremely basic but with a great emotional discovery and character depth. I mean, remember in the Saga of the Swamp Thing where the evil villain’s plan was to increase plant life to the point that only plants would survive? Remember said villain being defeated with a single conversation that highlighted the simple fact that plants need the CO2 from the animals and that removing them would remove the plants? The story and ending were ostensibly flimsy but masterfully told, and it’s remembered very fondly to this day.
In this timeline, humanity is in remission. Through their fear and love of violence, the human race is on the brink of extinction. Humanlike plants who live under Father Green are left exploring the Earth. Each of these Swamp Thing-esque characters have their own personality traits that define them, and each of them has their own art style and core personalities that become very recognisable very quickly. The interactions between them and Father Green shows the respect between them, but Ram V uses the dialogue to patch some history and create new mysteries. As a collective, they are seeking the remaining tribes of humanity but each have their own individual goals and opinions. For instance, Indigo is the realist of the group who has a fairly poor view of humanity. Using their harmony with the green they commune with the trees to track humanity, but not all members are as motivated as others.
As with most Swamp Thing stories, themes like division, prejudice and hope are tackled here. However, unlike majority of previous encounters, humanity is now being judged by The Green, rather than Swamp Thing himself being hunted, feared and studied. Mike Perkins does a stellar job of realising this version of the world, and June Chung brings a real depth to it, using a stunning range of blues and greens which contrast beautifully the white of the snow and the warmer flesh tones of humanity. I particularly loved the call-back to the scientific diagrams from previous runs.
The Green Father and his offspring all have a very retro feel to them, albeit with a modern flair. Each Green Child has defined physical qualities which, combined with Ram V’s character-defining writing, results in fresh-yet-familiar characters who are easy to bond with – a doubly impressive feat for characters who may only be written for a two-issue special.
During confrontations with humanity, the Children of the Green try to understand the Green Father’s warmth for the human race. However, with the humans showing a primal fear their relationship will be sorely tested. This tension is very much the build to the climax where the threat becomes realised. With the human extinction event being related to prior Swamp Thing actions, humanity has gone to extreme lengths to reclaim their own power. Even going so far as to create a doomsday device which specifically targets the Green.
Heading into issue two, we have only 22 pages left to wrap up this short story. However, the short issue really leans into the strength of both Ram V and Mike Perkins who captivate on every page.
In previous Swamp Thing stories there has been a harmony of romance, science, horror and responsibility, all blended together into an almost poetical narrative. This same feel is conveyed beautifully here on every one of the 22 pages, as we are frequently given scientific imagery reminiscent of early Swamp Thing publications.
The romance of nature and humanity has always been solid, even defining the relationship with Abby Arcane in her previous role of Avatar of the Rot. Swamp Thing and horror go hand in hand with many of the Alan Moore runs featuring delicious body horror, but to be able to replicate all these themes in just 22 pages is an immense talent and hypes me hugely for the upcoming 10-issue run.
As always, there are a lot of spoilers I have to be wary of in my reviews but as I previously mentioned, the plots to Swamp Thing comics are normally very simply storylines smothered in brilliance. In this case, humanity threatens The Green the same way The Green damaged humanity in Future State’s past timeline. And with a familiar face returning to face the Avatar of the Green, we have once again book that respects its history while adding a fresh, modern flair.
DC’s New 52 was exceptional for Swamp Thing as it opened up new ideas to the mythos. While for many readers it left a lot of the core Swamp Thing elements behind, it also opened up new doors, and Future State Swamp Thing is no different. It picks and chooses some of the most iconic elements of Swamp Things history and builds on them with new ideas.
Tackling the issues of the swamp monster’s loneliness is a reoccurring theme. The early runs had him counselled by his romantic interest, Andy Diggle and Brian K Vaugn tackled his family (kind of) and the New 52 added the former Avatars of the Green in mentor roles while Justice League and Justice League Dark gave him opposition as much as friends. In Future State, he is his own company and the interactions are just delicious for the reader. If Ram V and Perkins can recreate and refresh the magic of nearly 50 years of Swamp Thing in just two issues, I cannot wait to see what they can do in ten.