The Kingdom of the Green spreads throughout the world in Future State: Swamp Thing #1 (opens in new tab).
Written by Ram V
Drawn by Mike Perkins
Colored by June Chung
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The world has moved on and the only living things on it are plants. Specifically the Swamp Thing and his 'court': various humanoid plant people made up of their original clippings, who carry out the Swamp Thing's orders and worship him almost like a god. But when one of the last real humans reveals themselves to the Green, heralding something called 'the Obsidian Sun' and a weapon that will further kill the world, Swamp Thing must take stock of his new kingdom and the flesh's place within.
Picking up almost directly from the tease in Dark Nights: Death Metal - The Last 52: War of the Multiverses, writer Ram V and artists Mike Perkins and June Chung drop us hip-deep in this new Swampy-ruled world. And the story is much stronger for the lack of details. We are given a quick jolt of dialogue about the "world that was before," how the superheroes' constant warring and the folly of man has turned it into a new kingdom for plantlife, but through the obfuscation from V, the mystery and ethos of Swamp Thing is strengthened.
A feeling and tone that is fully hammered home by the expressive, but somewhat off-putting artwork of Mike Perkins and June Chung. Injected with dark, brooding colors by Chung, Perkins' pencils bring a real rough, indie horror-esque look to the title, setting it apart from the rest of the 'Future State' line just by virtue of it being a straight-up horror book...
... Because it absolutely functions as one! Unmoored by the usual trappings of superhero event comic books and buffeted by a time-jump of indeterminate amounts of time into the future, Ram V and company are allowed ample room for their own kind of story. One far more concerned with the nature of self and the ethical nature of "creating life" than it is being an accessible superhero yarn. While the tonal dissonance might make it clash somewhat with the rest of the titles that share it's trade dressing, Future State: Swamp Thing #1 is far too weird, far too gross, and far too specific to just dismiss outright for the clash.
It also just looks too good to ignore thanks to Mike Perkins and June Chung. Projecting an expressive, but clearly dystopian inspired set of visuals, Perkins and Chung carve out their own particular patch of Future State and start tending that garden as soon as possible. The result is a cast of plant Metal Men essentially, holding the panels down with Swampy as they navigate through the fallen city of New York, blinding white Canadian blizzards, and the wine-dark deep of cave systems. Ram and the art team even manage to throw an extended visual callback to Moore's 'The Anatomy Lesson' as well, intercutting the action with grisly, but interesting cross-sections of human(ish) body diagrams, supporting the narration from Alec about how complex it was to create his new subjects. Heady stuff, for sure, but all elements and tones that feel right at home in the pages of a Swamp Thing comic.
So by standing apart from the rest of the line, both on a visual and narrative level, Future State: Swamp Thing #1 makes a compelling case for being one of the best of the first wave. Empowered with a singular look, dark expressionism, and reverently cool take on Alec Holland, Future State: Swamp Thing #1 means business, both as a series opener and an example of this team's prowess with the Green.
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