Review: Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1
It’s easy to admire how Goosebumps approaches YA horror, especially in pursuing dark stories without the intention of dialing down the evil behind them. This is the case with the new mini-series set within its universe, Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp, where three girls find themselves in the middle of a battle between werewolves and wolf-hunters. With this setup, writer Marieke Nijkamp and artist Yasmín Flores Montañez kick-off a story that updates the classic Goosebumps formula with a strong and diverse cast along with familiar monsters offering new scares.
The story follows Blake, an expert gamer looking to pass the summer beating high scores online. Her aunt, whom she is staying with, tries to get her back into the real world with hints and clues as to the myths and legends of the town of Fever Swamp. Horror starts to creep in with this revelation as Blake meets Lily and Cara and tales of swamp monsters start circulating between them.
Flores Montañez and colorist Rebecca Nalty do wonders with the setting. Fever Swamp looks vibrant and colorful but dangerous as well. There’s something about a swamp setting that screams blood and monsters and the art team does a great job of capturing it in all its terrifying glory. Colors seamlessly transition from lighter into darker variations of themselves and in the process help carry the storytelling as it moves towards all-out horror.
The characters’ facial expressions make them feel instantly relatable given they’re so storied and alive. By the end of this first issue, I felt as if I had been reading these characters for a long time. It speaks volumes to Flores Montañez’s ability to bring life into the comics page and the characters that inhabit them.
Nijkamp’s script is expertly paced and allows the story to unravel without heavy exposition dumps. Nothing is explicitly and definitively explained, allowing for a grander sense of the unknown to settle in. As the monsters of the swamp start coming out of the dark, we get the sense that they’re carrying stories with them that don’t conform to the classic trope of ‘good vs. evil’.
Secrets of the Swamp remarkably offers a lot of story in each panel. Details that range from the text on a character’s shirt to the way they move and even how their hair is styled all play into the uniqueness of each character’s identity. This comic feels well lived in. It makes sure readers come back to its world to further uncover its mysteries.
Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1 is a strong start to a YA horror story that can set a good example as to how to get the most out of the genre. The creative team for this comic is in perfect synchronization and it shows. Stay with this comic. There’s a lot of horror to be had with the promise of more to come.
Story: Marieke Nijkamp Art: Yasmín Flores Montañez Colors: Rebecca Nalty
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy, read, and then visit a swamp (just not alone).
IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review