Ram V, Mike Perkins, and June Chung’s apocalyptic Swamp Thing yarn comes to a conclusion in Future State: Swamp Thing #2. Swamp Thing, his children, and the last remnants of humanity storm a STAR Labs bunker in Canada where Jason Woodrue is using the body of the superhero Obsidian to black out the sun forever and bring an end to the world. Swamp Thing #2 is definitely heavier on the action than the previous installment, but it also sets up kind of an ideological duel between Swamp Thing and one of his greatest villains, Woodrue aka the Floronic Man. Basically, Woodrue is a human who feels more of a natural kinship with plants and wants to destroy humanity while Swamp Thing sees their potential and capacity for things like hope, transcendence, and belief. This book has discussions on the nature of the soul and fisticuffs.
June Chung’s color palette hammers home the themes of Future State: Swamp Thing #2 along with the nature of its characters, and Aditya Bidikar’s letters do a similar thing by using a more vibrant world balloon color for Swamp Thing and cold, dying one for Woodrue. Chung’s glimpse into the STAR fortress shows an environment that is utterly sterile with a blast of purple energy around Obsidian and a red hoodie for Woodrue that symbolizes his opposition to Swamp Thing and the Green. It complements the twisted nature of Mike Perkins’ art as he goes full horror in showing Woodrue’s face that looks like the exposed bark of a tree, and his rib cage where he’s replaced his human organs with plant parts. Perkins can do the action-packed double-page spreads of Swamp Thing’s children overwhelming STAR’s soldiers as well as the defiant poses of Swamp Thing walking through the flames while Chung makes his hue greener and greener. But he also has a gift for the macabre in his close-ups of Woodrue and other sequences towards the end of the comic, which come back to Swamp Thing’s horror roots. This is why I’m excited to see Perkins’ work on the ongoing Swamp Thing series with Ram V.
Speaking of Ram V, his writing once again is very florid, but it matches the tone of Future State: Swamp Thing #2. Woodrue and Swamp Thing have lived for millennia, and Swamp Thing has even participated in sub-creation so, of course, they have beautiful thoughts about life and death, creation and destruction, and nature and humanity. V and Perkins go beyond the conflict between good and evil and instead play with Swamp Thing’s complex relationship to humans and nature via the Green. As evidenced by the first issue and the “anatomy” flashbacks to his process in creating them, he deeply cares about his children, but they are only emanations of him and don’t have that “something extra” (i.e. a soul) that humanity has. This is why he storms the STAR fortress and explains his actions in the final act of the comic. Even though hope is a recurring theme and life and new growth is a recurring image in Future State: Swamp Thing, this is actually a pretty tragic comic in the end.
As well as Swamp Thing, Ram V, Mike Perkins, and June Chung also do a wonderful job making Jason Woodrue a compelling villain. For the most part, he’s an ecoterrorist on steroids with his mission of ridding the Green of the blight of the humanity taken the furthest extreme. So, he’s not the most sympathetic figure. However, he does have one great panel where he connects with Swamp Thing’s children and shows them that Swamp Thing (In some shape or form; it’s a bit ambiguous.) is responsible for destroying the world. He seeds doubt in the mind of these children, and Perkins draws him like an anatomy diagram with skin and the Green in the place of muscle tissue. Looking at the narrative from a big picture view as well as in light of what Swamp Thing eventually does, his children are right to be wary of how much he cares about the humans, who have treated the environment terribly and even attacked them in a previous issue. Swamp Thing even criticizes humanity’s propensity for violence in the middle of Future State: Swamp Thing #2’s fight sequence while lifting them up. Through this doubt-tinged dialogue, Ram V truly shows the conflict in Swamp Thing between the Green and his human host, who we never see in this issue.
Future State: Swamp Thing #2 is a powerful and thought-provoking conclusion to Ram V, Mike Perkins, and June Chung’s saga of humanity versus nature in the shadow of the end of the world. Swamp Thing himself is portrayed as a complex figure, who must make difficult choices about whether to cast his lot with his children (Who are really just extensions of himself) or with the humans, who have some good eggs but are also trying to blot out the sun and end life on this planet. Future: Swamp Thing is a disaster story with soul that ends on just the right note of hope and tragedy.
Story: Ram V Art: Mike Perkins
Colors: June Chung Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review