Writer: Jon Rivera
Artist: Langdon Foss
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Letterist: Clem Robbins
Cover By Ryan Hughes
Editor: Molly Mahan
Crossover brought to you by Gerard Way and Steve Orlando
Swamp Thing created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson
Warning: This review contains a lot of spoilers, so, if you haven’t read this issue yet, you may want to opt for our spoiler-free version which you can find by clicking here.
I was worried and excited about reading this issue after reading the first 3 and knowing that the issue that was going to have the most answers before we got to the finale- and it did exactly that.
I’ve never read any of the Swamp Thing comics so I was nervous and didn’t know as though I would like this one. If anything I thought this would be my least favorite of the four for that very reason, but I was happily surprised because I thoroughly enjoyed this issue.
So let’s get into it!
The issue starts with Chloe, as a Retconn intern, is handing out Milk to everyone who is working in office cubicles, including her dad, Cave Carson. They are both under the Milk’s spell, but the milk just doesn’t seem to be setting right with Cave who is struggling with stomach issues. He drinks some of the milk after Chloe urges him to drink the milk, but has to abandon it because his stomach just can’t seem to handle it.
They are then joined by Wild Dog who claims to be Chief of Security and they all decide to go on a lunch break, while Chloe marvels at the Wonder Wife and Father Bruce popstars (which are basically like Funkos) that Cave has in his cubicle. She wonders why Milkman Man is not present, and we have to wonder this too with as much of a fanboy Cave is for Superman, why in this reality would Retconn’s version of Milkman Man not be the first in his collection? He then says “It seems that Milkman Man is the final piece.” and we wonder if that is a nod to the upcoming Finale from having seen the cover that has him yet again predominantly displayed.
As they walk to the break room they continue to talk about the popstar figurines and how they work for branding. Chloe remarks about them helping people express themselves and Cave agrees by adding “You got that right, kiddo! “The brand maketh the man,” as they used to say in Sunday School.”
This leaves you to wonder several things. The first being is if it was Father Bruce that taught that Sunday School, and the second being if this episode is going to be about how people these days to have any sort of public persona have to create a brand and be a brand…or maybe I’m just digging too deep.
Once at the break room Cave is feeling worse and in a comical exchange he tells Chloe and Wild Dog that he doesn’t know if he’s going to puke or shit himself, to which Wild Dog reminds him to watch his language.
Just then Cave’s eye bounces out of a carton of milk and seems to be making everyone nervous. (This is also a great place to point out how much of the big details can be hidden in the art. Cave is wearing an eye patch to hide the disappearance of his eye.) While his cybernetic eye causes chaos, Cave is suddenly hungry for salad and can’t get enough of it.
The chaos just keeps going as Cave starts to puke vines that take the shape of Chloe, Cave and Wild Dog and start to have a conversation that seems to me like Swamp Thing was trying to show them how they ended up in the Retconn offices to begin with by allowing themselves to be captured. As the vines start spreading across the break room, a Retconn employee explains that they had been given a mission to keep Cave at the offices until the Boss came back and that is what they did. The vines attack the employee and he is split apart as Swamp Thing emerges and proceeds to use his vines to squeeze the milk out of Cave, Chloe and Wild Dog’s systems so they can come back to reality again.
Once Swamp Thing and Cave get a chance to talk it is explained that Swamp Thing had called upon Cave because he had discovered Retconn’s headquarters and they were trying to free “the dreamers” when Cave sent his eye off into hiding, Swamp Thing hid in his stomach and the rest of the team allowed themselves to be captured.
The door breaks down and the office employees are set on taking the team out so they split up. Swamp Thing stays behind to save Wild Dog and Chloe and Cave head for the ventilation system. Just before leaving Swamp Thing puts a yellow rose in Chloe’s hair and says this is how he will be able to find them. I thought this was incredibly sweet because it reminded me of the scene in Mother Panic where Violet’s mother gives a white rose to her as she’s leaving to help Cave.
One thing I did find confusing though is when they exit the ventilation system they seem to suddenly have equipment they didn’t have before and I’m not quite sure how that worked out. Cave did say in the panel before that he wanted to find a supply closet, so perhaps we were meant to assume he found one, either way it does not impact the story.
They lower themselves down into what appears to be an office space that is no longer used and Cave uses his eye to communicate with the computers there. He starts to see bits and pieces of what they are up to and one is a theatrical trailer of a The Passion Play starring Rita Farr.
Meanwhile Chloe checks out the figurines and decides she’s going to gather them up to buy a new car and save the Superman one for her dad. The figurines however, have something else in mind as they seem to come to life and Chloe is face to face with her very own popstar figurine and it doesn’t seem friendly.
I had to laugh as the figurines attacked Cave and his sadness when the Superman figurine seemed to dissolve in his hands and he exclaimed “They’re full of meat.” I mean, what else could we expect in a Young Animal book? Of course they are full of meat.
Luckily Swamp Thing finds them, not so luckily Wild Dog is coming after them still under the influence. They realize that it has to be the mask and they need to get it off him.
The fight scene with WIld Dog is wildly entertaining. I loved that he was dropping “Milk Bombs” shaped like Milk Bones. And I especially loved the scene where Cave kills Bugman with bug spray and Wild Dog’s response is “He had kids you son of a bitch! Thousands of ‘em!”
Once Wild Dog returns to himself we are back on the mission to locate the dreamers and free their spirits. Cave explains the eye has discovered where the dreamers are located and we laugh along with him as we discover it’s the “Human Resources” department.
Once we arrive though laughs end. Swamp Thing is overcome with the emotions and cries of the spirits. He psychically connects to Cave, Chloe and Wild Dog to enlist their help sorting out what they are trying to say.
We learn that Retconn’s power source is authors, poets and artists. They are no longer alive in a physical sense but their spirits are being kept alive by Retconn so they can steal their art.
In a beautiful moment when Chloe says it’s “Art killing art” I’m reminded of the scene in the first issue of Milk Wars when Jane activates the art saying “Everything is art. We just have to activate it.” and now here we are, our heroes faced with an impossible choice. There is no way to revive these individuals, all they can do is free their spirits and let them rest in peace, which is exactly what they do.
The decide to use the dead bodies to make a fertilizer bomb which will allow them to blow a hole in Retconn and escape that way. In a touching moment we see Chloe put a flower on the chest of one of the victims while saying she wished there was more they could have done for them. And then minutes later the explosion happens and they are free to go find the Mighty Mole and head off to safety (and find a hospital for Wild Dog and his broken ribs).
But that’s not how Cave sees this playing out and, despite the pleas from Chloe for him to come too, he decides someone needs to stay behind to make sure the building is demolished so Retconn can never make more dreamers again, and that someone is going to be him.
We watch as they all say their goodbyes and once the team is gone, Cave returns to a door that is about to give way and walks through to the monsters waiting on the other side while saying “Okay then, you have me. Take me to your leader.” And we are left waiting to see what will happen next in the Milk Wars Finale.
I really enjoyed this issue, it was jam packed with touching moments, laughs, explanations, questions and adventure. I wish I could give more of a personal opinion on this issue beyond that I enjoyed everything about it. I think the art is incredible, the colors are perfection, the lettering on point and the writing just absolutely remarkable. I feel like I will have a lot more to say once reading the finale since this book really set us up nicely for what’s to go come. The other three issues had ends that lead to a new beginning and it was easy to form an opinion on them. This one is left open and I ended reading it feeling like I needed more information, which I think is a great show of how amazing this issue truly is. When you get to the end of an issue and you have that burning internal need (that feels like that moment when Cave can’t reach Superman) because you need more pages, it’s a show of a great book, and this was definitely one of those times for me.
And lastly I just want to mention that Jon had a big task with this issue since it had to tie in with all the issues leading up to it and the finale and he did so incredibly well (and managed to find room for meat). I think this just might be his best work yet and I am incredibly impressed.
Rating: I loved it.
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