The Infinite Frontier era of the DC Universe kicked off with the arrival of a new Swamp Thing in Levi Kamei, who uses his newfound powers to defend the DCU. However, Levi’s ascension has not gone unnoticed. The Suicide Squad is tasked to hunt the superhero and track him down to Levi’s native India. As Swamp Thing faces off against Task Force X, the circumstances behind Levi’s connection to the Green emerge as a superhero showdown unfolds.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, series writer Ram V shared his inspiration behind creating Levi Kamei, talked about how Swamp Thing’s confrontation with the Suicide Squad informed Levi’s overall story, and hinted at what readers can expect next from the elemental hero.
Also included with this interview is a preview of The Swamp Thing #7, written by Ram V, drawn by Mike Perkins, colored by Mike Spicer, and lettered by Aditya Bidikar. Additionally, The Swamp Thing #7’s standard cover, drawn by Perkins and colored by Spicer, and its variant cover, drawn and colored by Francesco Mattina, are also included below.
With The Swamp Thing #7, you pit Levi against the Suicide Squad. How was it coordinating with Robbie Thompson, and what did you want this particular roster to bring to the wider story you’re telling?
Ram V: Robbie is an absolute gent. Both he and editor Mike Cotton were very accommodating, helpful and enthusiastic about making sure this felt like both books were having an effect on each other without necessarily imposing changes on each other. I think we did that effectively and that’s part of the joy of comics for me, this feeling of interconnectedness.
As far as the roster goes — I wanted to pick characters that would present interesting windows/perspectives for Swamp Thing to go against. I am particularly proud of what Nightmare Nurse brings to the story as readers will see in this issue!
Mike Perkins is delivering some of the wildest, most engaging page and paneling layouts in mainstream comics today on this book. How is it working with him on those sequences?
Yeah, Mike’s brilliant.
Objectively, I think Mike’s style and his influences make him the perfect artist for a contemporary Swamp Thing book. I am incredibly lucky to be working with him and overjoyed to find that Mike’s a fantastic collaborator. I am always a little wary when I have visual ideas for a scene because I don’t want to impose them on the artist. Mike and I have a great rapport in that sense. I can go to him with ideas knowing that he has the ability to take them and come up with something that is uniquely him on the page but still carries the essence of what we wanted to do. That kind of relationship is rare.
How has your creative shorthand grown with Mike Perkins and Spicer since the start of the Infinite Frontier era?
Comics is all about communication, especially early on. We did a lot of talking and exchanging ideas and notes on the early issues. It pays off incredibly well because we’re a pretty well-oiled machine now. Aditya [Bidikar], Mike Spicer, and Mike Perkins all immediately know exactly what we’re all collectively aiming for with the look and feel of the book.
Do you remember how the idea behind Levi Kamei came up? What did you want him to bring to the Swamp Thing mythos?
Levi was very much part of my original pitch. Back when DC editorial invited a proposal for the series, I knew that part of my creative endeavor was to develop the sort of story that truly embodied the idea that Superheroes belong to the world. I also felt, particularly with Swamp Thing, that Alec Holland was a character of his time. There were so many stories told around the character that the greater arcs eventually led to interpersonal drama set around him and his relationships. I found that reductive.
So, I thought of tethering the Swamp Thing to a new host. Someone new, who came from a different part of the world and a different cultural perspective. It felt like a character from the present would generate new and interesting stories.
Why was it important to bring Swamp Thing’s showdown with the Suicide Squad back to Levi’s home in India?
This part of Season 1 was always going to come back to India and talk about the circumstances surrounding Levi’s origins. So, you might say it is the Suicide Squad that was later entrants into that thought process. When my editors proposed including the Suicide Squad, I immediately saw thematic resonance and the opportunity to do something unusual with the Squad characters. So, I was quite excited by the idea.
The interlude in the Green was one of the more surreal moments in the wider story. What did you want to do within this elemental realm?
I think there is a tendency in comics — and in genre stories in general — when a concept has been around for a while, invariably the inclination is to make it tangible, to define it as an object, and then create more objects around it to expand its mythos. That is one approach. You can see it with the proliferation of the parliaments in the Swamp Thing Mythos.
I don’t find this approach particularly exciting. Instead, I like to push things into more conceptual realms. The Green in The Swamp Thing is not an object. It is not a place. Not a realm. It is an idea. The idea of intergenerational memories of plants and all things green forming their own reality. This approach gives rise to stories that lend themselves to more conceptual explorations and a level of nuance and abstractness that I aspire to. There will be more to come in that vein.
With the defeat of the Pale Wanderer in the opening arc, Batman was seen observing the proceedings. Is there anything you can tease about him or just the overall story in the months to come?
I’ll keep the story surprises to myself. I will say this. This is not the last we have seen of the Pale Wanderer or Bats!
Written by Ram V with art by Mike Perkins, The Swamp Thing #7 is on sale now from DC.
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