Written by: James TynionIV & Ram V
Art by: Guillem March
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Simon “BlaxKleric” Moore
Although Ram V was absolutely correct in his pre-publication publicity that this comic contains “a story about Swamp Thing and The King of Petals and the greater events of The Justice League Dark storyline”, the “award winning author” was arguably doing his narrative to the thirty-eight page long “A Carious Bloom” something of a distinct disservice. For whilst “this one-of-a-kind story” unquestionably features plenty of Alec Holland’s horrific-looking alter-ego, as the anthropomorphic mound of vegetable matter ponders the fall of the Parliament of Trees and exchanges barbed comments with a somewhat disconcertingly all-knowing John Constantine, it is undoubtedly this book’s fascination with the emotionally draining fate of Doctor Oleander Sorrel which provides it with a hook few perusing bibliophiles could surely resist..?
Indeed, rather than simply being a tale concerning the super-heroic exploits of a monstrously transformed swamp monster, an edgy “supernatural advisor”, a member of the Bureau of Amplified Animals and an Amazonian Princess, this “Justice League Dark” Annual instead provides its audience with a completely compelling, yet equally chilling, literary journey involving an agonized parent’s worst nightmare. Certainly, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed with emotion for Natasha at the loss of her young son to cancer, or the grim fate of the woman’s distraught husband when “his walking grief” wants to spend time at her sisters and seemingly never returns to therapeutically mourn their dead child with him; “I poured myself into work after that. Hours spent planting strains into the ground. I did not eat. I did not sleep.”
Just as enthralling as this comic’s tearful plot is Guillem March’s beautiful storyboards, which go a long way to help pace out the despair-laden drama across such a sizable, well-populated periodical. Frantically paneled one moment to depict the quick-fire banter between Swamp Thing and the Hall of Justice’s most recent addition, as well as infer the panic of Oleander’s beating heart as he races through his home looking for his upset wife, the professional illustrator from Spain also occasionally slows things down to a much more settling, sedentary pace courtesy of a lavishly-sketched flashback sequence showing a grim-faced, bespectacled Sorrel experimenting upon his blessed flowers all on his lonesome, or a fantastically-colorful and well-detailed drawing of the short-lived King of Petals, eerily stalking full of bloom through the undergrowth of his former life’s garden.
Check out Simon’s blog here: https://thebrownbagaeccb.blogspot.co.uk/