Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1 Review: Fever Swamp Nostalgia

Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1
7.5/10
Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1 sees the comic based on R. L. Stines novels return to a familiar location: Fever Swamp.

Goosebumps comic in 2020 is likely to attract two very different audiences. Obviously, kids have always loved Goosebumps, and it will be no different with this title. The other audience this comic would thrill is that of comic book lovers who grew up on R. L. Stine's Goosebumps novellas, as this new comic series, Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp will offer a small dose of nostalgia with a modern twist.

Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1 cover. Credit: IDW Publishing
Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #1 cover. Credit: IDW Publishing

The story is one that fans of the books will find familiar… but in a comfortable way rather than a hackneyed way. Writer Marieke Nijkamp introduces Blake, a young girl with what seems to be a tragic (recent) past whose life is uprooted when she must move in with her aunt in a town with which lovers of the series will be quite familiar: Fever Swamp. Blake, an avid gamer with a prosthetic arm, ends up meeting her arch-rival in Lore Hunt in Fever Swamp. Their senses of competition lead the two to take a daring, late-night trek into the swamp which, lore has it, is filled with monsters. The covers, of course, show werewolves, and the original The Werewolf of Fever Swamp novel is iconic enough that the monster reveal at the end is no surprise. Still, Nijkamp captures the fish-out-of-water feeling that Stine returned to often in his books, making Blake a sympathetic and interesting protagonist who the reader will root for. Goosebumps as a series of novels, lovingly embraced tropes, red herrings, and scares that turn out to be pranks, and that energy translates perfectly to comics. Stine is a big fan of comics himself and took that "page turn" pacing into his prose, where he would deliver two to four-page chapters that end in startling moments only for things to immediately ease at the start of the next chapter. Nijkamp's script balances that feeling of uncertainty with a more deliberate, character-focused pace well.

The art from Yasmin Florez Montanez and colorist Rebecca Nalty is good, delivering a style that feels a bit like the BOOM! Studios hit Lumberjanes. The characters themselves look great, but unfortunately, the monster reveal at the end is completely underwhelming competed to the werewolf on the cover by Bill Underwood. The letters by Danny Djeljosevic are serviceable, with a few awkwardly placed balloons here and there that were noticeable but didn't take away from the story.

Overall, this new comic series is a fun take on Goosebumps, which kids will enjoy, and nostalgic readers will appreciate it.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.