Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp has been playing with expectations and horror tropes since the story began, having the hero be a disabled woman of colour, having the monster hunters be the bad guys, and having the werewolves be innocent victims in all of this. It’s taken everything you’ve expected this kind of horror story to do and has done the opposite. And the conclusion is no exception.
This issue picks up where the last one left off, with Blake coming face to face with Lilly in the forest once again, after Lilly appeared to leave Blake alone in the woods a few issues before. It’s nice that in the middle of everything that’s been going on, with all of the panic and running around with the werewolves trying to get away from Lilly’s family, we get this quiet moment for Blake to be able to confront her. It allows the writer to manage some last moments of character development in what would otherwise be a pretty fast paced issue, and allows Lilly to present her side of the argument to both Blake and the readers, allowing us to make our own decision as to whether the young woman has been doing the right thing or not.
Outside of this confrontation we get some action that’s pretty similar to the previous issues, with Blake working with the ‘monsters’ to get away from the humans that are hunting them. As in previous issues this allows Blake to show off her skills and bravery, having completely transformed from the young woman who was running around the swamp scared just a few issues ago.
I’m honestly kind of sad to see the story end with this issue, especially given what happens in the final pages of the book. I know that the Goosebumps stories tend to be short, and that this particular comic has gone on for longer than some of the other entries in the franchise, but I still found myself wanting to spend more time with these characters by the time it had wrapped up. It’s very rare that Goosebumps get sequels, and I can only think of one or two off the top of my head, but if they ever want to return to this setting and these characters I’m going to be grabbing those issues straight away, as this has been one of the most fun experiences with the Goosebumps comics I’ve had.
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Writer Marieke Nijkamp has managed to do a really good job of balancing action and character development over the course of this series, and does the good trick of setting things up to appear one way before pulling the rug out from beneath the reader and giving you something else. These subversions make the story feel fresh and new, and prevent it from just treading the same old ground.
The art team of Yasmin Florez Montanez and Rebecca Nalty also work really well together, and the book is one of the better looking entries in the Goosebumps series. Montanez manages to make all the characters look different and distinct, and the werewolves stand out as particularly good, especially mid transformation; and Nalty uses an excellent colour pallete to make the whole thing jump off the page, with the parts that take place inside the swamp having their own distinct look from every other part of the book. It’s a shame that the story has come to an end, but this is still one of the best that Goosebumps and IDW have done together.
Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #5 is out now from IDW Publishing.