Arguably the best comic universe right now is the “Sunstone-Verse” out of Top Cow, anchored by Stejpan Sejic’s Sunstone and Linda Sejic’s Blood Stain. Last year, this little universe of sex-positivism was joined by Swing, by Linda Sejic, Matt Hawkins, and Jenni Cheung. Where Sunstone examined BDSM culture in a positive, honest manner, Swing did the same for, well, swingers. The first volume of the series offered a great middle ground between the tame adventures of Blood Stain and the erotica of Sunstone, while having a unique voice of its own. While Swing Volume 2 gives readers much of the same, it doesn’t live up to the standards set by this little universe’s previous entries.
Overall, Swing Volume 2 is a worthy continuation of the story. The trio of creators (Sejic, Hawkins, and Cheung) craft a story that is honest, open, and affecting. Joining these three is artist Yishan Li, who previously worked with Hawkins and Cheung on another romance graphic novel, Sugar. While her art does not have the stylistic flair or Sejic’s, it is a great fit as the story evolves. Yi’s characters are very expressive, which enhances the emotional weight that the story carries. However, much of the art felt… safe. It’s an odd criticism, but Swing spends much of its time focused on raw human physicality which isn’t fully reflected in the art.
Perhaps the biggest failing of Swing Volume 2 is the script. The story itself is strong, but is undercut by clunky dialogue throughout. While mostly competent, there are several instances where the dialogue becomes stilted and forced instead of the organic, naturalistic voices readers have become accustomed to. This is especially prevalent during the face-timing sequences, in which Dan and Cathy try to meet up with other couples that partake in their lifestyle. Their dialogue is just… off. It could be that this is due to the couple projecting an idealized version of themselves in meeting people, which is a very common practice. Many people do not reveal their true selves and are awkward around new people. But there’s nothing to indicate that was the case. This happens throughout the volume, and is its most significant flaw.
With that said, Swing does a lot right in its second installment. The progression of Dan and Cathy’s relationship is fulfilling. The new territory they find themselves creates opportunities for character growth and conflict which the creative team takes advantage of. Their descent into the lifestyle uncovers their insecurities as individuals. This is particularly true of Dan, who is revealed to be very overprotective of Cathy and their relationship. He poses on her online (with her consent) to chat with others in an effort to weed out creeps and flakes. While the behavior may be problematic or concerning to some, it comes across as genuine and authentic. The reason that he gets a pass for this behavior is that his actions are conditional on Cathy’s approval, and in one instance where he acts out of step, he is held accountable. Furthermore, though Cathy gives him her blessing, she consistently makes fun of him. Again, this comes across as a genuine interaction that most people can relate to.
As the volume progresses, Cathy and Dan begin to deal with the consequences of being swingers and how it can affect their everyday lives. Between juggling jobs, kids, and a newly rekindled spark between each other, the additional element of interacting with other swingers outside of an intimate setting proves to be jarring. While the specific situation may not be universally relatable, most can empathize with having their routine upended or having different, separate parts of life collide.
Though at a surface level the book appears to be about people living an alternative sexual lifestyle, it is really about relationships and building trust. There is the trust between a couple, and the trust they must build as they engage others in their lifestyle. Based on what is presented here, that trust will be tested in future volumes. What makes Swing work is that, while the situation is unique, the experiences and interactions the characters have are universally relatable and told honestly. While there are some kinks that need to be ironed out for the next volume, Swing will leave you satisfied and smiling.