Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Swamp Thing #1 review

Alec Holland is back from the dead, but he's not the man he was. Saddled with memories of the plant elemental built on his essence after his corpse rotted in a Louisiana swamp, he just wants to forget - it's confusing when you have feelings for 'some woman with white hair' whom you've never met. So he's taken a break from researching a bio-restorative formula and opted for anonymity on a building site.

But he can't escape the past. Not only is the Green - the plant world - constantly reaching out to him, the heroic community is too, in the person of Superman. The Man of Steel shows up and asks Alec if he knows what's been causing creatures to drop dead en masse around the world. That's the presenting issue, anyway; really, the caring Superman wants to know how Alec is dealing emotionally with rebirth, having gone through something similar himself.

Elsewhere, mastodon bones stir, and heads are turned ...

Swamp Thing appears in but a single panel this issue, and I barely noticed. Alec is the star, the man without whom there wouldn't have been a muck monster, but a man we hardly know. His narration, and conversations with a colleague and Superman, show him to be a nice guy, an idealist, a genius with plants and  sharp enough to know that sometimes you have to take time for yourself.

By the end of this issue, that time appears to be up, as he can no longer escape his monstrous legacy.

Scott Snyder's script is absorbing, both in the eerie events presented and the characters experiencing them. He makes Alec compelling, while also giving a good showing to Superman, whom we're meeting properly in the new DC Universe for the first time here. In Justice League #1 he's a cocky sod, here he's the humble son of the soil raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent - highly appropriate for a Swamp Thing cameo. I know which presentation I prefer.

Snyder either knows a lot about flora, or he's done his homework, as Alec has the knowledge of a botanist, but wears it lightly. The plant facts presented aren't included to impress, they're serving the story, helping us see how Alec understands the world.

Bringing Snyder's script to life is Yanick Paquette, who immediately stakes a claim to be a first-rank Swamp Thing artist. Yes, there are echoes of the great Steve Bissette and John Totleben (the latter seems to have opened a motel, in one of several Easter eggs), and even the lush illustrative style of the underrated Tom Yeates, but the figurework, the way people move, the storytelling choices - they're pure Paquette.

Letterer John J Hill certainly seems to be homaging longtime Swamp Thing letterer John Costanza. He doesn't have to, as he's a superb craftsman in his own right, so perhaps he's feeling nostalgic. And colourist Nathan Fairbairn may be channelling the great Tatjana Wood, but it's just as likely that he simply shares her storytelling sensibilities - none of the creative team here has to emulate anyone to make good comics, but if they want to bring a classic Swampy style to their original stories, good luck to them.

All in all, this is a terrific first issue, bringing horror to the New DC Universe.

There's certainly one monstrosity in here that's going to be keeping me awake tonight ...

9 comments:

  1. This is the other comic I had preordered that'll I actually get this week. Real damn shame because everything I have been hearing is that it is awesome. Can't wait to finally read it.

    This month is the first time I ever started following comics and with such a line up of good material now and all at number 1, this is great.

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  2. Strangely enough, that Superman panel gave me an insight into a benefit of the new Superman costume. As Paquette draws it, anyway, it's both majestic and unfamiliar -- two qualities DC might be aiming at for him in this brand-new universe. Seeing him, I was caught off-guard in a way I actually might be if I saw Superman floating in front of me -- a feeling that the familiar tights were unlikely to provoke. Looking at him, I'm forced to ask, "Who is this man, really, and what does he want?" It's not a question I'd have asked of he Superman I knew, that's for sure.

    I'm still not crazy about the costume, but for the moment, the unfamiliarity has its own appeal to me. When was the last time I felt something new when looking at a picture of Superman?

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  3. I'm glad after the absolute disaster/abortion that BD aftermath was, that this title's off to such a great start.

    With Synder at the wheel, I don't think you have to worry to much about the ultimate fate of this book; now if Synder leaves and isn't replaced with someone as skilled, then you can safely countdown when the title gets axed.

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  4. This is a great review and great site. Would you help contribute to the dcnu guide?

    http://new.dcuwiki.net/w/Main_Page

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  5. That monstrosity would keep me awake at night too...maybe Superman should take it off. But then, he'd still keep me awake at night...

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  6. Great review.

    This wasn't my cup of tea probably because I am still in awe of Moore's work on Swamp Thing. To have Holland separate, human, etc ... seems completely wrong to me.

    The zombified men do look like the Invunche zombie the Brujeria used in Moore's American Gothic run.

    I had to check the art credits twice because Paquette's art looked so much like Kevin Nowlan.

    Anyways, not going to get more of this one unless I hear I should come back.

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  7. walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

    Regards,
    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

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  8. I loved it! I'm certainly impressed with the HORROR of this horror comic.

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  9. Great to hear you're enthused, InfoGeek, I hope the comics prove fun.

    Now that's an interesting perspective, Rob - you have me looking with new eyes (rather than my gut).

    I wonder who'd be a good replacement for Snyder. Mike Carey, maybe? Amthough given DC's fondness for mateyism, it'll likely be Kyle Higgins.

    Thanks Anon, but just keeping this site goig keeps me busy - but good luck, perhaps someone reading this can help?


    I dunno Karl, at least we'd see if he really IS more alien these days ...


    Anj, Anj, come back! Great call on the Invunche-alikes.

    You have a good 'un too, Mr L.

    It's good, isn't it ... as impressive as how prolific you've been at Heretical Jargon of late!

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