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Comic Book Review – Swamp Thing #1

By Mark Cormier

I’m a fan of Swamp Thing, the scientist turned plant-monster from the swamps. I was introduced to the character through Alan Moore’s award-winning 34-issue run of the series “Saga of the Swamp Thing” between 1984 and 1987, which reimagined Swamp Thing as a mystical plant elemental. I was thrilled to see that he was the “Chosen One” of Brightest Day, making him the avatar of the Life Entity. (does that mean that Geoff Johns’ entire War of Light saga was just an excuse to bring back Swamp Thing?). With the news of the new 52, I became anxious to see what kind of role he would play in the rebooted DC Universe.

Unlike some of the other first issues of the New 52 relaunch, Swamp Thing #1 isn’t a reboot. It actually picks up where Brightest Day left off, and it leaves much of Swamp Thing’s back story unchanged; everything from Len Wein, Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Mark Miller, Brian K. Vaughan and Andy Diggle remains intact.

Although this may seem daunting to newcomers, Snyder avoids the pitfall of dragging new readers through unfamiliar continuity. He focuses the story more on the man (Alec Holland) rather than on the monster (Swamp Thing). Recently resurrected and merged with Swamp Thing during the events of Brightest Day, Alec Holland only has vague memories of his life as Swamp Thing, like memories that are not really his own. Effectively, he is as much in the dark about his origins and backstory as new readers are. Not only that, but it also gives loyal fans a look at the man behind the monster, an expansion on the mythology with elements we’re not familiar with.

This isn’t just a tale of self-discovery, however. There is an equal balance between Super-Hero fantasy and Suspense Horror. The ominous threat in this issue is as mysterious as it is terrifying. The imagery of flies swarming into people’s brains and forcefully twisting their necks 180 degrees is quite disturbing, exactly as it should be in a book called “Swamp Thing”.

With guest appearances by Superman, Batman and Aquaman, “Swamp Thing” is rooting itself (pun intended) into the new DC Universe. This issue is especially a treat for Superman fans, since he actually makes a more extended guest appearance. It offers us our first full interaction with the new Man of Steel since the relaunch. Aside from the fact that he’s no longer wearing his underwear outside of his pants, his personality is actually quite consistent with the Post-Crisis version. The new issues of Action Comics and Superman notwithstanding, for now it’s reassuring to see that the Last Son of Krypton I grew up with is still recognizable.

This is my first experience with Scott Snyder’s writing, and I am pleased to say that he doesn’t disappoint. Each page is packed with dialogue and narration, and the style is definitely invoking Alan Moore’s more subtle nuances. Yanick Paquette’s artwork is both epic and haunting, a perfect combination for a penciller drawing a swamp monster. He has a definite knack for atmosphere and layout.

Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran to the Saga of the Swamp Thing, this issue is definitely worth your time and money.

Overall Grade: 9.5/10

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3 comments on “Comic Book Review – Swamp Thing #1

  1. I enjoyed your review. I’m not familiar with the Swamp thing comics, I only know him from the TV show and movies. However I think it’s good that they are spending time focusing on Alec Holland the man. That’s something both live-action versions failed to do, so you never got a sense of who he was, what he stood for, etc. I’m not too crazy about the way Superman was drawn here, that big jaw is a little awkward. And boy, I need to get used to that new costume with its Asian inspired collar. Since when did Superman have a collar? Oh well. And I can just imagine all the nasty critters and villains that Swamp Thing is gonna face, aside from the ho-hum evil land developers and water polluters. That fly proves it!

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  2. I’m glad you liked the review, Ginge. It’s always a pleasure to read your comments on my articles.

    If you want great stories about Swamp Thing, I cannot recommend Alan Moore’s series enough. It set the standard or Swamp Thing. Although in his run he focused on the monster more than the man, because he sort of technically never was a man to begin with (it’s complicated,) it was still about a monster who struggled to cope with what he was. His adventures were fantastic, too. He faced off against sorcerers, demons, vampires, aliens, travelled through space, the afterlife, etc.

    And make no mistake, Swamp Thing is first and foremost a monster (at least in the physical sense.) He wasn’t a human being who could hulk into the Swamp Thing; he was a human being who died and became something else. This series seems to separate the man from the monster. With Alec Holland brought back to life, for all intents and purpose we are basically introduced to a brand new character.

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  3. Hi Mark, thank you for the reply. I never realized that about Swamp Thing. I always assumed it was a hulk-like transformation that was permanent due to the chemicals he was working with. But that was probably just the movie and the TV show version. So I guess now it remains to be seen how this Alec Holland will become Swamp Thing again, or if he will be somewhat like Marvel’s Hulk and revert back and forth. I look forward to more reviews.

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