Thursday, September 08, 2011

Review: Swamp Thing #1

Some horror tales open with a big bang, giving you an ample taste or the horrors yet to come. Others open innocently, letting you build up a slow sense of dread as you wait for everything to come crashing down. The first issue of Swamp Thing does a little bit of both, taking you from a simple childhood story into a nightmarish world in a single page. As you transition from Yanick Paquette's beautifully drawn Metropolis architecture to a gruesome collection of dead animals, you can almost hear the flowers Scott Snyder describes as screaming.

The entire issue seems to flash back and forth like this, going from snapshots of what seems like a normal world to something much more sinister. It's an incredibly effective way of keeping the reader on age, and it made some of the comics bigger scares all the more terrifying. The art goes from ordinary page layouts to off-kilter compositions, panels separated by jagged black lines. Even the colors seem to transition from light and sunny to something darker.

Scattered throughout the issue are surprisingly frightening facts about plant life. They help to sell Alec Holland as a botanist and to show us that the world we'll be dealing with is darker than we might have expected. It reminded me a little of the 1954 horror film them, which pits the human race against incredibly vicious giant ants. If the plants of the world are so violent towards each other, what will they do to us?

Superman's presence in the issue was a distraction from my growing sense of unease. This scene was a little exposition heavy, but it made clear that what came before was by no means forgotten, and Snyder writes a great Superman. Yanick Paquette does a better job than even Jim Lee with the new costume, and I'd suggest sticking him on Justice League if it wouldn't mean losing him on this book.

And while things may seem a little less scary when Superman's around, the issue plunges back into horror territory and into one of the most terrifying scenes I've seen in a comic since Alan Moore's original Swamp Thing run. I don't want to spoil the moment for anyone who has yet to read the issue, but the scene felt so real that I could actually hear what was happening, and I can't get those awful sounds out of my head.

Having the book focus on Alec Holland the man rather than Swamp Thing himself was a wise choice. Much of Swamp Thing has focused on the character being a plant who remembers being a man, and this issue turns that concept on its head, framing Alec as a man who remembers being a plant. This was a great comic taken alone, but the potential for future stories is even greater, and I hope Snyder and Paquette get to keep telling them for a long time.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who's up for reading a genuinely creepy comic. Reading Action Comics filled me with joy, but this issue got under my skin, and left me thinking about it as I tried to fall asleep. From the stunning artwork to Snyder's masterful prose, DC has set the bar high for all horror comics with this one.

By Marceline with 3 comments


Another great review. Like you said, Swamp Thing gets under your skin. . . leaves you thinking.

I really appreciated how the Superman cameo was handled. I'm new to DC (was a Marvel kid, and have been an "indy only" adult), so I'm admittedly biased against caped heroes. But the way Snyder handled that dialogue. . . it was great! In fact, it made me read (and adore) the new Action Comics #1. DCnU's mission: accomplished.

I completely agree. Both on the fact that this is a fantastic review and on how Superman was handled. I've always felt Superman was better as a supporting role. I loved Action Comics when it was about Luthor, I love Green Arrow books where he just shows up, it's fun. He's like...a God. It makes his character more impressive if he just does something and ducks out like a summon in Final Fantasy. I'm very excited to read the book now that I've read this. Thank you.

Just read through all of these and got caught up to date all in one night. this comic is brilliant

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