One of the joys of reading Swamp Thing is getting inside the head of a monster. He’s half man sure, but he’s also tethered to the world of plants in a way that makes him monstrous mentally and physically. The new series certainly makes him look monstrous on the cover, which made be a slight turn for the character moving forward. Question is, is it good?
Swamp Thing #1 (DC Comics)
Last we saw Swamp Thing he was involved in a chemical fire that sent him running into the swamp. This issue opens on Swamp Thing narrating what happened from there and where he stands with The Green.
Why does this book matter?
Scott Snyder’s run took Swamp Thing into new realms practically making Swamp Thing an angel of the environment. With it came a hierarchy and culture that was fleshed out and compelling introducing The Black and The Red. Since then though we haven’t heard much from the green monster and I’m not sure who isn’t interested to see where the character will be taken next.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Writer Len Wein quickly establishes that Swamp Thing is a bit more of a beast since we last saw him. Seeing Swamp Thing fight a crocodile, remain hidden from The Green and get described by a faceless narrator as beast-like in his very movement are obvious keys. He still talks and helps people, but he’s doing it in a reluctant and grumpy sort of way. This is basically the Swamp Thing of old who’d rather lay dormant.
Wein doesn’t stick with Swamp Thing muttering to himself and skulking around the swamp though and instead introduces a new villain and sets Swamp Thing on a mission of sorts. Wein does a good job setting up the villain with a fleshed out backstory that has a macabre feel.
The macabre feel extends to the art too with a nice sense of grotesqueness by Kelley Jones. Take for instance one scene where Swamp Thing forms himself from the ground. Instead of having him simply sprout up like a vine a gory sort of organ sprouts up and grows from there. It’s a delectably weird and gross way to introduce the character which helps make him appear organic but also horrific in nature.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m not really sure what is motivating Swamp Thing in this issue. It opens with him attempting to avoid communicating with his elders and people in general, but at the drop of a hat he’s off helping some people. He’s not all bad sure and saving some folks in the samp is one thing, but going off to solve a mystery of sorts seems out of left field here.
Is It Good?
The disturbing and reluctant hero is back as it delivers a great sense of the macabre.