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'Swamp Thing: Green Hell' #1 review: And Hell followed with him
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‘Swamp Thing: Green Hell’ #1 review: And Hell followed with him

Swamp Thing brings the end of days in this new Black Label epic.

In Swamp Thing: Green Hell, the climate crisis has reached a critical point. Humanity has dwindled to a series of encampments. The world is dying, driven to a state so dire that even the Rot is running out of things to feed upon. Staring down the end times, the elemental Parliaments agree to speed up the process, to create a new Swamp Thing who will rid the world of the human infection.

As a fan of Swamp Thing for roughly half my life, believe me when I say that I am being fed right now. Between Ram V/Mike Perkins’ exceptional series following the latest Swamp Thing and Jeff Lemire/Doug Mahnke’s new tale of a world on the brink, anyone who loves this character is having a banner a year.

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Right from the jump, it’s clear that Mahnke is 100% the right illustrator for this job. He renders these coastal shanty towns in a way that makes them seem quaint and nigh-impossible. This is a story about human resilience, and that idea is etched in every surface and interaction. The people are rail-thin but seemingly full of will. Everyone’s body language is timid, but with a forward momentum that only comes from years of beating the odds and only trusting a select few. There’s a palpable warmth between those who are close and an almost physical revulsion from those whom they distrust. During one intimidating encounter with a crew of bandits at the start of the story, you can almost feel the characters’ skins crawling, their very body language screaming that they want out of this nightmare.

Dave Baron bathes these sequences in golden sunsets, showing one of the few beauties that remain on this dusty and dying world. Everything feels aged, used and reused; it’s no wonder everything is falling apart. However, Baron also makes some vibrant color choices throughout, showing that there is still some life left in this dying world. Each of the Parliaments are given their own distinct color palette and nightmarish designs, bringing to mind some of the more out-there imagery from Lemire’s Animal Man run in the New 52 era.

DC First Look: Swamp Thing Green Hell #1
DC Comics

Mahnke and Baron also create some truly gruesome images together, particularly during a sequence in which we see the new Swamp Thing go to work for the first time. Like something out of an old pirate fable, the beast rises from the briny deep, the water cascading down its body like a ceremonial robe. When the Swamp Thing’s rampage begins, its some of the wildest gore I’ve seen in a DC Comic. This is what it looks like when the avatar of the Green is unconcerned with collateral damage, and it’s truly terrifying. Steve Wands works in some exceptional sound effects here, which add to the visceral feeling of the action scene. When the SFX look like they hurt, it makes every action stand out that much more.

Yes, the red stuff flows freely in this story, but one of the more upsetting aspects of the tale involves something that feels all too familiar: the lies we tell each other when faced with annihilation. Donald keeps telling his daughter that things are going to be okay, that the world has a future, that everyone is capable of good at the end of all things. He seems to be fighting against mankind’s very nature at every step of the way, to the point where it’s hard to tell what he truly believes. As we learn towards the close of this first issue, sometimes the only way to combat the apocalypse is to let the devil in. I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that the late reveal in this first issue had me pumping my fist in the air.

But now, the question becomes: what are they going to do if they manage to stop the Green? Is there even anything worth saving when every human being is living on borrowed time and they’re still turning on one another? Is it better to burn out than to fade away? Swamp Thing: Green Hell seems extremely interested in exploring these points, and I’m very interested to see where this story leads.

'Swamp Thing: Green Hell' #1 review: And Hell followed with him
‘Swamp Thing: Green Hell’ #1 review: And Hell followed with him
Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1
'Swamp Thing: Green Hell' explores another story of how the forces of nature respond to the end of the world, but does so in unexpected ways. This is a harrowing story of greed, corruption, and even love at the end of all things. Longtime fans of Swamp Thing owe it to themselves to give this a read.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The character work and world-building here is strong, giving readers a firm grasp of what's at stake
Has some genuine surprises in store for fans of Swamp Thing's long history
The artwork is phenomenal, mixing horror imagery and bright colors in unorthodox ways that perfectly suit the tone of the story
10
Fantastic

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