In Review: Swamp Thing #1

Horror and heroics are alive and well in this Swamp Thing.

The covers: The Main cover is by Kelley Jones and Chris Sotomayor. It shows the title character standing before a full moon with the silhouette of the forest behind him as he stands in some tall grass. His body is fantastically grotesque, with oversized arms attached to an extra wide torso. He looks incredible — both cool and creepy. The coloring is also good with the forest being a splotchy red, the moon a pale violet, the Swamp Thing a frosty emerald, and the logo purple, surrounded in yellow and orange. The color scheme makes the art jump off the cover. The Variant cover is by Yanick Paquette and has the muck monster battling one of the natural predators of the swamp, and previews what occurs on Pages 3 – 5. It’s a good action shot which establishes the hero in his environment. Good coloring on this one, too. Overall grades: Main A and Variant A-

The story: Lein Wein is back writing the character he created with Bernie Wrightson. “The Dead Don’t Sleep” begins with an introduction to the swamp, a quick four panel summary of Swamp Thing’s origin, and then shows his strength as the battles something that was in the wrong place. Wein has ST get what would normally be a severe injury at the top of Page 4, but in the two panels that follow readers see one of his unnatural abilities. His strength is then shown, as is another ability, this time in panels two and three on 5. This is how I expected the story to begin, with a demonstration the origin and a display of what he’s capable of. What I did not expect was the individual who appears on 6 – 8. You had my money, DC, with Wein writing this book, but to include this character — Whom did I give more money to? This character is the right choice to appear in this book and dangle a bit of knowledge before the title character. With this individual gone, the Swamp Thing encounters two people in the bayou and it is the problem that they introduce him to do that sets the book off on in a different direction and location. I like the story the couple tell the hero, which could have been a story on its own if DC had its other horror titles active. The antagonist appears fully on Page 15 and he’s a good foe for ST. I’ve read the original Swamp Thing stories many times, but even I was surprised by the ending of this book. Okay, Mr. Wein, that’s a new one! I have to buy the next issue to see how Wein writes himself out of this corner. Overall grade: A

The art: After the two issues of Convergence Swamp Thing last year, I was hoping that Kelley Jones would be allowed another turn at Alec Holland’s new identity. I’m so glad that he’s back because his work is magnificent on this book. The first page’s movement through the swamp is a spectacular way to show off his skills at creating a realistic setting, only to have it end with the Swamp Thing standing silently. The first panel on Page 2 is handsomely horrific with its focus on his eyes. The quick origin is also terrifying to look at, with poor Holland making his infamous run off the dock. Page 3 is a full page splash with ST taking on an animal. Just on size alone, one would expect him to rip the creature apart, but his battle is not that easy with the reptile. Jones has a great flair for the strange, which is shown in the second and third panels on 4. The second full page splash is the arrival of the other classic DC character and he is stunning — the swamp has gone supernatural with his presence. Swamp Thing’s arrival on 16 in panels four and five captures an impossible sense of motion, yet makes it completely believable for this book. The villain gets the final splash on 17 and he’s sensational, caught as he turns, his coat flaying out behind him. The last two panels of the book are amazing. I’m so glad Jones is on this book. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: The colors on this book are equally fantastic. Michelle Madsen has the massive task of inserting every color of green possible onto the character, the creatures, and animals of a swamp. One would think this would be a green blob of a book, but she does a superb job in placing greens side by side, yet allowing each element to be seen clearly by the reader. This is especially evident on Page 3, with the logo, Swamp Thing, the animal, and a sound being green, but different enough from the other to make this a stand out coloring job. Page 2 is great for the focus Madsen puts on the eyes, and the colors are slightly brought up for the flashback sequence. The narration and Swamp Thing’s speech balloons also get their own unique colors, giving a visual clue to the reader as to where the text originates. An outstanding job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, the “Created by”, story title, story credits, sounds, and the tease for next issue all spring to life from Rob Leigh. Normally I’m not happy with books when the font is not differentiated, but the shape of the dialogue balloons is used instead, but I can overlook that because this book so resembles an original Swamp Thing issue; so it makes me feel like this is set “back in the day.” The sounds are top notch, with the pair on 16 awesome. Overall grade: A

The final line: Horror and heroics are alive and well in this Swamp Thing. It has the feel of an issue from the 1970s, though it’s entirely new. A must-own book. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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