In Review: Swamp Thing #5

A creepy trek involving several of DC's iconic supernatural characters.

The cover: Swamp Thing leers down gleefully at the three people he’s torturing. The man on the right is Alec Holland. Yes, that Alec Holland. He’s the Swamp Thing, or he used to be until he allowed FBI Agent Matt Cable to take over the identity of Swamp Thing so that he could be a human being. The first thing Matt did as Swamp Thing was bury Alec. This cover by Kelley Jones and Chris Sotomayor is the perfect introduction to “Emerald Apocalypse!” Terrific frightening image of Swamp Thing and the colors radiate off the page with the sicking greens and the hot pink background to highlight them. Overall grade: A+

The story: Relishing in his new abilities, Swamp Thing, aka Matt Cable, is running rampant through Houma, Louisiana. With a camera crew nearby he has them begin a live broadcast of his demands: “…effective immediately, you will surrender complete control of the planet’s police forces–and turn them over to the plants to run–or there will be consequences!” He shows the world what his consequences are by doing damage to the Coliseum, Eiffel Tower, and Pentagon. Delighted by his actions, his only regret is that Alec Holland isn’t there to see his victory. Holland is in the Green where he is contacted by the Parliament of Trees who take him to task for what he’s done. They want him to change the situation quickly because the Apocalypse is coming. Then something unexpected happens to the buried man. Len Wein has Alec escape his doom from last issue with the help of an iconic character. This character delivers him somewhere where he encounters an equally iconic character. Alec gains access to an artifact and knows that it will somehow allow him to become Swamp Thing once again. While this is occurring, the forces of Earth try to figure out what to do, seeing as how the Justice League and the Teen Titans are unavailable. The final famous face that appears had me clapping in glee, and that’s what happens with all the famous faces that appear. Given that Swamp Thing is a supernatural character it’s great to see other supernatural characters appear, each giving advice and warnings to Alec on his quest. Why can’t all of DC’s supernatural books be this fun? Overall grade: A+

The art: Kelley Jones is the perfect artist to be illustrating this book. He’s made Batman his own character for the longest time and it’s fantastic to see him turning his attentions to the Green. The opening page is a fantastic splash of the horrendous form of the Swamp Thing towering over the city like a behemoth. As he raves before the camera he has the personality of any power mad dictator that’s existed in comics or the real world. I especially like the third panel on Page 3 with him placing his hands toward the viewers at home as he works his evil Juju. The Parliament of Trees would seem like a welcoming force at this point in Alec’s life, but the second panel on Page 5 makes their meeting horrific. The cape on the individual that rescues Alec rivals that of the Dark Knight. In fact, I’ve not seen this character look so incredible since Mike Mignola illustrated him decades ago. The next iconic figure that Alec meets is drawn very differently from how I’ve seen him rendered before; the absence of all features save this character’s eyes and mouth makes him incredibly sinister looking. Page 18 has the introduction of the final famous face in a full paged splash and it’s magnificent. The first panel on 19 is Gothic personified. Every page of Kelley Jones’s work oozes with dark magic. Absolutely delicious! Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: The colors on this book by Michelle Madsen look incredible. The book starts with dark colors to match the darkness exuding from the title character. The narration is nicely set apart from the ghastly proceedings by pink narration boxes. A turn of the page and Swamp Thing’s green become a darker shade to match his new personality, but the backgrounds behind him explodes with yellows and oranges to punctuate his proclamations. The Parliament of Trees sequence uses lighter greens giving them a supernatural feel. The individual that appears on 9 has his typical bright costume, however the flesh of this individual is given a very different, more haunting color. For such a dark hero in such a dark situation, the pages shine with colors. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, the story title (Outstanding!), the issue’s credits, yells, and next issue’s tease are created by Rob Leigh. The scene settings provide dramatic transitions before the visuals are looked upon and the supernatural characters’ dialogue is written in an effective italicized font, though each is truly differentiated from the other by the shape of the their dialogue balloons. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A creepy trek involving several of DC’s iconic supernatural characters. A satisfying read with superior visuals. Overall grade: A

To learn more about Swamp Thing and other DC Comics go to http://www.dccomics.com/

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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