Category: Comic Reviews
Written by Richelle Charkot
Published on Sunday, 11 May 2014 19:34
"Swamp Thing: Volume One" Trade Paperback Review
Written by Richelle Charkot
Published by DC Comics
Originally published as Swamp Thing #1-10, Vertigo Winter's Edge #3
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by Roger Peterson
2014, 240 pages
Trade Paperback released on January 14th, 2014
Following the life of Tefé Holland, the hot-headed teenage daughter of Swamp Thing and Abigail Arcane, this series takes the focus off of the big green protagonist and answers the question, "What would happen if you were stuck in between two worlds?" Tefé is half elemental, which is a spiritual anthropomorphic plant person, and half human, and has been burdened since youth at this great divide. Since childhood, her father has taught her that she must help him to save "The Green," which is being destroyed by humankind's thoughtlessness towards the environment. As she grows older and submerges herself into "The Green," she finds that other elementals have grown resentful and angry of their treatment in the world, and some have aims of destroying mankind before it destroys them.
Swamp Thing and Abigail become increasingly worried of their daughter's relentless power and anger towards humans and call upon their old ally, the supernatural man, Constantine, to help them. Constantine explains that in order to suppress the urges that she has been experiencing from "The Green," they must transform her into a different human and try to erase all of her prior memories. The three then find Mary Conway, a teenager who is dying in the hospital. They allow Mary to slip into her demise and transform Tefé into the brown-haired young woman with all of the normalcy that high school can possibly provide. Although the plan works for several years, it eventually crumbles because of Tefé's powerful anger which brings her back to what she was before. The subsequent stories in this graphic novel follow her struggles to discover who she is, who she must save, and all while trying to forgive her parents for what felt like abandonment.
The series, although titled Swamp Thing, barely features the creature whatsoever, which I found fairly disappointing, although I did enjoy most of what happens in Tefé's travels. She is hardened by the fact that several beings keep trying to destroy her before she destroys them, but there are some stories in this set where it seems unrealistic even for a comic book. One story in particular follows a man who is a fisherman and writer who has been working with Tefé on a boat which catches crustaceans. He is first painted as relatively harmless, just devoted to writing 'the Great American Novel,' but he very quickly turns and falls directly into criminal lunacy, which struck me as one of the many instances where the intensity of the situation rises far too quickly and doesn't flow well.
The illustrations are not my favourite of the franchise thus far, but there are faint moments where they resemble the gritty, horrific style of Stephen Bissette, the artist during most of Alan Moore's run on the series. Something else that is off putting for me was trying to differentiate between Tefé and Abigail. Both with flowing white hair and slim figures, there isn't a lot to distinguish between the two in regards to age; instead they both look to be in the mid-twenties range. I often forgot that Tefé isn't an adult but instead a very confused teenager, which is a fairly important point to her story.
Vaughan's Swamp Thing is definitely worth reading for fans of the franchise, but for newcomers I would recommend starting in its earlier incarnations. This graphic novel is enjoyable enough that I will definitely be reading forward, but it is somewhat lackluster in compared to Wein or Moore's work with the swampy monster. Although it isn't my favourite, I am still interested to see what will happen if Tefé finally reunites with her parents, and if the relentless force within her can be extinguished.
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