"Swamp Thing Winter Special" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by DC Comics
Written by Tom King and Len Wein
Illustrated by Jason Fabok and Kelly Jones
Colored by Brad Anderson and Michelle Madsen
2018, 92 Pages, $7.99
Comic released on February 7th, 2018
Swamp Thing is associated with plants and assorted foliage. He thrives on it and uses it to travel and heal himself. This makes the setting of the Swamp Thing Winter Special all the more harrowing, as the creature once known as Alec Holland is trudging through a blizzard without a spec of green in sight. He's doing this for a noble cause, helping a young boy escape from a snow monster that is hot on their heels. Time is running out as Swamp Thing's powers are draining. Can he stay alive long enough to get the boy to safety? And what is this snow monster that's pursuing them?
This story takes up the first half of the Swamp Thing Winter Special and it is a powerful one. Writer Tom King and artist Jason Fabok craft a compelling tale that pulls on the heartstrings. All Swamp Thing wants to do is save this kid and everything in the world is working against him. He can't remember the battles he's fought or how this all started. He gives of his own body to keep the child warm and fed. He just keeps going as he starts to wither away.
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Fabok's artwork feels larger than life, showing the Swamp Thing as a massive creature lumbering through a white screen of snow. You can see how he becomes weaker over time as his body starts to shrivel up. He starts out as this strong monster and by the end is little more than a walking green skeleton. It's heartbreaking to see what he's going through to save this boy.
Throughout it all, the kid is urging him on, regaling Swamp Thing with the tales of how he bravely fought the snow monster. His blue eyes pierce through the snow and cut right into your heart. Colorist Brad Anderson did a tremendous job here. Swamp Thing is the one beacon of hope and life that's slowly making its way through the snowstorm.
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This unlikely duo is met with some tough decisions as the journey gets harder and harder. This results in some absolutely gut-wrenching scenes that could very well bring a tear to your eye. You can see how it's tearing up Swamp Thing too, so at least you're not alone. He may look like a monster, but there's still the soul of a man in there. All he wants is to keep this boy safe and despite everything he can do, he keeps failing.
There's a twist at the end of the story that hits just as strongly as every page before it. This is one helluva comic and it should be up there as a testament to the kind of incredible storytelling this medium is capable of. You don't need to know anything about Swamp Thing coming into the book either. You can jump right into this.
This opening story is dedicated to the creators of Swamp Thing, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, both of whom passed away last year. The second half of this oversized issue contains one of the last stories Wein created for Swamp Thing for a new mini-series launch. The completed artwork by Kelly Jones and colorist Michelle Madsen is presented without lettering. It's followed by Wein's actual script. Even without text, it is an interesting comic to read through and it's a nice addition to this book. It's unfortunate that we won't see this play out, but it's a great tribute to the late, great Wein and his amazing work.