"Swamp Thing #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by DC Comics
Written by Len Wein
Illustrated by Kelley Jones
2016, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on January 6th, 2016
Once a man named Alec Holland, now he rises from the murky depths to defend plant life as Earth's avatar of The Green as Swamp Thing. In a routine romp through the swamp, the creature finds a couple in need of some help. Their son was the victim of some bizarre experiments at the local college and now his body is missing...and it might have walked out on its own.
Swamp Thing has had some pretty stellar runs, most notably from Alan Moore and most recently from Scott Snyder. Len Wein, the co-creator of the character, is writing this tale with art from Kelley Jones. What's immediately apparent is the most light-hearted approach to Swamp Thing. He comes across as a more jovial version of the Hulk, barreling through the swamp, wrestling an alligator, and basically having as good a time as a big talking plant can have. When he encounters the Phantom Stranger boding some mysterious warnings, he cracks jokes.
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Jones' artwork has a lot to do with this. The character design definitely gives off that Hulk vibe. He's a little top heavy with huge, muscular arms. It's almost like those of a gorilla. The scene where he fights the alligator is pretty cool, although rather silly. It shows Swamp Thing's strength and his reluctance to kill, even when something is ready to literally bite his head off. Swamp Thing's face appears ever-changing. At times it's like a beard made of moss and others are like roots spawning from a large tree. These monstrous details hide a pair of kind eyes.
There's a strange segment towards the end of this issue where Swamp Thing seems to materialize out of thin air. He first appears as an eye, some ribs, and a handful of internal organs. The following panel has most of his head and upper body forming. This is a cool effect, but it’s unclear as to the purpose. Was he just trying to make a spooky entrance?
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The issue builds up to a battle between Swamp Thing and a force of the undead. It's a knock-down-drag-out brawl between these two monsters as they beat the living crap out of each other. The final page appears shocking at first, but then you'll remember a scene earlier on and realize that it doesn't carry anything in the way of shock or surprise. You know exactly how Swamp Thing is going to get out of the bind that he finds himself in.
As a big fan of the previously mentioned incarnations of Swamp Thing, I'm curious as to where this one is going. It's not nearly as dense as those, instead going in the complete opposite direction, going light on overall content. Swamp Thing runs around, fights an alligator, talks to some people, and fights a zombie. He's not doing these things because the ancient force of The Green is asking him to. He's doing them because it's either fun or it's the right thing to do...or a little of both.
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