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Swamp Thing Vol. 6 #1 by DC Comics has hit the shelves and our very own Sam McCoy is here with our ComiConverse review.
Legendary creator Len Wein returns to the character he created 44 years ago, in House of Secrets #92, to continue the tale of the Swamp Thing. A lot of creators have come and gone in that time, including such comic luminaries as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan and more recently Scott Snyder and all have left their imprint on the book. While Wein doesn’t attempt to dismiss what has come since his original time with Swamp Thing and Alec Holland, but this definitely feels like a Swamp Thing tale from a bygone age.
Swamp Thing hasn’t had a solo book for a few months, with the last time being a two-part tie-in to the dreadful DC event Convergence. Unlike that main book, Swamp Thing was one of the better tie-in books.
This six issue miniseries reunites writer Len Wein and artist Kelley Jones from that two-parter.
This book starts with an extended sequence of Swamp Thing asserting his dominion of the swamp over an alligator. After Swamp Thing releases the alligator back into the murky waters, the Phantom Stranger comes to question why Swamp Thing continues to be restless, despite becoming the avatar of the Green. The Phantom Stranger also states he is there to offer a warning, but they are interrupted by the sounds of a man falling into the bog.
Swamp Thing saves the man, and returns the man safely to his wife. This couple, Frank and Grace Wormwood, are looking for their son Lazlo. Swamp Thing learns what has become of Lazlo. While in college Lazlo volunteered for an experiment that was examining death and resurrection. Unfortunately for Lazlo, his resurrection didn’t go perfectly and he has been turned into a monster, neither live nor dead. Now Lazlo stalks the college campus where he met his demise. Swamp Thing confronts Lazlo and attempts to bring Lazlo back to his family, but an angry Lazlo is able to rip Swamp Thing in two.
Gothic. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I was reading this comic. This is a comic that definitely fits back in the style of the original Swamp Thing run with Wein and Bernie Wrightson. Focusing more on the gothic horror that would define that book, especially through the early parts of the Alan Moore run. This is the right tone for what Wein is wanting to write and a tone that is perfect for Swamp Thing.
Unfortunately, where the tone was spot on, the dialog and plot of this book were definitely lacking. The dialog can be pretty clunky at times, in particular the sequence where Swamp Thing is fighting the alligator in the beginning. That scene causes a few issues with the comic, as it is a little long – five pages to be exact. Five pages for a fight between the Avatar of the Green and a mere alligator, but on top of that Swamp Thing is talking the whole time to the alligator – surprisingly the alligator has no reply.
The sequence with the Phantom Stranger seems to be used as a device to address the events of the last Swamp Thing series; namely the battle over being the Avatar of the Green. It doesn’t offer a whole lot more other than being an easy way to transition to the new story of Swamp Thing saving Frank Wormwood and then learning about Lazlo troubles.
The use of a mad scientist and the resurrection experiment is a staple of Gothic horror and it would have been nice to see a little more of Professor Crisp, before seeing his demise at the hands of Lazlo. I have strong suspicions we haven’t seen the last of him even, though we have seen his head separate from his body.
Like I said. Gothic.
Lazlo as the villain is a tricky one. He seems so much like the pre-New 52 Solomon Grundy that I wonder if this character was created solely because the New 52 version of Grundy is so different.
Despite being the Avatar of the Green, it appears this Swamp Thing isn’t the strongest creature, as he both struggles with an alligator and does in fact get ripped in two by Lazlo. Of course with the powers of the Green, Swamp Thing will be healed in no time, but it seemed like a pretty standard kind of ending for the issue.
While the plotting is sparse and the dialog a little dated, the art is what can easily hide some of these flaws. Kelley Jones delivers pages just dripping with the gothic atmosphere this book is cultivating. Jones knows how to draw creepy and grotesque looking monsters. Even his Phantom Stranger is just off-putting and ethereal.
The first issue of this new miniseries is a definite throwback to the days when Swamp Thing was rooted more in the gothic horror genre. If you are looking for more of a retro Swamp Thing tale with great looking monsters than this is the book for you.
Sam McCoy is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @realcactussam
A throwback to the days when Swamp Thing was rooted more in the gothic horror genre.