Swamp Thing #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn
So I would like to get this out of the way first thing. I really don’t know anything about Swamp Thing. I’ve seen the movies and some of the episodes of the tv show when I was younger. I have never read the Alan Moore issues. The only real exposure I have had to him was when he showed up in an issue of Hellblazer for John Constantine’s birthday party and the recent Brightest Day storyline. I didn’t even get the Search for Swamp Thing mini that came out after that. By this point you may be asking yourself why did I pick up this particular issue from DC’s all new 52. It’s really kind of easy. I can sum it up in two words. Scott Snyder. Ever since I picked up American Vampire which he started out just co-writing with Stephen King I automatically liked his style of writing. It just seemed to me he got how to write horror for comic books. I wasn’t sure how good American Vampire was going to be after King left but to be honest it just got better. Then I start getting Snyder’s Detective Comics run. Amazing…just purely on all levels amazing. With all the stuff that was going on in the Batuniverse at the time here was this perfect noir storyline. James Jr. became one of the creepiest characters I have read in a very long time. The question kept coming up “Is he or isn’t a complete psychopath?”. By the end of the run we had our answer and by this time I was hooked on Snyder.
Which brings me back to Swamp Thing. By the time the solicits came out for the new 52 I spotted Scott Snyder’s name on two titles. Well after his Detective run of course I was going to get the Batman ongoing but then I spotted that he was doing Swamp Thing as well. Now as I said I have never read the Moore stuff but I have read about it. It was considered kind of a horror comic by alot of people so I think to myself Snyder writing what might be another horror type comic…yep put it on my pull list. So let’s get to what this is supposed to be which is a review of Swamp Thing #1. Oh and this will be full of spoilers so stop now if you have not read it.
We start off with some inner monlogue of who I automatically assume is Alec Holland. The monologue is how when he was young his father was a florist and owned a shop that was beneath their apartment. As the dialogue goes on the 1st shots are of Metropolis’s skyline and a very familiar looking man wearing glasses in the Daily Planet building. Something grabs his attention and he looks out the window while the two characters with him show signs of surprise and fear. The next two pages show birds falling out of the sky dead. We also see a familiar looking cave where there are dead bats all over the place. Then a bit of a surprise we get a shot of Aquaman underwater with…you guessed it all kinds of dead fish. So we have Clark, Batman, and Aquaman witnessing this and they all seem to be pressing their fingers to their ears or head. My guess is they are communicating with each other discussing the mass dying of all this animal life. During this our narrator discusses the sound of his father stemming machine and the noise it makes and how his father tells him the sound are the flowers screaming as their stems were cut.
So after that double page splash we are told we are in Louisiana. We see a blond man in a hard hat at a construction site for a house. The inner monologue now says how he is older now and he knows his father was telling the truth because plants can scream and that they are screaming for him all the time. So off panel someone yells for this character who is of course Alec Holland. At this point we get to see a co-worker of his named Paul talking about how Alec told him to put some cabbage on his bum knee and asking how he knew that by doing that it would help with the pain. Alec pretty much blows him off and tells him to go home.
Now we cut to a scene at a dig site and what looks to be a full skeleton of what we do find out a little later is a mastodon. The wind seems to be picking up and starts tearing the whole dig site apart. There are bones blowing everywhere along with a wheel barrow and what looks to be some more dead animals. They all seem to be getting sucked up into a giant tornado complete with lightning shooting down into the top of the funnel.
Now we shoot back to Alec inspecting some two by fours and explaining why wood really rots. Here is where we finally get some mention of the back story of Alec that all sounds like the original origin of him becoming Swamp Thing. This is where I start to get confused a bit. So Alec knows he was dead and he woke up 6 weeks ago in a swamp. He says he was himself again but has memories of being a monster. Ok so is this Alec after Brightest Day kind of since he was brought back? I have no clue by the way.
So next we have Superman show up to have a little bit of a chat with our main character. We find out that Alec stopped going to his lab and kind of went off the grid. Superman wants to talk about the occurences with all the dead animals and Alec explains how nature has a morbid way of sometimes just doing stuff like that. A key line for me from Alec is he says he’s not Swamp Thing and he never was. So I am guessing this kind of does go back to Brightest day where his actual body got revived and there was a reveal that he never really was Swamp Thing and that it was just the swamp entity taking on some of his memories and characteristics. Forgive me if I am off with this because I wasn’t that big of a fan of Brightest Day. Superman also has a line telling Alec he is checking up on him because he knows how hard it is at coming back. Does this mean that our “new” Superman was once dead as well? This is where the issue starts to lose me. Alec talks about going back to the lab and working on the formula, of finishing a batch of it, and more stuff he kind of remembers about being Swamp Thing. Now just a page or 2 ago he said he never was Swamp Thing. Superman gives him some advice and then we get to hear how the plant world is one of the most violent worlds ever. So I never took horticulture but that really was kind of interesting.
Ok so here is when it finally starts to get creepy. We are now back at the dig site where the skeleton of the mastodon was. There are a couple people discussing how they think that someone that worked for them sold them out and stole the bones. They are all sitting around throwing blame and wondering what happened when they hear a noise close by. The more vocal of the three goes chasing after the noise thinking it is whoever stole the bones. We get a shot of a giant red beast with wings, bones, and a head that is swarming with flys. For some odd reason Mr. Cowboy Hat tries to tell this thing he is a scientist. This personally is not what I would do in this situation. I have seen way too many horror movies to know just run the other way when a moment like this arises.
So now for the really messed up stuff. Mr. Cowboy Hat has a fly go into his ear. He looks to be in some pain and then starts complaining about his neck. He then proceeds to to either try to stop what is about to happen or he actually snaps his own neck until his head is basically on backwards. I LOVE this stuff. So now his other two partners are running away (finally) while he chases after them with a knife. The other two people end up also getting the dreaded backwards turning head fly in their ears and like I said I can’t tell if they are trying to stop their necks from going all Excorcist or are doing it to themselves. The last panel of this gruesome scene has all three following the giant beast with a line that says “It’s all just starting”.
So after that nice little part we see Alec having some nightmares about what I do recognize as how he may have became Swamp Thing. He wakes up in his room and is surrounded by flowers, roots, and plants. He’s not very happy. He then goes to a safe and gets what appears to be his formula and goes running out into the parking lot. As he yells “What do you want from me?! This? You want this?” and is about to throw the formula into the swamp we see a little word bubble. It says “Dr. Holland. I wouldn’t so that if I were you”. Enter Swamp Thing with some roots growing out of him stopping Alec from throwing the formula.
Let me now talk about the art by Yanick Paquette. I am more of a story guy so I don’t usually look at artists when deciding to buy a book. The art for the most part was very well done I really liked the cover. Paquette is able to draw some great facial expressions and the detail of some of the pages is really good. The one thing I didn’t like was how you couldn’t really tell what the monster was but I’m guessing this is build up for a bigger reveal later.
So there you have the 1st issue of DC’s new Swamp Thing title. I think it was good set up although a bit confusing at times for me. The beginning was a bit of a slow build but Snyder did have to introduce new readers like myself to Alec Holland so it’s understandable. I think I would give this a 6 out of 10. It would have got much higher if not for me not being sure if they are working in Brightest Day. See everyone next month for issue #2.