Swamp Thing #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn
Having read that “It would prove nearly impossible not to compare this Swamp Thing to Alan Moore’s version” I can hardly agree. To compare the two is hardly fair on Scott Snyder’s take on the character – especially after only one issue! Moore’s work redefined Swamp Thing but this book looks set to take both Alec Holland and his unwitting creation in a completely different direction.
Snyder returns us to Alec Holland, post-Brightest Day, as a man trying to escape everything – to rediscover himself. It would be true to say that we already know much of Swamp Thing – born of Holland’s formula, the plant that believes itself to be a man with all of its creator’s memories – yet we know very little of Holland himself.
The book already hints that we may learn more about this character and his struggle to accept what has happened to him. He is constantly trying to escape The Green – the force that lives within the nature of all plant life, a connection that binds them all together – and it is a power that he fears. He observes to Superman how dangerous that force is and gives the Man of Steel his own take on how the struggle for survival is never more present than in the chlorophyll-filled world around us.
Without ruining anything, this book seeks out an incredibly shocking villain – one of the most bizarre and frightening images in the relaunch, in fact. If the bad guys keep reassuring you that “It’s okay…” then you know to prepare for the worst. And it is pretty grim. However, this is one of DC’s DARK titles and Swamp Thing looks set to cement its place there.
Snyder is mindful of what has gone before but his take on Holland is interesting. If you take the time to think about it, he reminds us of the potential of a relatively obscure and unexplored character in his own right. Crafting horror is his speciality – entertaining us in American Vampire – and Swamp Thing is no exception to that. He understands how to make the unknown unsettling and creepy while at the same time teasing us. It’s how the best horror movies work – we hide behind the sofa, or cushion, but still have to keep an eye on the TV to see what happens next.
The artwork is very clever. While most of the book is quite colorful, Paquette can take the most familiar (plants, grass, even flies) and draw them and contort them into a sinister force. The weirdness of the unknown villain is so odd that it almost makes your flesh crawl, especially when you see what it does to those it comes across… Fairbairn’s colors are also interesting. For a DARK title it is, essentially, quite a bright book when exploring the flora of Holland’s surroundings, but he mixes it up well when revealing our antagonist to us.
I enjoyed this book. It was a good start to what should hopefully be a fresh and exciting take on a cult character. I, for one, am intrigued with where Snyder will take us on Holland’s journey – maybe from man to plant or possibly something much more?