NEW 52 REVIEW: Swamp Thing #1

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Few other titles in the existence of modern comics can tout the A-list pedigree that Swamp Thing has enjoyed: Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison.  Now industry wunderkind Scott Snyder is ready to try his hand at the rebooted creature from the swamp. How does he fare? You know the drill…take the jump for details!

SWAMP THING #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: John J. Hill
Price: $2.99
Publisher: DC Comics

Previously: Alec Holland has found himself once again, among the living. Just how long he’s been ‘deceased’ is subject to speculation. Alan Moore established that Holland had ‘died’ during the initial birthing of the Swamp Thing creature. The creature simply housed Holland’s essence, although his actual mortal coil had been shed. To be more specific, burnt to a crisp and then submerged in the murky swamp water. Swamp Thing originated in the standard DC Universe, co-existing in a somewhat awkward co-habitation agreement with all of our favorite DC characters.  Once Moore’s success at mature storytelling was cemented, a new imprint was created to represent these emerging dark stories. You may have heard of it…Vertigo.

Big Blue Comes a’ Knockin’

Now Holland is alive and planted back in the DC Universe.  Superman would like to have a word with him regarding some mysterious ‘natural disturbances’ taking place across the globe.

Holland’s history is in botany. That’s where he pursued his life’s work, the experimental compound which eventually transformed his essence into Swamp Thing. While Holland is unwilling to traverse the same path that eventually led to his ‘death,’ his ties to the world of vegetation are not completely severed. He still has a close affinity with his environment and is able to sense vegetative minutia, such as near-microscopic cases of wood rot in planks of building lumber.

As a matter of fact, building materials are just symptomatic of Holland’s new vocation of choice; construction laborer. Despite his unwillingness to face his past, it doesn’t take long for someone like Superman to track down his location in order to get his take on a string of unexplained, nature-derived anomalies happening all over the planet. Although characterized in brief glimpses, we see Aquaman bearing witness to a lot of dead fish, Batman dealing with dying bats in his cave, and Superman watching the Metropolis sky filled with expired birds.

Superman confronts Alec with facts surrounding these instances of ‘phenomena,’ yet Holland’s science-fortified defensive mechanisms provide a strong testimonial against his brand of expertise in this situation. Superman attempts to bond with Holland, commiserating over the trauma of coming back from the dead. This would seem to confirm that the Death of Superman storyline still transpired in this new DCU. After everything’s said and done, Holland spins some creative allegories and ultimately asks to be left alone.

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

Strange things are definitely afoot, and by the end of this first issue, it appears that destiny has a strong opinion when it comes to Holland’s involvement in helping to address these happenings.

Snyder does an admirable job of helping the reader understand the nature of Swamp Thing’s core. Holland is harboring a lot of angst and most of his characterization in this issue amounts to a lot of whining. This is Swamp Thing with very little action and a lot of internalization. Having said that, internal monologues and metaphor are nothing new for Swamp Thing readers. Perhaps with time the depth thought will blossom, but so far, there are only a few pages worthy of its pedigree.

Artist Yanick Pacquette’s visuals are best suited to the supernatural elements of the book. All of the dark and twisted stuff looks gorgeous, while his figure work is just standard. By involving the rest of the DCU in the world of Swamp Thing, I fear that superheroes will be making regular appearances in the book, which doesn’t appear to play to Paquette’s strengths as an artist.

Bottom Line: Worth Checking Out, But It’s Pretty Angsty

If there’s anyone who’s earned a shot at Swamp Thing, it’s Scott Snyder. He’s proven himself time and again as a gifted storyteller. I hope that Swamp Thing’s reintroduction into the regular DC Universe does not hobble Synder’s creative palate. This issue did a reasonable job at bringing Alec Holland back to the land of the living and it appears that his adversary is going to be epic. Swamp Thing #1 earns 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆