I’ve been a fan of Swamp Thing since I was about 10 years old when I first got my hands on some hand-me-down copies of Alan Moore’s ‘Saga of Swamp Thing’. Sure. As a kid, I had no grasp of Moore’s themes but the stories creeped me out. There is one scene featuring the series’ villain Anton Arcane in Hell, his flesh bloated and filled with flies, that has stuck with me to this day. As a fan of superheroes and horror comics, I fell fast in love with the swamp elemental that thought it was a man.
When DC announced that writer Scott Snyder was handling the ‘Swamp Thing’ relaunch, I thought it would be a perfect storm. Snyder’s stint on ‘Detective Comics’ was one of the coolest and creepiest stories I’ve read in comics in a long while. So did he Snyder justice to one of my favorite DC Comics characters? Yes. Yes! A thousand times yes! Snyder’s writing, combined with the thick detailed art of Yanick Paquette, evokes a feeling that reminds me of the horror comics of the late ‘70s and it’s perfect for this series.
I have never agreed with DC’s decision to remove Swamp Thing from the regular DC Universe and into the Vertigo line. So, when he reappeared in the finale of ‘Brightest Day’, I nearly jumped from my seat in my elation. When they resurrected Alec Holland, the man who bound Swamp Thing to his humanity, I wasn’t sure what to make of it or where DC was going with it. Now we know. Snyder’s opening run is all about Holland trying to come to grips with having been tied to The Green (the force of all plant life in nature), his subsequent resurrection, and where he fits within the new DCU.
[Warning: there are spoilers in the murky depths below.]
Snyder posted the opening few pages of ‘Swamp Thing’ to his Twitter account last week. The images showed Superman, Batman, and Aquaman watching as animals around the globe just dropped dead. Now, Snyder has laid Holland’s inner dialog over the images and they make for one of the most gripping opening scenes of DC’s New 52. Holland, once a botanist, has taken a job in construction to help distance himself from his past and to allow himself time to think. He’s paid a visit by Superman who is just checking in to see how he’s holding up. Holland tells Superman that he appreciates the visit but that he wants to stay off the grid for a while.
Meanwhile, at an archeological site in Arizona, a group of archeologists come face to face with a powerful force that is able to take form out of dead and decayed parts. I suspect that this creature has something to do with the dead animals from the opening scene. And, maybe I’m reading too much into it but, since the creature is surrounded by a swarm of hideous bloated flies, I get the feeling that this has something to do with Anton Arcane . When we last heard from Arcane, he had been transformed into a demon and was still in Hell.
Back at Holland’s hotel room, which includes a fan nod to one of ‘Saga of Swamp Thing’s most famous artists, Holland is having a nightmare about the day that he died and became the Swamp Thing. He awakes to a room filled with plants. Thinking that it is The Green come to collect the biorestorative serum that originally helped to bring the Swamp Thing to life, Holland resolves to destroy his invention. He races to the swamp to toss it in and be rid of it forever. But, before he can destroy the serum, Holland comes face to face with his alter ego.
What a great start to a new ‘Swamp Thing’ series! Will The Green reclaim its link to humanity? What Hellish force was unleashed in the Arizona desert? What does all this mean for Alec Holland? Be back here next month for my review of ‘Swamp Thing’ #2.
SWAMP THING #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE