Review: Swamp Thing #3-6Posted: February 5, 2012 Filed under: review | Tags: comics, DC, fantasy, horror, Marco Rudy, mystery, Scott Snyder, superheroes, Swamp Thing, The New 52, US, Victor Ibáñez, Yanick Paquette 4 Comments
Authors: Scott Snyder (writer), Yanick Paquette/Marco Rudy/various (artist)
Previously in Swamp Thing: Alec Holland is the Swamp Thing, the Knight of the Green… or is he? Scott Snyder doesn’t really answer that question, in what I assume is an attempt to both pay tribute to and at the same time break away from Swamp Thing’s backstory.
Issue #3 shifts the main focus to a new character, a hospitalized boy named William who becomes the first villain of the series. Things get more creepy from here on. In the Alec Holland storyline, we see him using his power to manipulate plants for the first time, and there’s a nice one-page flashback to happier times for Swamp Thing and his lover Abigail (i.e. a tribute to the earlier series). Although only Snyder and Yanick Paquette are credited on the cover, more than half of this issue is actually drawn by Victor Ibáñez (!), which could be the reason why I liked the art a little bit better than in the first two issues.
In issue #4, Marco Rudy suddenly takes over as penciller, and there are three different inkers now. These changes in the art team are highly irritating, but in itself the art isn’t bad. There’s some more nasty horror in William’s storyline, whereas Alec learns about the epic and mystical background of the Swamp Thing.
Paquette returns as penciller and inker in issue #5, and now I remember what I like about him: his inking is really striking. While I don’t care much for his heavy crosshatching, his outlines, which can be up to about 3mm thick in a close-up, are daring. A third storyline about an evil scientist/occultist in the Amazon Jungle is introduced here, and Alec Holland shows off some more of his Swamp Thing powers in a battle against William.
The artist carousel revolves once more and brings us Marco Rudy again as the penciller and inker for issue #6. I’m not saying Rudy is a worse (or better) artist than Paquette, but I wish they’d let me get used to either of them. Apart from that, this is the darkest, most atmospheric and probably best issue of the series so far.
Luckily, Snyder quickly did away with the idea of connecting Swamp Thing to the rest of the DC Universe (that Superman appearance in the first issue was truly awkward) and now pursues a distinct mystery/horror/fantasy tone. If only DC could resolve the artist trouble, this could be a really good comic. (The next two issues are announced with Paquette as artist, so let’s hope they stick to him.)
Rating: ● ● ● ○ ○
While we are well rid of Superman, these issues are very strongly intertwined with the concurrent Animal Man series. In fact, AM practically reads like a ST with animals instead of plants now, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
By the way, did the issues seem short to you? They run the full 21 pages, but for each of the last few episodes, it seems the plot can be pretty much summed up in half a sentence each. I feel they’re wasting space rather than truly doing something interesting with the art…
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As I understand it, the actual crossover “event” with Animal Man hasn’t started yet, and Swamp Thing is still self-contained (in the sense that you don’t need to read Animal Man, or any other comic, to follow the story). So this sort of connection between the two series seems like a nice touch (rather than the commercial strategy it actually is, of course): you don’t have to collect both series, but you are “rewarded” if you do.
The issues are in fact only 20 pages long, but that’s not the point. My guess is that the perception of episode length is primarily determined by the page layouts, which are a far cry from traditional 3×3 grids: after all, there simply aren’t a lot of panels per issue. Another factor is the constant jumping between parallel storylines and flashbacks, with the result that the main storyline seems to unfold very slowly. However, I’m fine with that: the authors create a dense atmosphere and stunning imagery, and in the end that’s more important (to me, at least) than a gripping plot.
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