Why I stopped reading Swamp Thing

Review of Swamp Thing #7-12

detail from a panel by Francesco Francavilla

Previously in Swamp Thing: by the time I wrote my last review, Alec Holland was about to turn into the Swamp Thing, and the series was about to get really good.

Language: English
Authors: Scott Snyder (writer – plus Jeff Lemire in #12), Yanick Paquette/Marco Rudy/various (artist)
Publisher: DC
Pages: 20
Price: $2.99
Website: http://www.dccomics.com/comics/swamp-thing-2011

Back in issue #7, the series still seemed to be going in the right direction. With the help of the Parliament of Trees and his “bio-restorative formula”, Alec Holland is finally transformed and emerges from a giant cabbage as the Swamp Thing. The artwork by Yanick Paquette leaves little to be desired.

In issue #8, however, Paquette shares artist duties with Marco Rudy, depicting the clash of Swamp Thing and the army of the Rot. (For an insightful critique of that concept, see Iann Robinson’s review of #12.)

This pattern is repeated in issue #9: the first 8 pages are drawn by Paquette, the remaining 12 by Rudy. This constant back-and-forth between those two artists is annoying, but at this point, their styles had grown so similar that I almost didn’t mind anymore. A lot of mystical, epic fighting takes place in this comic book.

With issue #10, a completely different artist, Francesco Francavilla, takes over (including the colouring). While Francavilla is by no means a bad artist, his style is such a far cry from Paquette’s and Rudy’s that one cannot help but notice the difference and wonder why.

Especially since in issue #11, Rudy is back as the artist. What was Paquette doing in those 2 1/2 months when he apparently wasn’t drawing Swamp Thing? In fact, the next Swamp Thing issue with Paquette as artist will be #13, which is scheduled for October. I couldn’t find a statement from DC that explained what makes this merry-go-round of artists necessary. Apart from being irritating for the reader, I can’t imagine Eisner and Harvey award-winning writer Scott Snyder is fond of constantly working with fill-in collaborators. This situation is telling about DC’s attitude towards its authors.

The last straw came in issue #12 with the start of the dreaded Animal Man crossover story (“Rotworld”). In fact, this issue is part two of a two-part “prologue” to said storyline, the first part being Animal Man #12. Crossovers that require you to read every single tie-in issue to keep up with what’s going on are a clumsy attempt increase the sales of each involved series, and it doesn’t work with me. I have tried to get into Animal Man before, but didn’t like Steve Pugh’s art, so I don’t feel like picking it up now. Neither am I interested in seeing other characters from the DC universe make guest appearances in Swamp Thing (which will happen in issue #13).

So I won’t be reading Swamp Thing anymore. By means of crossover mania and artist roulette (which DC intends to keep spinning), DC has killed a strong series. Still, it was worth reading for most of its first year, both as a DC universe comic that does without (regular) superheroes, as well as for the intricate ways in which it refers to the pre-relaunch era. Thus the first trade paperback, collecting #1-7 and coming out this month, might be of general interest. For me, however, there are more interesting comic books being published by DC at the moment – more on those in later posts.

Rating: ● ● ○ ○ ○

5 Comments on “Why I stopped reading Swamp Thing”

  1. steve says:

    yeah, but for me, Yanick Paquette is probably the most impressive, artist i’ve seen this decade, his work is beautifully observed, decoratively considered, and genuinely affecting. and by inking himself doing twice the work of your average penciler .doing that kind of thing in mainstream comics is amazingly difficult. 20 pages every 25 days, even working 15 hours a day that’s only 3 or so hours a panel, and almost no lead time. take a look at comics from 15 years ago and see the difference in workload todays market demands of creators

  2. Martin de la Iglesia says:

    See, that’s the problem: who exactly demands that workload? I certainly don’t. I wouldn’t mind waiting for another month if the artist can’t make it in one month. But the publisher demands a constant stream of revenue, so DC tries to stick to the monthly schedule by all means, even if that’s detrimental to the consistency of the comic book. In my opinion, that’s just a greedy and selfish business strategy, and not what the readers want. At least not this one.

  3. steve pugh says:

    my friend the industry does. diamond distribution does (probably more powerful than any of the publishers) the printers do (a few days late can cost tens of thousands of dollars) and actually, the vast majority of the readers want their comics to arrive the same time every month, and are pretty angry if they don’t. i think your mistake is looking at monthly mainstream comics as though they should be a show case of excellence, when in fact they are a relentless factory turning out x number of comics every month. nothing has enough time spent on it, no one gets the chance to give their work the polish they’d want, AND YET- month after month truly wonderful comics appear, because editors artists and writers missed sleep, cancelled holidays and got in trouble with their girlfriends to wrestle the very best they can out of 25 days. the comic HAS to be delivered, our only choice is how good we can make it for you.

  4. […] It’s not that I’ve never read a crossover story before, but when I did, it was always after it had been collected into trade paperbacks. This allowed me to make a conscious decision to buy the TPBs. However, it’s quite a different thing when a comic book series you’ve subscribed to becomes part of a crossover. Do you really want to purchase additional comic books, from series you don’t care about, by creators you’re not interested in, just to be able to grasp the story in “your” series? In the past, my answer was no – for instance, I dropped Swamp Thing when the “Rotworld” crossover started. […]

  5. […] I’ve written in my previous reviews of this series, Scott Snyder doesn’t make it clear right away whether or not protagonist Alec […]

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