Swamp Thing: One of the Best and Most Underrated Books of the New 52
When the “Flashpoint” story-arc ended in August 2011, a few things happened. First, it put several of the Wildstorm and…
When the “Flashpoint” story-arc ended in August 2011, a few things happened. First, it put several of the Wildstorm and Vertigo brand characters into the main DC Universe. The next thing that happened was the highly successful launch of the New 52, DC’s attempt at gaining new readership by rebooting the entire DC universe. While titles like the “Justice League,” “Batman,” “Action Comics,” and “Green Lantern” often garner all the praise, I’m here to sing the praises of a less-talked about New 52 title: Swamp Thing.
Originally, I wasn’t going to pick up the title at all, but after being impressed by writer Scott Snyder’s work on the New 52 “Batman” title, decided to give it a try. I was somewhat familiar with the Swamp Thing based on the animated series I watched as a kid and the legendary Alan Moore Vertigo run. Swamp Thing had a few series during the 2000’s but none lived up to the Alan Moore run as far as acclaim or quality. The biggest story-arc Swamp Thing was really involved with was during the conclusion of the “Brightest Day” storyline, which lead to a three issue mini-series.
The New 52 Swamp Thing title aimed to go back to the horror roots of the character, and wow, did they ever deliver on that. The main antagonist of the book is Anton Arcane, the leader of what is known as The Rot. Much like Swamp Thing is powered by (and able to control) The Green (a life force that controls all of nature such as trees, plants and other leafy goodness), Arcane is powered by The Rot, things related to death such as disease, decay, and generally everything gross.
The Rot aspect is where most of the horror aspects in the book stem (no pun intended) from. Horrifying depictions of rotten flesh monsters, with backwards twisted heads, are the things nightmares are made of. These images are only made more horrific by the amount of detail artist Yanick Paquette (Batman, INC) puts into each drawing. The artwork in this book is fantastic. Not only is it one of my favorite of the New 52, but also in comics. One of the defining moments of horror comes in issue 3 where a character (who is a soldier of The Rot) is able to detect a tumor in a person, and then amplify it, leaving the person a mutated monster. The artwork is horrific, but gross never looked so good.
Writer Snyder is also able to make a seemingly impossible love story between Abby Arcane (niece of Anton) and Swamp Thing very plausible. It may seem silly when you hear “Swamp Thing” and “love story” in the same sentence, but Snyder makes it work. You really want them to work out in the end. Issue 0 of the series also added a very cool dynamic to the relationship that makes it work on a different level as well.
Swamp Thing is currently involved in a crossover story with the New 52 “Animal Man” title (another fantastic, and often overlooked, title) called “Rot World.” So far, it has lived up to expectations and provided very epic storytelling. In a comic world infested with many, many unnecessary crossovers, it’s refreshing to see one that not only makes sense, but is equally as awesome. I look forward to each new issue of the crossover as the twists don’t stop. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out, because right now, things are looking rough for ol’ Swampy.
Overall, Swamp Thing has a killer combo of one of DC’s best writers and best artists working on the book. While it may have seemed impossible to incorporate Swamp Thing back into main DC continuity, Snyder has been able to do it with relative ease. They’ve also been able to make a non-Vertigo book horror-centric and adult oriented, without going too far outside the standard DC guidelines. The first trade of the book is out now (Swamp Thing Vol 1: Raise Them Bones) with a second due out this Spring (Swamp Thing Vol. 2: Family Tree). Check it out, and find out what
I already know: That Swamp Thing is one of the best books out of the New 52!