Thursday, September 29, 2011

Swamp Thing #1

Cover by Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

Swamp Thing #1 (September 7, 2011)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Yanick Paquette
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: John J. Hill

For some reason, I have foggy memories of my dad talking about Swamp Thing a lot when I was a very young child. I don’t know why, because he never read the comics and if he saw the 1982 film, it never made an impression of him because he hasn’t mentioned it in recent memory.

I think we used to watch the 1990s television series together. At the very least, I recall seeing the commercials for it on the Sci Fi Channel and being intrigued by it, probably because I had managed, based only on my dad and the commercials, to equate Swamp Thing as a sort of Frankenstein’s monster and therefore felt incredibly sorry for poor Swamp Thing. When I heard this character was going to be included in the DC re-launch, the little part of me that is still a six-year-old Frankenstein and SciFi Channel fan woke up and got excited.

I know literally nothing about Swamp Thing, however. I know he lives in a swamp and he seems to constantly be pining for a beautiful woman in a Beauty and the Beast sort of way. But maybe I made that up. I don’t know his history or his real name. I’ve never read Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing comics, which I suppose I should rectify. 

So I went into this comic completely unbiased and rather curious. It took some time for me, based on Snyder’s innuendos and backstory hints, to gather enough information to understand the plot of this issue. Though I did not know who Alec Holland was or why he apparently “died” and returned to life, I was able to pin together a sketch of the general theme of this comic and where it plans to go.

While Swamp Thing #1 certainly didn’t blow me away, my interest has definitely been piqued and I’m extremely curious to see how the character will evolve without falling into kitschy 1970s comic character territory. I don’t think Snyder will do this, as he crafted a rather grim and surprisingly eerie comic. There was violence that I was definitely not expecting and though it was not gory per se, it was quite unsettling. A scene in the desert featuring three scientists discovering the destruction of their latest archeological dig was particularly creepy and cringe inducing. I liked it. The art by Paquette was instrumental in inducing this unnerving feel to the comic. While the penciling was very clear, the coloring by Fairbairn was very lush and awash in stark, bleeding hues, which certainly went along with the general themes of the comic.

I was also struck by Snyder’s portrayal of the natural world as violent and dangerous. Maybe it’s my own predisposition to get nervous whenever I’m in area with a distinct lack of pavement, but I always enjoy texts that depict the so-called dark side of nature. It’s a cliché present in everything from horror films to Shakespeare’s plays but I love it and Snyder did an excellent job in playing on this trope. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue and to see where Snyder takes us and poor Swamp Thing.

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