Review by: Desaad

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Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

Swamp Thing 1:

Reading an issue of Scott Snyder’s work, it comes as no surprise that the man teaches a writing class at a prominent american university. His grasp of craft is flawless here, in regards to pure prose, and that’s sort of fitting given that it was a lyrical, prose like quality that defined (to me, at least) Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run.

The issue begins with what has, at this point, become a signature Snyder technique; an anecdote told about a character’s past that has metaphoric relevance to his present, or future. Here, it concerns flowers and steel, a reference to an upcoming meeting with Superman and Alec (Swamp Thing). It works on a number of levels, in that it gets us into the head and into the past of our protagonist (Holland), and it foreshadows not only the meeting, but the tone the meeting will take (adversarial, hostile, potentially dangerous to Alec). It’s masterful in its simplicity, in it’s economy. Par for the course with Snyder, though.

He does this a couple of times more throughout the issue, first likening wood rot to his own rebirth, then again describing the dark and dangerous nature of flora to Superman in an effort to get across the potential destruction at the hands of Swamp Thing.

It’s hard to really point to anything specific about this issue, except to say everything was done exceptionally well. The characters were all multifaceted and distinct, from Superman to Holland, the conversations were natural and terse and loaded with personality, the narration (described above) was beautiful and multilayered, the tone was consistent all the way through and extremely clear, the villain introduction was creepy and disturbing. The craft here is totally and completely unassailable, and the nods to Swamp Thing lore are fun and appreciated.

But where the issue fails to live up to, say, Action or Animal Man is that while everything is pitch perfect, there is nothing really NEW here. The status quo is more or less what you’d expect, and while all the touches and the actual execution is amazing, the plot and the progression follows the set up that you’d expect from the tale. The ideas, at least the ideas presented thus far, aren’t anything special as of yet. Again, well done, but by no means mind blowing. The characters are well executed and well portrayed, but not particularly endearing or sympathetic, not as yet. The villain is disturbing and creepy, but anyone familiar with Alan Moore’s run recognizes the (undoubtedly intentional) nods to the Brujiera and Anton Arcane (I suspect we all remember how he took over the body of Matt Cable, the form he was in). Perhaps those are misdirections – this new entity of Death ISN’T Arcane – and I certainly hope so, because if he is than we are already plodding some well trod ground.

The thing is, none of this is particularly surprising; Snyder’s made his name on his craft, not on the mindblowing originality of his ideas or new characters. And he maintains that reputation with this issue, because this is as good as anything he’s written in that regard. It’s not necessarily so forward thinking, but it’s an amazing piece of work in its own right, and I love it unabashedly for that. I didn’t feel as though I NEEDED to read the next issue the way i did with the dense, multi-layered Action, or the endearing Animal Man, but I sure as hell want to, and I know I’m going to be entertained. I feel like this series is one that is going to build in complexity and quality as we go, as we get further and further in. It happened on American Vampire as well, as the characters came more to the fore, as they were developed slowly but surely and this mythology began to spread out with great depth. This is one of the smartest comics of the new 52, maybe the smartest, and I look forward to reading more.

The artwork by Yanick Paquette is…well, it’s gorgeous. Lush, textured. Kevin Nolan doing interiors again, basically, and I couldn’t be happier with it. Characters are expressive, horrific imagery is horrifying, vegetation is intricate, character design is interesting. Maybe the best classical looking book of these first 13 issues, though I do prefer the more stylized Foreman for myself.

8.5/10 book. Pick it up.

Story: 1 - Poor
Art: 1 - Poor

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