Swamp Thing #1 is a great re-introduction of the classic character and firmly establishes itself as a horror book set firmly in the DCnU. The book begins with nature suddenly going haywire, as across the world animals are dying. Superman notices this as Clark Kent and immediately decides he should catch up with Alec Holland, the man who died years before and became the Swamp Thing.
Alec Holland finds himself in an interesting dilemma as after being resurrected in Brightest Day, he now has his human body back, but all of the memories of the Swamp Thing, a life he does not feel connected to as he did not technically “live” it, as Swamp Thing was plant life mimicking Allec Holland and not really him. The Swamp Thing is something Alec Holland is not part of anymore…or so he thinks.
A good portion of the issue is spent with Alec Holland and Superman talking, discussing the nature of plant life and Holland’s adjustments to coming back to the land of the living. This was a bit of non-action that I was not expecting for the first issue. However, horror is lurking elsewhere that threatens to disrupt Holland’s life further and possibly put the world at risk. While I don’t want to go into the nature of the threat, it is definitely creepy. It’s reminiscent of early Vertigo in that way, and I love it. It also sets the stage for Holland’s life to be entwined with the Swamp Thing once again.
Yanick Paquette’s art does a fantastic job rendering the scenes with Superman where his Kryptonian armor looks sleek and natural. Allec Holland looks appropriately shabby; a man trying to disappear. Paquette has clearly done some research into plant life too, as there are vibrant and highly detailed plants and vegetation. The animal drawings are realistic and show an attention to detail rarely seen in comic books (see the unrealistic looking birds on the cover of Hawk and Dove #1). Page layouts depicting horror scenes are angular and packed with tension, the very layout of the page contributing to the effect. Paquette has the ability to draw both the real and bizarre worlds found within the realm of Swamp Thing. The art in the books this week is hit or miss, but Swamp Thing #1 is undoubtedly a hit.
Scott Snyder nails it a great job writing a super hero script with a disturbing undertone, with the characters coming alive with some great dialog. While the story does set up things for new adventures, I felt like I was at a slight disadvantage for not reading Brightest Day or its aftermath The Search for Swamp Thing. Readers not familiar with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run may also be scratching their heads as to why Allec Holland and Swamp Thing are not necessarily the same person. However, these issues are not unduly cumbersome for new readers to overcome. The plot and cliffhanger are overall intriguing enough to merit buying the second issue, if not putting Swamp Thing on your pull list outright.
Swamp Thing #1 is a pretty good first issue of a highly anticipated series. While the first issue had a little less action than I was expecting, it fills in what is happening with Alec Holland since he has been resurrected and bridges that to the horrific adventures that lay ahead for him. It also ends in a way that has me definitely wanting to get #2. There’s a great deal of potential for the months ahead, and Swamp Thing #1 gets you on the ground floor of all the creepiness. Don’t miss it!