What’s the world to do when the birds and bats start dying in mid-air or when the fish are seemingly drowning in water? Well, let’s get Swamp Thing…wait…where is Swamp Thing? And, therein lies the problem that opens this reboot of Swamp Thing in DC’s New 52 initiative. The thing is, Doctor Alec Holland doesn’t want to be Swamp Thing. Long before he knew he was to be the chosen protector of the Green, Dr. Alec Holland was a botanist on the cusp of a developing a Bio-Restorative Formula. Yet, right before the big reveal of this product, there was a massive explosion in his lab, and before he died, he was able to drag himself to the swamp behind his house and immerse himself there, seemingly for rest of time. The Parliament of Trees, knowing that Swamp Thing must walk the Earth to protect the Green, used his humanity as a seed for a Swamp Thing that was kind of Alec, but kind of not. No one expected for Alec to actually come back to life and pull himself up out of that swamp, but that’s what he did, and now he carries with him the memories of that Swamp Thing. So, Alec has decided he just wants to be a construction worker; he really doesn’t want to be Swamp Thing, and that’s that. Dr. Holland is not changing his mind – not when Superman flies in to get him to change his mind, and not even when a “retired” Swamp Thing comes up out of the Parliament of Trees to convince him to come back. It isn’t until Abby Arcane , the white haired girl from his memories , comes into his life and then is taken away to fulfill her destiny as Queen of Sethe, the keeper of the Rot, does Dr. Alec need to decide one way or the other. Do nothing and everything dies. Do something and fulfill his destiny.
In this reboot of Swamp Thing, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy, readers are taken back to the very beginnings of the story to set the stage for Dr. Holland’s denial and decision whether or not to transform into the Keeper of the Green. The story, like other Scott Snyder penned stories, is engaging and fascinating. It’s a great story that’s fun to read and very well written.
But, really, it’s the illustrations that make this book so great. It’s illustrated in a different way than normal comic books – it’s not rigidly tied to the 6-8 panels per page setup. Illustrations and text boxes flow around individual pages as well as the 2 page spread that lends a more lyrical nature to the story and the drawings. The coloring at times seems almost psychedelic due to the extreme vividness and detailed drawings of otherworldly things. For a book where muting the coloring would be a detriment to the story, this book is bright and full of all the colors of the rainbow. The Green is beautiful; the Rot is, at times, quite terrifying, and the artists do a wonderful job of making something so intrinsic in the circle of life something to be feared and repulsed by. There is quite a bit of violence in the book due to the nature of the story – it’s the Rot fighting the Green and the Red, so it’s not out of place in a book about the wars of nature. At times, it can be hard to follow the action as it meanders around the pages, but the story is so wonderfully written and the illustrations so fascinating to look at, it’s an easy thing to overlook. The human characters, as well as the otherworldly beings that come up out of the Rot, are so intricately drawn that all of them have personality and character. This is a engaging horror comic that will draw in readers who are looking for a creepy read and even those who are unaccustomed to scarier stories. It’s a great story that truly brings the Swamp Thing to life.
Swamp Thing, Volume 1: Raise Them Bones
by Scott Snyder
Art by Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy
DC Comics, 2012