Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Kelley Jones
Release Date: 2nd March, 2016
The first couple of issues of DC’s latest Swamp Thing series, while visually stunning, felt more than a little flat from a storyline point of view, with a fairly uninspired ‘monster of the week’-esque approach. While the old-school vibe of the series and the renewed focus on the horror aspects the character were definitely welcome changes, the whole thing felt a little underwhelming given the epic, high-stakes approach of the previous New 52 series. Thankfully however, this latest issue sees Len Wein and Kelley Jones finally starting to deliver on some of the near-limitless potential their creative partnership offers, giving the series some much needed focus as it surges forwards.
The catalyst for this change is the return of Matt Cable, who tracks down Swamp Thing with a rather intriguing proposition. Cable’s reintroduction does a fantastic job of nudging the series back to its more mystical, supernatural roots, and the recapping of his history brings some of the epic scale that the series had previously been missing. Wein handles the exposition smoothly, giving new readers a chance to get to know Cable without slowing things down too much for long-time fans who are already familiar with the character’s history.
The inclusion of Zatanna is also handled impressively, with Wein delivering some captivating back-and-forth between her and Alec, providing a much-needed counterpoint to the latter’s gung-ho approach to Cable’s proposition. The stakes are laid out clearly, and while it’s almost a foregone conclusion – at issue three of a six-part series – that things won’t necessarily go as planned, the final page cliffhanger is still truly shocking in its execution.
Once again however, it is artist Kelley Jones who really pushes this series to a whole new level with his absolute mastery of light and shadow and his hulking, monstrous Swamp Thing. He also does a fine job here of capturing the emotions of the characters, from Zatanna’s obvious reluctance to her guest’s plan to the sadness in Swamp Thing’s eyes as he steadfastly dismisses her concerns. He also channels a little old-school ‘B-Movie’ horror in the opening pages with an exchange that sees Swamp Thing grappling with a monstrous boa constrictor in tense game of one-upmanship.
Overall, it’s reassuring to see this series finally building some storyline momentum, as well as capturing some of the epic scale that the first two issues were sorely lacking. While some aspects of the story are a still little underdeveloped for the time being – Sheriff Fox’s investigation into the whole Lazlo Wormwood situation in the Bayou, for instance – the main thrust is truly gripping, and as I mentioned before, the series still looks absolutely stunning courtesy of Jones’ sublime visuals. As a Swamp Thing fan, I’d honestly be happy to have any book featuring my favourite character on the shelves every month, but with two creative juggernauts like Wein and Jones at the helm, I have the feeling that this mini-series is on the verge of turning into something truly special. Next month can’t come soon enough.
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If you want to find out more about Swamp Thing, make sure to check out our interview with series artist Kelley Jones by CLICKING HERE.