Review: Swamp Thing #1

In July 1971 I was mere -10 years old; gestating somewhere in the ether between my parents’ minds and loins. Len Wein was co-creating an iconic comic book character with Bernie Wrightson. Shit’s cray. Well, a meager 45 years later, Len has the creator’s privilege of rebooting Swamp Thing with a new six-issue mini-series from DC. The story certainly captures the spirit of the traditional Swamp Thing tales, but don’t let that lull you into thinking this is only a trip down Nostalgia Ave. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that one of Swamp Thing’s creators has a special feel for the character.  Wein pulling the Phantom Stranger out for a quick ‘hi how are ya?’ isn’t by accident and it raises some fun and interesting questions (to those in the know) about where this story could be headed.  BRIEF KNOW IT ALL DISCLAIMER: Phantom Stranger is supposedly omniscient, yet the only demonstrated black spots in his mind relate to the origins of Swamp Thing…

Swamp Thing #1 2016Swamp Thing is a (literal) hulking figure on the page.  Just as importantly, the bayou itself manages to be its own character lurking in the background.  Kelley Jones’ heavy shadows and character proportions fit so well with a traditional Swamp Thing horror story.  I feel like the nature of the Swamp Thing himself successfully promotes artistic diversity; the whole book manages to feel like a contemporary version of classic Swamp Thing.

Despite being a co-creator and helping define Swamp Thing from his origin, Len Wein isn’t the most well-known writer for his own character.  I only bring this up to highlight what a complex and wonderful character Swamp Thing is in the right hands; how the character seems to mold himself into the little nooks and crannies that differentiate writers who know what they are doing.  And Len knows what he’s doing.

This is still a throwback story and can be a little heavy on the narrative in spots, but it does manage to stir some significant interest about the Swamp Thing himself.  I’m going to treat Swamp Thing #1 like a successful re-introduction to that one cool and interesting girl you used to flirt with in High School but nothing ever happened; it’s been years since you’ve seen each other and you both look different but there’s something that tells you whatever you had isn’t dead yet.

Score: 4/5

Swamp Thing #1 Writer: Len Wein Artist: Kelley Jones Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 1/6/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital