Review: Swamp Thing #2

Scott Snyder continues to be the man, deepening the already deep mythos of Alec Holland and The Green.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Swamp Thing #2

Swamp Thing #2 continues writer Scott Snyder’s drive to expand on the heroes that we think we know. His work with Batman has been tremendous, but the stuff he’s doing with Swamp Thing is unprecedented. Since the end of iconic author Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, other writers have added their own ideas to the legend but few have tried to develop it. Snyder’s storyline takes the entire breadth of the Swamp Thing mythos and brings it to another level. He expands on what we know, adds ideas we never thought of and actually manages to separate Alec Holland from Swamp Thing in a believable way that changes everything. In two issues, Snyder has done more to reinvent this legend than anyone since Moore.

The opening sets the scene for what’s to come. Snyder has the balls to begin Swamp Thing #2 with the origin of, well, Swamp Thing. It’s not Alec Holland, this is a pilot in 1942. A man whose connection to the Green has called out to him since birth, a connection so strong he became a pilot to get as far above the Green as he could. Shot down during a dogfight, his body is absorbed by the Green and Swamp Thing is born. Alex Holland’s connection to the green had made him next in line to be Swamp Thing, but the accident, the one we all thought created the creature, actually prevented Alex Holland from becoming the Swamp Thing he was supposed to be by killing him. The Green only received his consciousness, which is why the journey has been both of life and death for Holland.

See how this changes the game, how it reinvents everything we ever knew about Swamp Thing? Snyder has opened this world up without taking away anything that came before it. Few writers have the stones or the talent to pull that off. We learn about the Parliament of Trees, the deciding body that encompasses all the Green is and how it will affect Alec Holland. Snyder’s language is bold but he never gets too wordy, he also knows the timing of a story. Right when it feels heavy handed, we’re thrown into a hotel filled with dead people whose heads have been twisted all the way around attacking Holland. Just when you think it can’t get any better, Snyder drops a bomb on the last page that will have readers fiending for issue 3.

Yanick Paquette’s art is gorgeous here. Issue #2 feels more fully realized than #1, as if Paquette has gotten a rhythm and understanding for the story and knows exactly what needs to be shown. Every panel is rich in detail and great movement. Paquette’s style of layout is more of what I’d like to see in comics. There’s nothing straight ahead on the page, it’s more sections of a larger canvass we’re allowed to see a bit at a time. The overall effect is dazzling and it blends seamlessly with the world Snyder is creating.

There’s a definite connection between Swamp Thing and Animal Man outside of them being the two most interesting DC comics out right now. Both have master storytellers telling tales derived from nature, both series have art that does more than illustrate the words and both are creating a heightened sense of reality, one just to the left of normal. I hope these two characters cross paths one day, but more I hope that Snyder and Paquette and Animal Man’s Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman continue to put out bold and exciting comics that raise the bar of what can be done.