Looking a gift Swamp Thing in the mouth.

§ March 7th, 2016 § Filed under swamp thing § 7 Comments

Swamp Mark noted

“i don’t think you’ve said a word about the new Swampy series. which is a shame because Wein and Jones are knocking it out of the park!”

I thought I mentioned it at some point…probably it was on the Twitterers, where I said, after reading the first issue, that it didn’t really do anything for me until the antagonist shows up in the back half of the issue. The series as a whole so far, now that we’re at the half-way point, is…well, it’s okay, I think.

I have no beef with the art. If we can’t have Bernie Wrightson back, Kelley Jones is just dandy, giving us weird, goopy, and creepy illustrations as is befitting a Swamp Thing title. Jones, of course, has drawn Swamp Thing many times over the years, and he’s always welcome.

Swampy’s other creator, Len Wein, is back on writing chores, however, and…well, I don’t know. It’s fine, but…okay, this is mostly on me, I suppose, in that the original ’70s Swamp Thing comics still have a strong appeal, so expecting this new series to compete with my own nostalgic feelings for the older work is very unfair. You Can’t Go Home Again, is what I believe I’d said on Twitter, and that’s probably more aimed at me than it is at Wein. The tone of the scripting just doesn’t feel the same…and why should it, I guess. There is this thing with Swampy’s dialogue that seems out of character, with his talking about kicking something’s ass here, and this bit of business there:

…which doesn’t sound right to me.

I just paged through the most recent issue, #3, again since it happened to be sitting here, and like that first issue, the story didn’t really grab my attention until the latter part of the comic, which leaves on a cliffhanger that genuinely left me looking forward to its resolution.

But even that brought up an issue with me, which is one that’s probably out of Wein’s hands, and that’s the New 52 continuity. Again, this is an issue that bugs me, The Guy Who’s Read Swamp Thing Comics for Nearly Four Decades, and may not be a problem for someone coming to the character fresh, but there’s the big disconnect between what has come before, and the New 52 version of events. Given that we were reintroduced to the “plant that thought it was Alec Holland” version of Swamp Thing post-New 52, I was able to imagine that the adventures we read of that version of Swampy still existed, more or less, even with the changes to Arcane. But, with the return of a certain old supporting character in this issue, unless there’s a lot of weird backstory to be revealed, one of the classic Alan Moore stories from early in his run now appears to Never Have Happened. (It also futzes up a small bit of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, for that matter.)

I can sort of understand the decision…why remain committed to a piece of continuity from decades ago when you’re trying to do new comics for hopefully new readers who may, at best, only know the most basic information about the character’s concept? Not to mention the fact that, referring to those old events involving said supporting character, none of them were experienced by this version of Swamp Thing anyway, if you follow me. It’s not like the Alec Holland-version of Swamp Thing is suddenly going to shout “B-b-but you’re DEAD!” when as far as he knew, that character was just fine and dandy when he last saw him.

Ignore all that if there’s a big reveal in the next issue that this was all a trick and it isn’t really that supporting character but some old enemy in disguise or something.

Anyway, wrapping up…I like the series. The art’s great, and the writing’s tone is taking me a while to warm up to but it’s fine. The continuity issues are a thing, which undermines the proceedings a bit, but that’s because I’m old and read all that stuff so it’s still in my mind when I read this new stuff. But to paraphrase those brilliant philosophers, “it’s just a comic book, I should really just relax.”

EVEN SHORTER CONCLUSION: Mike, you got a new and reasonably good Swamp Thing comic written by its creator and drawn by a great artist — shut up, already.

7 Responses to “Looking a gift Swamp Thing in the mouth.”

  • swamp mark says:

    that’s what I’m talking about. an honest review, no matter how much the character is loved. well done

  • Caleb says:

    I’m nowhere near the Swamp Thing expert you are, and skipped most of the New 52 Swamp Thing stories, but I did find any and all use of slang in Swampy’s dialogue to seem really, really weird, including the ones you mentioned (Also, he should totally have just said “Meet…you…there…” and did that plant telportation thing).

    The bit with the supporting character drove me kind of nuts. The goal may be to ignore Moore’s Swamp Thing and Gaiman’s Sandman, but I’m pretty sure far more people have an will have read those than, like, just about anything DC publishes on a monthly basis these days. And that character’s status quo, if a reader mentally edits out the Vertigo and Alan Moore stuff, well, then the comic is asking you to forget the stuff that’s like 20-30 years old, but still be excited/interested in a character where he was left off…before that…? Is that right…?

    But whatever. I just like looking at the way Kelley Jones draws stuff, whatever it is.

  • Sadly, I haven’t read any Swamp Thing since around the time that Tefe got her own title.
    Before then, since the first post-Moore writers came on board, it seemed as if the thinking was; “If readers liked the 180 degree change that Alan gave, then sudden course changes are a sure bet”.

    I may be mis-remembering, but I think that was going on for awhile (ie: Alec waking up as a human, the whole monster thing a delusion).

    In any case, like Caleb, I think more casual readers will be aware of the Moore swampy stories than even the original origin.

    As for confusing continuity, MARVEL has been doing some weird bits too, having editorial boxes (remember those?) with references to not-just pre-Secret Wars continuity, but some old-school stuff as well. Sadly, I don’t recall the title in which I saw this. But combining THAT with the insistence of some sort of big missing continuity in the “missing eight months”AFTER SW, and it’s kind of a mess.

    And STILL there’s editorial confusion between titles that deal with the same areas (for instance, Weirdworld is a bit convoluted, but with its piecemeal nature, it’s probably not seen as problematic).

    I dunno. Not that I’m suggesting it, but what if comics are evolving to just take an old-school Archie -or The Simpson’s -approach to continuity? Whatever wacky shenanigans you introduce serves the story at hand, and then reboots to basics before the next (rebooted) volume?

    Sorry. I’m rambling off-topic (again).

    Hey, At least you get Kelly Jones drawing pretty pictures, so maybe just take that as a win.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “As for confusing continuity, MARVEL has been doing some weird bits too, having editorial boxes (remember those?) with references to not-just pre-Secret Wars continuity, but some old-school stuff as well. Sadly, I don’t recall the title in which I saw this.”

    The new Patsy Walker: Hellcat series has had editorial box pointers to both her 1970s appearances and her original 1940s-era title.

  • Thanks!
    I think there may be others (Weirdworld?) But Hellcat is DEFINITELY one.

  • Snark Shark says:

    I’ve liked Kelley Jones art before, but THAT looks like CRAP.

    and that dialog is certainly ill-fitting.

  • What a great looking comic, thanks for the article, I’ll be looking for this.