Review:Swamp Thing #0

Published on September 11th, 2012

There are different ways to look at DC’s New 52 reboot but I’m not interested in talking about that. I like comics, so with the new 52 it gave me an opportunity to read about characters I like, and read about other characters that had interested me. Having come off of Scott Snyder’s brilliant Detective Comics run I was willing to try anything from him so when I heard that he was writing Swamp Thing, my ears perked up, I was looking forward to reading that comic. This past year Snyder and company have been telling some of the most gruesome horror stories with beautiful stomach turning art. I was actually surprised with what mainstream DC comics got away with because some of the stories depicted some pretty effed up ess.

 Now we come to the #0s. The #0s celebrate the one year anniversary of the New 52. The purpose of these #0 issues was to pull back the curtain and show us how the characters came into the situation that they started out in their debut issues.  At the same time they also serve as great jumping on points for anyone who hasn’t been reading the comic.

The comic starts off with a girl walking through a bitter cold forest looking for warmth but she almost dies until she is saved by a Swamp Thing and nurtured back to health. At this point I would like to point out the elegance of Snyder’s writing. It’s haunting and beautiful but at the same time it can turn at the drop of a hat to menacing, threatening, and downright scary. As the girl is fully healed and awake the Swamp Thing tells her that she is safe from the cold. The girl tells the Swamp Thing that he doesn’t understand, that she never wants the cold to end, and that’s when the Swamp Thing realizes who the girl really is and we turn the page to see Arcane ripping out of the girls flesh. And I think I’m being kind when I say ripping. The way fingers slip out underneath skin, the bulging of the tongue and eyes and the splitting of the scalp, it is all very detailed and I can help but think what nightmares Snyder has and what poor Kano did to get picked to draw these monstrosities. Needless to say, the combination of writing and art is very complimentary and builds on fear than just trying to gross out the reader.

The rest of the issue focuses on Arcane and all the terrible deeds he does in the name of The Rot.  All the killing he’s done against The Green and The Red.  But mostly telling about how he goes out of his way to kill avatars of the Red and Green before they are even called for their purpose. It actually reads like we’re looking into the mind of a serial killer, the line about him keeping ribs from each one of his kills and how he took it makes it seem like a trophy for the kill, which is a characteristic of some serial killers. The issue also shows Arcane infiltrating Alec Holland’s (Our current Swamp Thing) science study so that he can kill him.  In the process of finding Alec to kill him, Arcane murders Alec’s wife and takes on her skin and ends with her/Arcane blowing up the lab where Alec was recording notes. Alec comes out of the lab on fire suffering from chemical burns and falling into the swamp as Arcane teases the Parliament of Trees that they won’t be able to save Alec and that they’ve lost.

Cut to five years later and we see a fully healed hand reaching out of the swamp. I have praised Scott Snyder’s writing talents here but I must also talk about Kano’s art. It’s beautiful and dare I say some of his best. I love the way that he draws the lines to separate panels as plant cells, human cells, vines, fire, the stitching of human flesh, and snow adding to the unique look of the book. Also adding that sense of horror is the coloring done by Matthew Wilson. I like it when comics have a distinct look and since this is a horror comic it has to have a look that makes the reader know that as soon as you open the book the colors give you a feeling of what kind of story you’ll be getting. I just also love the way he depicted fire and the burning flesh of Alec.

After this issue we will be jumping into the crossover that has been teased since the start of the book and with DC’s other great horror comic in Animal Man. This story will take us through the end of the year on both books and I very much look forward to entering Rotworld.

Antonio P. Cuneo
Antonio@ComicImpact.com