Friday, January 8, 2016

Swamp Thing #1

I recently mentioned that "The Anatomy Lesson" was when the Swamp Thing finally became interesting and relevant. So it's a shame that Alan Moore isn't writing this mini-series. Instead, I'm going to have to put up with Len Wein on scripting duties. Seriously?! What does this guy know about Swamp Thing?! Oh sure. He created the character. But who cares?! Rob Liefeld created Deadpool too! But can you imagine Liefeld writing Deadpool as the character he is today?! It would be a disaster! Now imagine if he were drawing it as well?! Hmm. Hey, Marvel Comics? I know you're not reading this because nobody in the business reads this. But just in case you accidentally are reading this because you thought it was an important piece of journalism by Comic Book Resources or one of the other shit comic book websites, could you get Rob to draw and write a Deadpool mini-series? I'd really appreciate it because I could use a good laugh.

Liefeld and Deadpool probably isn't the best analogy to Len Wein and Swamp Thing because Len Wein is respected in the comic book business. But he is older and I'm always a bit worried when I'm reading something written by somebody returning to their halcyon younger days. Remember how Marv Wolfman sucked his own asshole dry in the Trigon Villains Month book? And I hate to say this because I loved his Suicide Squad run more than I love my own mother, but John Ostrander didn't really big much of a passing game to his Others scripts. And by "passing game," I don't mean American football. I mean passing as in grades and he didn't get an A at all. Or any of the other letters that aren't F.

But I'm hopeful! Hope is all I've got! And Faith! And Demeter! Although Demeter hates when I only tip her in ones so I tend to sit at Hope or Faith's stage.

The story begins and I think somebody told Len Wein he was writing a book of poetry. That isn't a compliment. It's an observation. He goes on about the swamp being Mother Nature's biggest brat and how a freight train toots and toots its sad toot because it can't find its way home. Which is stupid because trains don't have a lot of selection in the paths they take. Then he snaps some heron's wings with his words and allows a few bullfrogs to fuck and shows some scary alligators just before he uses the word "antediluvian." It made me do the jerking off gesture five or six times as I read it. But then I came to the last panel on the page and I thought, "Hmm. I might really like this. I think he snuck a mood in somewhere while I was jerking off a ghost."

The look and sound of the narration almost fools my fingers into thinking they're touching newsprint.

I like that he calls him a monster right off the bat. I like that he puts him alone in the midst of so much life. In this one page, a new reader already has a feel for what it must be like to be Alec Holland. He could have begun with Swamp Thing narrating his own story. "My name is Alec Holland. I used to be human. I am man no longer! I am sad! So sad! I love but am unloved! Woes me!" That's probably how I would have begun the issue. I also would have probably kept Swamp Thing unrevealed until the second page which would be a splash page of Swamp Thing fucking a knothole in a swamp tree and looking over his shoulder in surprise.

I wonder why DC never responds when I send them scripts?

Oh! Um, back the monster thing. I think DC has done a disservice to the character of the Swamp Thing by portraying him as another one of DC's heroes. He is not a hero. He is a gardener. He's a caretaker. He shouldn't be involved in fist fights and end of the world battles. Although I'm not the editor of Swamp Thing so I'm probably wrong. I guess he's whatever DC wants him to be! What do I know?! I'm only grandmaster at reading comic books, not writing them!

The second page of this issue is a brief synopsis of Swamp Thing's origin which is fine, I suppose. It's nice to get it out of the way quickly while setting the tone. Wein makes sure to get the "muck-encrusted mockery of a man" line in there because it hasn't lost its awesomeness. What a great descriptor for a character. Although it might be a little sad that Len Wein is still using the line forty five years later.

This is probably a smarter decision than the knothole idea.

I'm pretty shit when it comes to commenting on the art but Kelley Jones really is a natural for this book. And I almost never mention the colorist because why the fuck should I? Usually reviewers do it simply because they feel they're not doing their job if they don't throw a bone to the colorist and letterist. But I'm going to praise Michelle Madsen for the palette being used on this comic. The whole thing is a throwback to Swamp Thing's early days when he was simply a monster in love and not a member of Justice League Dark and righter of eco-wrongs.

Oh, um, Rob Leigh can like type or something? He puts letters down good?

Swamp Thing tussles with the alligator not to show his strength but to show his anger tempered by mercy. I hope Superman is watching.

Can I digress for a second? What the fuck am I doing? I don't need anybody's permission to digress! I'm digressing, dammit! I created a Bretonnian Blood Bowl team earlier to play a Solo League (I do too have friends! I have other teams for multiplayer leagues, smartoff!) and I called them Justice League Bretonnia. In their first and only match so far, Batman was sidelined by the refs for committing a foul. It was totally accidental because I didn't realize I was moving him onto a downed opponent's square. I just shook my head and thought, "Oh Batman! Can't walk away from a good beating, can you?" So he was out for the rest of the match eating Batnachos in the penalty box. Of course he got MVP at the end of the game. Because he's the Goddamned Batman!

Swamp Thing has retired from doing the Parliament of Trees' grunt work because this is Len Wein's Swamp Thing! He isn't going to fucking deal with all of that Alan Moore bullshit! This is a comic book about horror! It isn't supposed to be about politics and bureaucracies! But some thing there is that doesn't love a Swamp Thing who doesn't work with the Parliament of Trees. Which means somebody has to chastise Swamp Thing for abandoning his obligations.

Don't tell me Madame Xanadu sent the Phantom Stranger. Did she see the end of the world if her garden doesn't grow some spectacular cucumbers?

Do you think Kelley Jones ever zoned out while drawing only to realize when he was done with a panel he'd drawn Killer Croc instead?

Swamp Thing hears a scream and Phantom Stranger decides he's done his job and delivered his warning so fuck whoever needs help. He buggers out while Swamp Thing rushes to help a woman whose husband is sinking in quicksand. Remember quicksand?! Remember when every adventure story had somebody nearly sinking in quicksand? Has anybody in the world ever died in the stuff? Does the shit even exist?!

The couple Swamp Thing helps actually came to the swamp to find Swamp Thing. He decides to stick around to hear their story for some reason. Probably because their name is Wormwood.

The Wormwoods had a son named Lazlo who went to Crowley University which is exactly what you think it is based on the name. He was taking a class about Resurrection and volunteered to be killed as the class project. Unfortunately, the class couldn't bring him back to life and he sat on life support in a coma for weeks. Eventually the plug was pulled and Lazlo didn't die. Instead he murdered his professor and disappeared. The Wormwoods would like Swamp Thing to find their boy and maybe learn a lesson during the adventure.

So Swamp Thing enrolls at Crowley University. I hope he pledges a Floraternity. Although he might not have much time for shenanigans because he discovers Lazlo murdering to ex-classmates on his first night on campus.

No! Not...Zombie!

Did nobody tell Len Wein that zombies are on the way out and adult coloring books are on the way in?! Swamp Thing should be battling The Colored Book!

Zombie tears Swamp Thing in half and then walks away to find some other people to blame for his condition other than himself for being a weak-willed idiot who enrolled at a place called Crowley University.

Swamp Thing #1 Rating: This is definitely a throwback. It's a caveman of comic books! It's meant to be and it works. Although I have no idea how well it will work for kids who have never really experience comics from the seventies and early eighties. They might be confused by the narration boxes because they'll automatically assume Swamp Thing is thinking them. And they'll wonder why the colors aren't as crisp and clean as they're used to. And they'll wonder why the art is so dark, especially in the faces. And they'll wonder who the fuck Len Wein is. And they'll scratch their heads thinking, "Did Eee! Tess Ate Chai Tea actually like this crap?" Yes. Yes I did like this crap! I was a bit underwhelmed by the revelation that the enemy is a zombie but what should I expect? This is supposed to be a horror book! I hope next issue, Swamp Thing battles the Werewolf!

No comments:

Post a Comment