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It’s not just the nostalgia talking when I say I am disappointed in Scott Snyder’s run on Swamp Thing. His story has been good, and the new characters he has introduced into the Swamp Thing saga are fantastic and possibly even worthy of their predecessors. But the treatment of the old characters fans know and love, their transformation into hollow shells of their former selves, and the artwork, which is clearly trying too hard, are impossible to overlook.
Alec continues to refute the Parliament of Trees who insist he take on the role of the Swamp Thing and become their warrior. Nonetheless, he keeps traveling with the Swamp Thing’s once-lover, Abigail Arcane, who is part of the Rot and may turn out to be an even bigger foe for Holland than her seemingly all-powerful little brother.
Abigail’s brother is part of the new brood from writer Scott Snyder’s new Swamp Thing, and the best element of the new series. He is creepy, with his power to literally turn people inside out. His innocent, childish face and his pitiful origin story only add to how interesting and detailed his character is. The only complaint I have with him is that he made the turn from innocent to downright demonic in only one issue, and while his scenes in this issue are great because of how demonic he is, it is jarring to see such a huge difference in only one issue.
The Parliament of Trees are another part of Snyder’s brood that have huge potential, but they are never used effectively in this issue. It was interesting to see the origin of one of their members in a previous issue, but now all they do is continue to tell Alec the same thing: become Swamp Thing, which is the biggest problem of this issue: Alec Holland is still refusing his call to action, and it has gone on long enough.
Ironically, despite some things in the series being rushed, like William’s and a former Swamp Thing’s origin story, Snyder’s present storyline is crawling by at a snail’s pace at the expense of Alec’s character. In every issue Alec has refused to become Swamp Thing. In the first issue, the tension was already building, because we learned Alec’s living body had never been Swamp Thing, only his corpse. The possibilities were endless at what a living Alec as Swamp Thing could be capable of. This easily instilled excitement in the learned Swamp Thing follower. But Alec has continued even in issue four at being a whiner, refusing his call to action. He has very little interesting characterization or dialogue to make up for this constant wallowing.
Abigail has also taken a huge blow character-wise. Like Alec, she does not remind me of herself back in the original Swamp Thing series, and I don’t just mean because of her new boyish hair-style. Abigail has always been a strong character, but kept a feminine appeal about her. Now, her character has been swapped out for the much more common and much less dynamic “tough-girl” character, which is explained with one of numerous plot devices that have tarnished the name of the original series.
The change in artists from Guillem March to Marco Rudy also contributes to a huge flaw in this issue: the artwork is clearly trying to “wow” readers with the constant drawings outside the panels. This is a poor attempt to go “outside of the box” in the most literal way possible. The psychedelic colors also add nothing to the artwork and turn it into a clustered mesh of color.
There were a few moments that made me go “wow;” specifically some great imagery between Abigail and Alec while they are both sleeping and experiencing the Rot and the Green. This page does not have a lot going on and instead focuses on some basic, but beautiful imagery which worked better than the rest of the artwork, despite the snippet of dialogue that makes the reader appreciate the artwork a little less for a second.
This issue is not horrendous, but for hardcore Swamp Thing fans of an older generation this comic can cause you to rant for almost 800 words. The storyline is not terrible, other than the blood-curdling slow pace. The newer characters are good, if sometimes misused, and the violent scenes are well-done. Snyder knows how to create a good horror story. The artwork has potential, but the artist needs to stop trying to “wow” his audience with every panel: his work quickly becomes repetitious and blends together to the point of making readers go cross-eyed. Even newer readers will soon, if not already, be asking, “When are we getting to the bulk of the story?” and “Why can I no longer see straight?”