Written By: Mark Henely
Any writer embarking on a run with the Swamp-Thing character is facing a massive challenge. The character has been kept alive over the years with classic runs by Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Scott Snyder, and Charles Soule. Each writer has tried to bring something new to the character (a fact that DC was proud to promote when Snyder took over the book at the start of the New 52) and long time readers of the character don’t look at the Swamp-Thing as a constant character with a particular set of ethics and rules in the way that they see Superman or Batman, but as a perpetually evolving character that becomes deeper with every re-invention. With this issue, DC goes back and gets the creator of Swamp-Thing, the legendary Len Wein, to write the book. The question is though, what new things does the creator have to say about his character.
Sadly, the answer is: not a lot. Wein’s original story (back in House of Secrets #92 [for a detailed look at this first appearance check out this podcast that chronicles it: https://soundcloud.com/first-appearance/25-house-of-secrets-92-the-first-appearance-of-swamp-thing]) was a very smart horror story and I was very excited to see his name on the cover of this comic. But, this comic book feels out of place. It doesn’t build off of all of the issues that have come out in recent years. He tries to make it work by having Swamp-Thing discuss the events of recent issues, but it doesn’t sound right. It sounds like when an old stand up comedian drops a reference to Pinterest into his act in order to sound contemporary.
The entire story feels it is very low stakes. For example, the previous Swamp-Thing run saw the Swamp-Thing’s power grow until he was a God. At one point, he even confronted the truth of his own reality as a fictional character. This story begins with Swamp-Thing fighting an alligator.
That’s right: Swamp-Thing vs. an Alligator. Not a special super-powered Alligator. Just a normal alligator who was a little grumpy.
None of this is to say that this is necessarily a bad comic book. There is a really fun cameo involving a classic DC character that I won’t spoil here, but this comic won’t satisfy fans of Snyder and Soule’s runs with the character. Older, lapsed fans who haven’t read the New 52 stories will find a lot to like about this comic. It is good old-fashioned Swamp-Thing written like a classic comic from the 70s. So, if you haven’t been reading Swamp-Thing: give it a shot; if you have been reading Swamp-Thing: this might not be the comic book for you.
Rating: 6 out of 10
***Mark Henely is a stand up comedian, podcaster, and comic book fan. He went to Rutgers University where he officially studied English Literature and unofficially studied Marvel and DC Comics. Now he has a podcast where he reviews the first appearances of Comic Book characters. It is called “Introducing… The First Appearance Podcast” and you can check it out on iTunes and Stitcher. https://soundcloud.com/first-appearanceYou can also follow Mark on Twitter @MarkHenely***