Swamp Thing #1 Review

Written by: Len Wein

Art by: Kelley Jones

Publisher: DC Comics

After a highly impressive return to the mainstream DCU in the previous Swamp Thing series, the giant vegan Hulk is back once again in a new mini-series from the pen of his original creator, Len Wein. The result is not exactly what you’d expect, after so much has been added to the mythos, Wein goes for a more stripped down retro take on the character more in line with his original series. It’s an enjoyable rhomp through a comics style of yesteryear, but fans of the previous series may find themselves disappointed.

The story reintroduces us to the titular Swamp Thing, electing to mostly ignore the interesting Alec Holland humanity questions and giving a more straightforward “B-movie science accident” version of the origin. It leads into some scenes that demonstrate some of Swampy’s powers and a guest appearance from one of my favourite mystical characters to do some lore exposition for newcomers. It’s a user friendly if rather dull opening, one that doesn’t really get going until over half way through. Once we start hearing rumblings of a university class about life after death and deadly experiments gone wrong, things start getting interesting and a really creepy atmosphere takes over. Until this point though, the script feels a little bloated and unfocused. What works consistently well throughout however is the over the top poetic narration. It’s something we don’t see much of in modern comics and something I associate heavily with classic Swamp Thing comics. It’s cheesy and enjoyable in the best ways and settles you into the mood nicely for spoopy thrills.

Equally brilliant is the retro art of Kelley Jones. His work is a perfect fit for this comic, it has a very dark, brooding atmosphere to it, capturing the monstrous form of Swamp Thing perfectly. Some of the early action is a bit clunky, but he soon finds his groove and delivers spectacularly. A lot of the time the art seems to take inspiration from classic 50s horror movie posters, giving the book a lot of charm and personality. The pacing and reveals towards the end have a great quality to them too, ensuring that every spooky details sends a chill down your spine. I’d definitely recommend the art as the real selling point here, much like the writing it has a real classic quality to it that I find to be synonymous with this type of Swamp Thing comic.

Overall, there’s definitely a lot to like about this new mini-series, however I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. While there’s definitely a very nice charm and personality to this book, it plays it a little bit too safe after how many new elements the previous run brought to the table. The writing can often be clunky and not a lot happens in this first issue, but for fans of older Swamp Thing comics or the bronze age style as a whole, this will definitely be right up your alley. A bit of a mixed bag, but still a lot to like for dedicated fans. If your only experience if with the new 52 series though, this might be one to skip.