After a strong start to this six-part series fans will have been expecting a great deal from the second offering. Did it live up to the hype or did it fall down at the first hurdle?
Len Wein returned to his creation last month and delivered a chillingly gothic tale that smacked of Lovecraft. It was set in a dark, foreboding environment where danger could conceivably be around every corner and featured a cast as mysterious as the setting. He did Swamp Thing justice by returning the character its roots and showing him in a both a relatable and a fantastical light, something which is very hard to do effectively.
The story set forth by Wein saw a hapless young chap named Lazlo die only to be resurrected as a murderous zombie. It was the epitome of classic, grainy horror and a better backdrop could not exist for a Swamp Thing adventure. The first issue ended with Lazlo showing remarkable strength, for a corpse, by tearing Swampy in two with terrifying ease.
Wein picked up right where he left off last time as the comic opened with the titular hero repairing himself. His sense of shock and unease and being defeated so easily was obvious and it left the reader wondering how exactly he could rally and win against such an imposing foe. For such a simple premise this story still excelled at asking questions such as that and building genuine intrigue in what was to come.
The internal monologue that helped guide the reader through the first issue made a welcome return. It gave much needed insight into the character of Swamp Thing yet again and in doing so it made the book more accessible and enjoyable to both new and old readers alike. You got a sense of how he felt at various points in the story and how the progression affected him in a way that you just don’t get in most other books.
Some might say that the fact that this battle ended in issue two meant that the short narrative didn’t get to breath as it should have. That is not a fair assessment as it was developed about as far as something so surprisingly low key could be without being dragged out needlessly. The smart thing was done in ending it and allowing the character to move on to more interesting plots with the remaining four issues.
What that plot will be is not yet clear although you can be assured that it will involve The Phantom Stranger and Matt Cable who were both present in this book. It should also be taken as a given that it will follow the same style as these first two books in terms of both writing and artistic direction.
Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen brought their A game once more as they crafted a creepy world that, just as last time, felt eerily reminiscent of Lovecraft’s work. The staple of a good gothic tale is the ghoulish setting; it needs to send shivers down the spine of readers even before any foul creatures have scurried across the page. That is exactly what this talented pair have achieved here with their use of muted colours and claustrophobic locations.
Due to the small scope of the narrative it is a little difficult to form a large review for this book. Let that not tempt you away from it though as Swamp Thing has something special to offer all readers if given the chance.
Score: 4.5 out of 5.
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