We're four issues into the revamp of "Swamp Thing," and I'm sure some readers might be a little disappointed that Alec Holland is still, well, Alec Holland and not Swamp Thing. But as Scott Snyder and guest-penciller Marco Rudy explore the history of the Swamp Thing, it's strong enough material that I'd find it hard to complain.
"Swamp Thing" might be set squarely back in the DC Universe again, but that hasn't stopped Snyder from writing a horror comic. The opening scene with William Arcane (whom we met last month) is downright creepy, with Snyder showing us how Arcane's connection to the Rot works and just how dangerous a character he is. It's a good tactic, letting us understand why his release was such a big deal by seeing him in action, and how the Rot is much more of a flipside to the Green than any past antithesis we've seen to date (like the dull fungus-based Grey, or the Parliament of Stones).
Snyder also packs in a great deal of exposition in this comic about the history of the Parliament of Trees, the Green, and the various Swamp Things over the millennia (including quite a few non-human-based protectors). It could have been boring, but instead Snyder keeps it moving at a brisk pace, explaining things to new readers while hinting at what lies ahead for those readers that are already familiar with the "Swamp Thing" concepts. By the time we get to the cliffhanger for the next issue, I found myself already wishing it was January.
It's great to see Rudy's pencils; he's a thoroughly inventive artist whose work is too-often on books that no one's going to read, like "The Shield" from the Red Circle group of books that died a quick death at DC a couple of years ago. His layouts are organic and flow across the page, built around images like psychedelic plant roots, or a disturbing variation on a yin-yang symbol with its two characters inside it. Rudy's page layouts are really only second to J.H. Williams III's work on "Batwoman" these days, and in a couple of years Rudy's going to be unstoppable. Mind you, his figures look great too; Rudy follows Yanick Paquette's lead here with soft, smooth lines to form their faces and bodies. Characters look human and recognizable, and to his credit Rudy makes concepts like the Rot and the past Swamp Things look just as realistic and scary as they would if you encountered them in the real world. Whenever Paquette needs a brief break from "Swamp Thing," Rudy's more than proven himself worthy of stepping in to help out.
"Swamp Thing" is continuing to turn out a strong narrative, one that moves at its own pace but never feels too fast or slow. There was a lot of initial disappointment when the word came down that Swamp Thing was moving out of Vertigo and back into the DC Universe, but so long as the title remains this story, I don't think there should be any more complaining. This is some of the best "Swamp Thing" we've seen in years.