"Swamp Thing" #8 finally delivers all the monster action fans have been waiting for. The Swamp Thing is here and is ready to do battle. Scott Snyder along with Marco Rudy and Yanick Paquette deliver high action that shows how aggressive and deadly the green can be. However, for all the decapitations and monstrous bellowing, the narrative seems to go by the wayside this month.
This issue feels like it wants to stand on its own but half the issue redundantly sets up the Rot and the Green's already-established desire to fight, which has escalated over the preceding seven issues. Where Snyder goes for scope, he loses out on intimacy. There are plenty of packed pages full of captions, which compensate for the glorious splash pages of regenesis and double splash spreads of destruction, but they don't hide that the story only moves forward two beats in this issue.
As artistic triumph, we have success. This issue holds some truly amazing moments of visual splendor -- the angelic descent of Swamp Thing being a perfect example. As a narrative progression, we're not as fortunate. The avatar for the green busts up the rot followers plenty and that's about all we get. There is a brutal cliffhanger moment at the end but we've already seen it played better in the Snyder handbook when he used it a few months ago in the massively more effective "Batman" #5.
The art, from both Rudy and Paquette, is the major sell of this issue. They detail every broken neck and morbid mash up with glee and a dastardly eye for perfectly horrifying lines. "Swamp Thing" #8 is action-packed and gruesome but it doesn't walk anywhere near the territory of frightening. Everything is hyper and up front, so the heart of the narrative is neither hidden nor layered. This is an action tale before a horror tale and the main difference is the level of characterization. We don't care as much for Abby, as presented here, for this path to hold as much meaning over us.
"Swamp Thing" #8 is a fun comic, which is a compliment as much as it might be the worst thing to be said about it. There is too much kinetic flow to the battles and not enough subversive terror. There is no sense of anything bumping in the night because we can see it all and we have faith in our hero. Even the final moments don't effectively betray this trust in our muck monster lead. In trying to make this tale go larger and bigger, we have lost the finite centre: the monster with more struggle within than outside. Swamp Thing is fun as this kick-ass destroyer of all things bad but it also makes him feel like just another superhero.