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Swamp Thing #1

Posted: Monday, March 8, 2004
By: Iain Burnside



"Bad Seed"

Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Enrique Breccia

I've never actually read any of the previous Swamp Thing titles. So what made me pick up this instead of Alpha Flight, which also started a new series today? Well, for one thing Marvel are really pissing me off with the 17 or 18 X-titles they have lined up. For another, Alan Moore's run on the title has been on my wishlist for some time. Trouble is I just can't seem to stop buying other books to get back and collect the trades of the past! Plus, I love The Losers and wanted to check out some more of Andy Diggle's work. Not to mention that it features a certain character called Constantine, shortly to be played by Keanu Reeves on the big screen. See, non-believers? Some good can come out of comic book movies! Ahem. Anyway, was it worth my 2.15? Read on...

Well, first of all when they said that you didn't need to have any previous knowledge of these characters then they were lying. True, the book isn't exactly surrounded by a brick wall of continuity but it is at the very least buried under a large pile of coats full of the stuff. For starters, I don't really know who or what Constantine actually is and why he is trapsing around the swamp looking for a resurrected rotting corpse, or how he even knows that there will be one there. Apparently it has something to do with transferring spirits but that's about all I got. There are also appearances by women who I believe are meant to be Swamp Thing's wife and daughter, yet for some reason his wife is looking for him in a completely different part of the world from Constantine and his daughter has some strange powers. I'm sure that these are just minor things that long-time fans will know about in great detail but they aren't made entirely clear for new readers here. Still, it is only the first issue. Patience man, patience.

The origins of the Swamp Thing itself were touched upon briefly, and they certainly piqued my interest. An interesting look at the conflict between man and nature from a unique perspective. There certainly seems to be the potential for some great stories here, and I am sure the split between Holland and Swampy will be enough to get the long-term readers to stick around. It adds an interesting spiritual element to the story to go with the familial and romantic aspects supplied by the daughter and the wife. What particularly impresses is the way Diggle takes every single person in this book and crafts them superbly. Even people like the motel owner, with barely three lines of dialogue, are made individual and developed. Just like The Losers, this is going to be another hit title for Diggle. In fact, it is a damn good book, even if it does sound like I am complaining! The bottom line is that if Vertigo wanted to gain a new reader for their new title then, in my case, they have failed. If they wanted to get people to go back and read their Swamp Thing and Hellblazer trades however, then it worked a treat. So they'll be quite happy. As will all the fans of this character, I'd imagine. In the end, well worth the 2.15 after all.



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