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Swamp Thing #1

Posted: Saturday, March 20, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



“Bad Seed”

Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Enrique Breccia

Publisher: DC/Vertigo

Plot:
Constantine resurrects a corpse, while Abby Arcane goes mountain climbing and an adolescent Tefé receives a dire warning.

Comments:
That may sound a bit by the numbers, but it doesn’t do justice to how simply well told is this little debut issue. Building directly on the title character’s continuity, up to and including the last such title that concerned the adventures of his errant daughter, this issue of Swamp Thing has a comfortably grounded feeling for long-time Vertigo aficionados.

There may be a sense of having seen it all before, as we have some very familiar elements in play. Constantine talking to a corpse in the swamp. Abby encountering an irate elemental. Tefé mouthing off to ancient powers. The Swamp Thing on another dire quest that puts the needs of fragile people at a low priority.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Even though we may have thought the difference between Alec Holland’s body and the Swamp Thing’s verdant form long resolved, Diggle digs at those old bones and finds new life in them.

Constantine is the perfect foil for this sort of crypt-keeper stuff, and Breccia’s macabre take on things is a perfect match to the script. There’s a decided whiff of the disturbing verisimilitude of old EC comics here, and even I daresay an allusion to the pre-Moore meticulous Wrightson treatment of the character. That’s a lot of history, but it can all still be made relevant and intriguing under the right hands.

Abby is more assertive here than she sometimes is (though she’s still pursuing her man at risk to herself), and Tefé is the usual mix of naïve and over-confident. But there’s a sense that her status (unlike Swamp Thing, whose flesh is divided from his flora, she represents the uneasy union of man and plant) will be acknowledged, and that there’s plenty of conflict left between these familiar players.

Hmm, I did say the dread name Arcane above. Not sure if the adherence to continuity is going to lead to a revival of that damned nemesis, but there’s plenty more Diggle can throw into the mix from all over DC continuity if he wants. Breccia seems the perfect partner for a newly horrific journey.



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