Sunday, September 2, 2012

Swamped

Swamp Thing: Raise Them Bones: written by Scott Snyder; illustrated by Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy (2011-2012; collected 2012): I'm not sure there was any character who more needed a clean reboot than Swamp Thing when DC implemented its line-wide 'soft' reboot late last summer. Alas, this was indeed a soft reboot -- apparently, pretty much everything that happened to Swamp Thing in 40 years of comic-book adventures happened to him anyway. It all just happened in five years. Or something. We still haven't really been told.

With this loopy, continuity-albatross around their necks, Snyder, Paquette and Rudy do a solid job of giving us a partially rebooted Swamp Thing who has yet to be Swamp Thing even though he already was Swamp Thing. I'm not explaining that last bit any further. Paquette and Rudy draw some lovely, gooshy creature work, and a suitably gloopy, grungy, fertile swamp environment; Snyder deftly sketches out characters who are both familiar and subtly changed.

Unfortunately, Swamp Thing, like a number of other New 52 titles, drops us into a lengthy storyline that, as of this writing, shows no signs of wrapping up any time soon. We're essentially reading the longest origin story for Swamp Thing ever written, by a factor of five or six and climbing.

And we're also in a storyline that intimately crosses over into an equally lengthy storyline in Animal Man. By the time it's all over, the opening storyline of the new Swamp Thing will also be the single longest Swamp Thing arc in comic-book history. I've enjoyed it so far, but I enjoy it less and less as I go along. None of the issues stand alone, and some of the issues require a parallel reading of Animal Man as well.

Frankly, Captain, I'm exhausted.

I'll keep reading, but I sincerely hope that after this enormous opening, we get a few stand-alone issues and short arcs. If we don't, here and elsewhere in the New 52 line, DC will founder on its new continuity with astonishing rapidity. Recommended.

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