Snyder pitches the perfect book in “Swamp Thing” #5: this issue is able to stand on its own and not only continues the story to this point, but it sets up a substantial incident for the next issue and issues pursuant to that. No, friends, Alec doesn’t transform into the Swamp Thing, but that doesn’t keep the story from reaching back into the history of the title to present the concepts for a new generation of readers.
Alec Holland and Abigail Arcane find themselves pitted against the amalgamations of dead flesh Abby’s half-brother, William, concocted in the name of Sethe, lord of the Rot. The Rot, dear readers, is the dead and decaying counterpart to the Green (the source of Swamp Thing’s powers) and the Red (power source for Animal Man). That brings crazy, wild pig monsters crashing down upon the protagonist (Alec) and the reader.
Yanick Paquette masterfully draws the corresponding visuals for those gruesome scenes, using scads of detail and dynamic panel framing choices. Paquette has fun with the whole page, his storytelling frequently tracking across the spread as it presents the tale of Alec Holland’s journey on an epic scale. I didn’t quite realize how much I missed Paquette on this title until I read this issue. The fill-in artists were serviceable to very good, but this is top-notch!Â PaquetteÂ is to this book what Albuquerque is to Snyder’s other fan-favorite title, “American Vampire” in that “Swamp Thing” can be great without him, but it’s so much more visually impressive withÂ him. It just feels right, partially due to the seamless collaboration Paquette enjoys with colorist Nathan Fairbairn.
This title might be moving a little slowly for fans who are antsy to see the titular character in a more recognizable state, but Snyder and Paquette are world-building, and that takes a little time. I’m enjoying watching the story unfold, being in the front row as Snyder pulls out slivers out what made “Swamp Thing” such an uncommon title back in the days before Alan Moore, during Moore’s run and in every incarnation since. Paquette is equally in tune, tossing in a few curveballs of his own through Easter eggs hidden in the backgrounds and details of the stunning visuals.
This book is quite unlike anything DC has offered in the past decade, and Snyder has made it so simply by loving what he’s doing: writing creepy comics with believable characters. Alec Holland isn’t going to strap on a leaf-covered cape and save the world, but he’s certainly going to watch out for those he holds dear. If you’ve been holding out on this title simply because you haven’t seen Swamp Thing in the previews or in a flip through the book, then you are missing out. Snyder and Paquette are creating an ancestral nod to all of the “Swamp Thing” titles that have come before while forging something entirely new.