Swamp Thing #0

Swamp Thing’s origins explored

Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing never disappoints. I’ve been looking forward to zero month for a long time, not only because we get to see a new perspective on old stories, but because they are incorporating current art and story aspects into origin stories. I’ve got a long list of comics to read, and Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing is definitely on there, but apart from what I’ve read by Scott Snyder, I know very little of Swamp Thing history and mythology.

In spite of that, Swamp Thing is one of my favorite DC titles because of the art and Snyder’s story telling abilities. Snyder is amazing with character development and incorporating dark and violent themes into his stories, which is why Swamp Thing is the perfect canvas for Snyder to develop in the New 52. There’s something extremely primal about the symbolic living battling the symbolic dead, and giving these symbols character and personality is a great feat. I know enough about past Swamp Thing to know that the Arcanes are old characters, so I can’t give Snyder credit for them, but from what I’ve seen, he writes them very well.

This issue is told from the perspective of Anton Arcane, who’s greatest desire is to destroy as many avatars of the Red and the Green as possible. The beginning of this issue shows a beautiful girl lost in a terrible storm, seeking the Swamp Thing to ask for his help in ending the long and dismal winter. This Swamp Thing is the one that we saw aid Animal Man in the Animal Man Annual that came out a few months ago and it was interesting to see what became of him. Swamp Thing assumes that the girl wants him to intervene and end the long winter, but the girl reveals that her true motive in seeking him out was to ensure that the horrible conditions continue as long as possible. We next see a revolting scene of transformation, during which Arcane emerges from the ruined flesh of the girl and proceeds to destroy Swamp Thing. I have to confess that I actually lolled when Arcane killed him–after an extremely short fight, Arcane simply bit down on his head and killed him. It seemed so cartoonish, but incredibly morbid at the same time, I couldn’t help but chuckle. But then again, I find myself laughing out loud quite often at some of the most violent scenes in Snyder’s American Vampire, so maybe Snyder just knows how to make blood and gore hysterical.

Arcane’s desires and powers are the main subject of this issue, stressing not only that he enjoys killing the other avatars, but also that he’s quite good at it. There’s a page in the book that shows Arcane split down the middle, with one half dragging the dead body of an avatar of the Red and the other dragging the body of an avatar of the green. Showing these dead in two different environments implies that Arcane actively seeks his targets and takes great pleasure in their destruction and the humiliation of his enemies. We also see him take the form of an animated brain that uses a single hand to walk and also to suffocate future avatars as babies in the maternity ward. This scene was particularly dark, but not too out of the ordinary for Swamp Thing.

This issue is great for new readers, and I can only assume that it’s great for old readers too, but it’s up to you to be the judge.

–John

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