Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Swamp Thing: Family Tree

Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy & others
Swamp Thing: Family Tree (2013)

I sort of enjoyed the first seven issues of the revived Swamp Thing comic as assembled in Raise Them Bones, but somewhere in this collection it just seemed to stop doing whatever it was doing that worked for me. The artwork is beautiful, at least for the first half and very much in the vein of John Totleben; but then we whizz off somewhere else to reinvent Anton Arcane and it turns into something which looks like it's sort of trying to not resemble cutesy big-eyed manga shite with Alec Holland as a blue-eyed Kurt Cobain variation from some sappy 1990s autobiographical comic, but not trying very hard; and it isn't quite so bum-violatingly agonising as the Camden-Archieisms of Philip Bond or Jamie Hewlett, but it's closer than I would like. Annoyingly this particular weak-link exposes the other one, namely that the writing probably could have used a bit more elbow grease. The horror aspect is fine, and all very Alan Moore up to a missed point, said missed point being that Moore's horror worked in his version of Swamp Thing because it was played off the contrast with a well-written prosaic reality, scenes focussing on the minutiae of the every day and familiar so as to root the story in something we vaguely recognise. This version of Swamp Thing is, on the other hand, just one horror scenario after another tooled so as to resemble some kind of narrative. It lacks the aforementioned contrast and is, after a while, unsatisfying, reading much as though referring only to previous comics, films, or - shudder - games in the same genre.

The drooling abomination that is Anton Arcane bursts into the shack. 'What, no hug for your Uncle Anton, Abigail?' he slobbers.

'I've got your hug right here,' she growls just like Sigourney Weaver, levelling her shotgun at the monster. By hug she means two barrels of hot leaden death, you see.


Maybe I'm just too old for this, but I don't think so. I can read the earlier issues of Swamp Thing without wincing - the issues which came out when I was roughly somewhere within the age group at which they were aimed. This is just lazy writing, media which refers almost exclusively to previous versions of itself.

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