Saturday, 6 April 2013

Saga of the Swamp Thing Book Six Review

Book six concludes Moore and Veitch’s story of Swamp Thing’s Space Odyssey that started in volume 5. It is a bit of a strange book because the tone of the comic has changed quite a bit compared to what it was in the first four volumes. Moore and his team of artists are no longer breaking ground, they’re mostly developed all of Swamp Things powers, though there is some new stuff still present in this book. The fact remains Moore and his collaborat
ors are no longer telling huge cataclysmic stories.

In something that serves as a parallel to Swamp Thing’s vegetable nature, the time of death and rebirth was replaced by a summer of horror and grand epic battles between Good and Evil but all that has moved on to make room for a story that is about to end. Everything seems a bit more restrained but everything retains the high standards of execution and story that has been previously established.  

As always Moore is a formalist and as a continuation of all his Swamp Thing stories narration boxes are filled with poetic language accompanying images filled with fantastical imagery as Swamp Thing continues his impossible quest to find a way to return to Earth and his true love, Abby.

The highlights of this volume are the two-part Adam Strange story, the Green Lantern story and the final two issues where Moore ties up the loose ends and give Swampy and Abby some R&R together before Moore says goodbye to them forever. If it seems strange to you that I qualified most of the stories in the volume as being highlights of the collection, you’ve clearly not been paying attention to the previous five posts on Moore’s Swamp Thing run. This is a damn good comic. Moore’s last issue doesn’t end in a climactic battle to end all battles like the culmination of the American Gothic storyline in issue #50. That suits me just fine and it fits well with how the series has progress since all the stories following the showdown between Good and Evil have been of a quieter more introspective tone than the horror stories found in the earlier volumes.  

This is a really neat cover but the
story inside is a bore.
Unlike that other issue, this one gives
you exactly what the cover promises.

I’m sorry to say that one of the more interesting covers (issue number?) was one of the most disappointing issues in Moore’s run. The whole thing was drawn and sculpted in a mix media art collage in 23 pages but due to the printing quality at the time it’s just a muddy, blurring mess of cogs, bits of wire and drawings of swamp thing’s face all over a newsprint quality page. I do not mean to criticize Totleben’s art on the issue because I’m certain that in person these collages were at the very least interesting to look upon but it doesn’t work well as a narrative and it also didn’t transfer well to the page. To add to this, Moore’s script is a bore to read and it simply doesn’t add much of anything to Swamp Thing’s journey back to Earthy. It’s an unnecessary and poorly executed interlude.

Alan Moore makes an appearance for
his final issue as the writer of Swamp Thing
This is remedied by the following issue which focuses on Swamp Thing’s arrival to a planet where plants have become sentient and is protected by a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Here Swamp Thing’s powers evolve one last time and he is now able to shift and change his electromagnetic frequencies thus ending his forced exile from earth. As a reader we all knew the story was heading in this direction but Veitch and Moore pull off a masterful execution of this evolution.

It was nice of Moore to tie up his loose ends, which allows Veitch to dive right into his own story on Swamp Thing following Moore’s last issue. It was also very nice to have an issue to simply enjoy Swamp Thing and Abby’s reunion. This final issue also provided most of the artists from Moore’s run a chance to return for a final few pages of artwork. I wish I had more to say about the last volume of this legendary run but after six posts I think I’m all tapped out. I’m glad I decided to give this run a second chance. It’s unfortunate that everything slows down to a crawl about halfway through but for those that decided to see it through to the end, Moore’s Swamp Thing run offers one of the best comic series of the 1980s and of all times. You can hardly call yourself a serious comic fan without having read this series. So what are you waiting for?

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