Review: The Search for Swamp Thing

Search for Swamp Thing

Remember Brightest Day? Oh come on, you remember it. Think hard. It was the giant event that was going to change the DC Universe – that is, until Flashpoint and the big reboot (that’s not a reboot).  So where does that leave Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search For Swamp Thing? To be honest, I don’t know. I have no clue if, post-reboot, anything having to do with Brightest Day will really matter at all. Until then, allow me to present The Search For Swamp Thing and all its supernatural glory.

At the end of Brightest Day, it was announced that the new protector of the Earth was Swamp Thing. At first, it appeared as though Swampy had returned with the partial memories of Alec Holland. However, after Swamp Thing executed oil company big wigs responsible for a massive spill, it seemed as though something was off. The violence alarmed one person in particular, Hellblazer’s John Constantine, the old Swamp Thing buddy and chain-smoking denizen of all things spooky and unnatural.  Constantine has a theory as to why Swamp Thing has gone on a murderous rampage (including killing a member of the Falcone family for toxic waste dumping) but he needs the World’s Greatest Detective to help him find his plant-loving buddy.

Writer Jonathan Vankin has a tough job here. He has to bring a decidedly outside character back into the DC main universe as well as making sure not to touch the brilliant work done on Swamp Thing by Alan Moore. Vankin does this by sticking to his story but adding flourishes of the Moore work. There may be some confusion as to which version of Batman that Constantine runs into, but let me clear that up. It’s Dick Grayson. Vankin craftily clues us in on that by having Batman be totally in the dark over who Constantine is. Bruce Wayne has run into both Swamp Thing and Constantine before. It’s a subtle point, but it is there.

The Search For Swamp Thing #1 is a set up issue, but a well-written one. The story plays to both fans of Swamp Thing and those just stepping into that world. The idea for what’s driving Swamp Thing mad is also interesting, a point we haven’t seen thus far in DC. The only problem with the issue is how hard it is to invest fully into it with no idea if Swamp Thing will have a place in the new DC Universe. I’m excited to see how the separation of Alec Holland and Swamp Thing will work itself out but I also don’t want to get burned by the reboot. In a sense of pure quality I say risk it, Search For Swamp Thing #1 sets up what could be a doozy of a story.

Marco Castiello’s art is very cool and a nice step outside for a mainstream DC comic. Castiello’s art has much more in line with Vertigo titles – the dark and moody shading, and the thin line characters that give everybody a pulp feel. I love this kind of work and Castiello gives the touch of darkness that you need for this type of story. I would be very happy if Swamp Thing got folded into the DC Universe and Search For is a great lead in for it. Hopefully DC will give the idea a chance after the reboot kicks in.

On a personal note, could DC please remove those stupid Subway mini-comics?