Swamp Thing #4. Len Wein- Writer, Kelley Jones- Illustrator, Michelle Madsen- Colorist.
In no uncertain terms this is a horror book. It might seem obvious, but despite Zatanna’s inclusion, the book remains firmly rooted in the horror genre. With that there are some twists and turns that may not be expected at first. This issue sees that come to pass a few times. And while we’ve always cheered for Alec Holland and pitied him in his plight as Swamp Thing, it seems that he’s more pitiable not being the Swamp Thing.
As soon as Alec Holland realizes he’s not the Swamp Thing and Matt Cable is, Holland wants to go back. He’s not happy about the change. Zatanna explains the permanence of the situation, claiming only an act of God could change him back, and one wonders if that will turn out to be a prophetic statement. While there seemed to be a malevolence in Cable’s intentions last issue, he is once again putting Alec’s best interests first.
Alec wants to assists Cable in his transition to his role as the Swamp Thing. However, after Cable proves to be a quick learner, it becomes clear that his intentions are not altruistic by any means. Cable tells a long story of his dismissal as a cop and his desire to police the world through his power as the Swamp Thing. Holland realizes that he can’t allow this to happen as Cable’s brutality begins to show. Cable has become power hungry and he is intent upon using his new found powers and abilities to suit his needs.
The interaction with Zatanna is always enjoyable and this issue feature a fairly suggestive situation with the Mistress of Magic. The biggest strength of the issue is that feeling of pity for Holland that has been turned on it’s head. For all the times in that we’ve seen Alec Holland want to return to being human, this issue presents a Holland even more desperate to return to being Swamp Thing.
At one point in the issue, before Cable reveals his true intensions, the story feels as if it has drifted off course. It truly doesn’t feel right that Holland is no longer the Swamp Thing. However, to Wein’s credit, the subsequent terror in Holland’s situation rights the direction of the book.
By all accounts, there’s no way back for Holland. It appears that Cable has stolen his powers and will be allowed to use them for his own gain. As Holland is swallowed up by the earth on the final page, it becomes clear that the horror will continue. Perhaps, Holland will be granted a new lease on his Swamp Thing life by the Parliament of Tress as he descends into the ground. The story continues to entertain and present a twist on the traditional take on the horror of being Swamp Thing. 3 1/2.