[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Art: Mike Perkins
Colors: Jordan Boyd
Letters: Dave Sharpe
DC is expanding their Walmart line of 100-Page Giant comics this month with two new titles, and re-branding two existing ones. Swamp Thing Giant #1 is the first attempt by DC in quite a while to publish an ongoing horror anthology, or any other genre anthology for that matter. Despite being named after Alec Holland’s alter ego, the book also features Animal Man and Shadowpact, a group of DC’s magical characters. Fans of Justice League Dark should recognize some familiar faces in this story.
The new lead story by Tim Seeley and Mike Perkins introduces us to a new character, Briar, who, despite a similar appearance to the female character in the lead story from October’s Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant #1, is apparently not the same person. However, this issue’s tale does reference that previous tale later on.
Briar is a witch who along with Swamp Thing is tracking an escapee from a psychiatric ward. He’s an arsonist, and as Swampy and Briar save some innocents Swamp Thing learns that Briar is communicating with Fire Elementals. It seems as if she herself has a connection to these fire elementals. She tells Swampy that they are afraid of the arrival of nothing…and you can’t burn nothing. This makes Swampy recall the Barren from the aforementioned Halloween Giant. The Fire Elementals are afraid just like the Bi’tal. Briar makes a deal with the Fire Elementals to spare them so that Swampy can go off and stop the Barren…!
The Halloween special was a nice starting point for a new Swamp Thing series. It’s nice to see it come to fruition here in this new Swamp Thing Giant #1. Swampy himself is enigmatic as ever and nicely countered by the equally enigmatic Briar. Keeping in the realm of classic Swamp Thing, the two are dealing with Elemental forces, much like the Green, the Rot and the Red. Cleverly, Seeley uses fire to connect not only Briar and her misspent youth, but also Swamp Thing’s origin when he was transformed from Alec Holland to the swamp creature. This theme of fire runs throughout the story and immediately creates a through line for the reader to follow. Everything feels new here, yet familiar and Fire connects it all.
Perkins art is great as he gets to render some iconic Swamp Thing images as well as some gross out scenes of the slowly burning psychiatric patient. With Briar and in the flashbacks to Swamp Thing’s origin Perkins is able to communicate some human emotion. This goes a long way in developing Briar’s character.
And that’s not all…all three reprints are a real treat. Two of the best books from “The New 52” launch were Animal Man by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman and Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. I still think Snyder’s Swamp Thing was the best of the “New 52” books. The book is rounded out by Shadowpact, featuring Detective Chimp, Nightmaster, Blue Devil and others in a magical mystery by Bill Willingham.
Nary a negative to be found here, DC continues to produce winners with their Giant line of comics.
There’s a great new Swamp Thing era that starts here (well, track down that Halloween Horror Giant if you can!)! All the elements that make Swamp Thing great are here in this tale as magic and horror come together. There’s no shortage of humanity in Briar and Swamp Thing that make them relatable and likable. Along with top-notch reprints, you shouldn’t miss this new series.