Review: DC Dollar Comics – “Swamp Thing? #57”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Alan Moore
Art: Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala
Guest Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Reviewed by: Peter Gaudioso
After a 3 year leave of abscence, a panicked Adam Strange returns to his homeworld, the planet Rann. Arriving unconscious via a teleporting flash into a sparse purple woods, Adam is rescued and scooped away by people who clearly know him. In transit, Adam’s leather satchel is accidentally left behind. Guess who happens to pass by and pick it up? The Swamp Thing.
Unfortunately from here, our favorite big-oaf-of-a-plant gets pushed out of the limelight and Adam Strange’s story continues to develop. We slowly learn of a growing tension bubbling between Rann and the planet of Thanagar; Adam is reunited with his lover Alanna; and an overwhelming amount of characters are introduced. The Swamp Thing, who is occupied with returning the mysterious satchel to its owner, is reduced to a mere afterthought.
The artwork in DCDCST? is fun and reminiscent of a Flash Gordon adventure. Not what I would expect from a Swamp Thing book – as a matter of fact, there isn’t one single swampy setting or murky green bog in the entire issue. Instead, the background locations are full of strange, sci-fi architecture, populated by futuristic scientists unveiling apocalyptic predictions. This book captures a sense of other-worldliness quite well. Too well, actually. But I’ll get to that in the negatives.
While I most certainly would not recommend this book for children, I have to say, it was full of some bold choices in terms of costumes. The above image of Keela Roo’s outfit speaks for itself – and leaves little to the imagination. Fearless fashion isn’t the only thing, the dialogue is equally daring. When Adam Strange is reunited with his former lover Alanna, Alan Moore really pushes the boundaries of “acceptable” language in a comic book. Adam’s memories of their passionate night together border on the erotic. And in an earlier encounter there is even a swear word! I won’t print it here, but, HINT: it rhymes with itch and starts with “son of a.” These, and many other surprising moments have to be acknowledged. I applaud any writer that tests the limits of what they can get away with in the mainstream media.
To anyone under-versed in the chronicles of Adam Strange this story will be completely disorienting. Add to that, multiple pages of the native Rann language spoken without a translator, and the pacing of this book quickly become annoying. Several times while reading I could not comprehend whether the subject matter being discussed was involving a person, place, or thing! Being generally disinterested with the character of Adam Strange, DCDCST? may inspire me to do more reading on him, but I came to this book for Swamp Thing, and am considerably dissapointed at how little of an appearance the slimy bugger makes.
I’m notorious for holding grudges. The sooner you get over the fact that this is not a Swamp Thing book the better off you’ll be. I appreciate the very subtle warning of a “?” included in the title. (I’ll be honest, at first glance I didn’t even notice it.)
In the few pages that The Swamp Thing actually appears he is made out to be a clumsy, awkward Neanderthal – one who might as well be drooling. When pitted against the true focus of the story, (Adam Strange,) The Swamp Thing is defeated in a silly and rather demeaning way. The above panels are only the beginning of a several-page-long insult to anyone who takes The Swamp Thing seriously. In fact, to erase the memory of it from my mind I am going to leave this beautiful sample of legendary artist Bernie Wrightson below. For more, check out Swamp Thing: An Essential Guide To The Hero Of The Green.
DC Dollar Comics “Swamp Thing?” only costs a buck. Fans of Adam Strange should certainly pick it up. If you enjoy weird and edgy material then that would be another reason for you to grab this one. But, if you are like me and carry heavy expectations of a Bernie Wrightson/Len Wein-style Swamp Thing, I think you will be quite underwhelmed. Because of how they mistreated and insulted Swamps, I’m giving DC Dollar Comics “Swamp Thing?” a 2 out of 5.