Review: Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Doug Mahnke
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Humanity is on its last legs and the Rot, the Red, and the Green come together to finish it off. However, there’s one nasty piece of work who’s got a trick (or three) up his sleeve…
The first half of Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1 does a lot of really nice world-building, and it’s all completely necessary. We are in a future time and Lemire has to show us what’s become of the world. There’s an ecological crisis and society has broken down. There’s a bit of a Planet of the Apes vibe coming through even if there aren’t any actual apes. That’s the sort of world we have before us. Additionally, Lemire takes the time to let it all breathe as he introduces the reader to a father and daughter with which to draw in the reader emotionally. He allows their experience and conversation to demonstrate what the world is like. It’s very effective and at no point does the issue come across as an information dump or excessive exposition.
The main plot that we learn is that the Parliaments representing the Rot, the Red, and the Green are coming together to finish off humanity, a humanity that is slowly losing the battle against nature and itself. However, there’s one hope for humanity- that old weird guy in the lighthouse- you guessed it (or rather didn’t: complete surprise!): John Constantine! Luckily, John has an old friend to call on- Alec Holland, the Swamp Thing!
In the current Swamp Thing series by Ram V, Mike Perkins, and Mike Spicer we know that Alec is no longer the avatar of the Green, but neither is Levi Kamei in Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1. The Parliament of Trees must create a new one and he’s all horror. Tasked by the other Parliaments with ending humanity, this new Swamp Thing sprouts from a different plant than the other avatars of the Green we’ve come to know in the DC Comics of the last 50 years.
Constantine summons Alec Holland back to save humanity. The concept here is quite interesting: Alec Holland vs the Green to save Humanity! There’s a big idea here that will certainly be fun and interesting to explore. Lemire is looking at a classic theme of Swamp Thing, but with a new twist. Furthermore, there’s a sense of nostalgia as we see Constantine recruit Alec much the same way he did the first time they met way back in Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 (1985). It definitely has a “getting the band back together” feel.
Longtime readers of Swamp Thing familiar with the Alan Moore era will get this. Lemire, however, continues to look at things with a different approach, he introduced the Rot in his New 52 run on Animal Man which crossed over with Scott Snyder’s New 52 run on Swamp Thing which brought the Red and the Green together to combat the Rot.
Doug Mahnke is a great choice for the art on this series. His style creates the right sort of atmosphere for the story and his powerful figures will provide some imposing images of Swamp Thing vs Swamp Thing. We get just a tease as we see a new Avatar of the Green introduced this issue.
Because Lemire does such a good job of setting things up in Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1, it feels like three issues won’t be enough for this story. There are already a number of plotlines to be developed and be resolved and no one wants to see any of them shortchanged.
Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1 sets up an interesting take on Swamp Thing as a defender of Humanity, this time defending it from the Parliament of Trees itself! There’s a bit of nostalgia interwoven with the world-building setup that also has a familiar feel to it. All in all, a strong first issue of this Black Label series.