Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Swamp Thing #1

DC Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: John J. Hill

Scott Snyder has a degree in creative writing and counts Rick Bass among his influences, according to his Wikipedia entry. Judging from Swamp Thing, both things are easy to believe, although Snyder doesn’t do much beyond introducing the protagonist and establishing the tone of the series here.

Like a lot of Bass’s work, Swamp Thing is set in “the outdoors,” and Snyder’s approach to writing has more in common with literary stories than with most genre comics. He has a handle on the standard tropes of the mystery and superhero genres, but he also knows how to construct a proper scene—everything in the book seems to be precisely where it’s meant to be.

When protagonist Alec Holland, a scientist living in a self-imposed exile from his old job and surroundings and now working woodland construction, talks to one of his colleagues or is paid a visit by Superman, the characters never seem less than alive, worried about their own concerns and in pursuit of their own agendas.

Artist Yanick Paquette also does an amazing job here. I think I first saw his work in Marvel’s Gambit, more than 10 years ago, and after watching his storytelling and style evolve through books like Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer and Batman, Inc., it’s safe to say that each book he’s done has been better than the last. In Swamp Thing, the gestures and facial expressions of the characters and the composition of the pages are those of an accomplished storyteller with a unique, attractive style.

It’s just fun to sit back and watch the creators at work. They are bringing a lot to the table here, and it’s adding up to a lot more than a superhero mystery series would suggest. It’s not clear yet where the book is going, but Snyder, Paquette and company make you want to come along for the ride.

Grade: B

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