Friday, July 2, 2010

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One

Grade: E
Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One
Author: Alan Moore
Art: Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Dan Day, an Rick Veitch.

Saga of the Swamp Thing truly surprised me, which I didn't think it would. I have read Moore before (Watchmen was the first comic book I read, and I've read V for Vendetta) and I knew that this comic is the one that brought Neil Gaiman back to reading comic books, but I still expected Swamp Thing to be a little cheesy. Indeed, the first chapter, as I like to call them, called "Loose Ends" is what I was expecting the entire thing to be. However, the depth of Swamp Thing blew me away- I hate to say that because it sounds like a cliche. Like most cliches, it is a cliche for a reason. Really, I was blown away by the simple beauty in this graphic novel (a term I feel bad using because Moore reportedly deemed this name distasteful) in both the intelligent writing and the well executed artistry of the illustrators.

Let's start with the writing of the esteemed Alan Moore (who let it be know does seem a bit of a creeper). You should look up his personal life: odd. I will say that he has been known to worship the snake god Glycon (sp?) even though he says it is a hoax...what? Moore is, just face it, a legend. He is a great way to get introduced to the comic book world because his writing is so sophisticated and intelligent (rather than patronizing, something that always really peeves me off and something that has to be watched for in comics...for example, I don't want to be told what I am seeing - see X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills) - the way writing should always be. After you work through "Loose Ends," which does provide a good introduction to the characters, you are met by Moore's breathtaking "Anatomy Lesson." Once you get into the meat of the story, the highlight, for me, that made me stop in amazement at what I was reading was the picture of Swamp Thing's mind after he learns that he is not really human - at all. No lingering humanity for him to cling to; pure science for how he became who he is, which strips him naked in his own mind. I don't want to give too much away because there is much to be said for reading something blind. However, these are wonderful because not only do they allow you to get to know the main character intimately, but they also present some provocative questions about identity and humanity. Well written, with some passages that made me go back and reread them (for example, when Swamp Thing is attempting to escape men trying to kill him he says, "This morning I watched a beetle...that had gotten itself in trouble...with some ants. First there was the beetle...then there was just...a beetle-shaped pile of ants. The beetle was bigger...and stronger...and more clever...there were just too many ants" 31).

The illustrations I had expected to be weak because, I am ashamed to admit it, I judged the book by the paper it was printed on! The copy I have is printed on cheap newspaper quality with some garish coloring that appeared a bit cheesy at first (and - if I am being honest, and why would I lie? - at some places throughout the entire story). However, there were some beautifully drawn pictures, and I found myself especially attracted to practically any representation of the Swamp Thing. The way they drew and colored him had me mesmerized.

All in all, I encourage you to go out and buy this book! I have posted a link ( ) so you can have easy access to buy (buy! buy! buy! - no, really you shouldn't take shopping advice from me. I am forever in trouble because I stroll into an innocent looking bookstore and come out with heaps of books and no money). I don't think you will be disappointed. Let me know your thoughts on it below!

Before I go, I wanted to mention my direction in choosing the comic books. Since I really didn't know where to start in the vastness that is the comic book industry, I decided to begin by working my way through
Wizard's (the comic magazine) "Top 100 Trade Paperbacks of All Time." Interestingly, Swamp Thing Vol. 1 was ranked at #13. Thus, I will be ping-ponging through the list in my own special way. Until next time; go enjoy some art!

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