Sunday, April 10, 2016

Swamp Thing #4 Review and **SPOILERS**

The Top Cop of Houma, Louisiana

Written By: Len Wein
Art By: Kelley Jones, Michelle Madsen
Letters By: Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 6, 2016

**Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom**

I’m not gonna kid you, this has been one weird Swamp Thing arc. Normally, he’s raging against pollution and injustice and making entire mountainsides shudder with his awesome power, but in this series he’s been sort of milling about the swamp, bumping into random DCU “Dark” characters and sort of half-heartedly enduring minor horrors. It’s almost like Swamp Thing is tired of being Swamp Thing, and I don’t really blame him. If I had to hang out that long outside I’d probably kill myself. Save the nature scenes for hotel landscape paintings and shows on Animal Planet, give me a nice warm bed and a wi-fi signal any day. If the Swamp Thing does tire of being the avatar for the Green, then he’s in luck because just last issue Zatanna did the impossible: she restored Alec Holland’s humanity. In doing so, she turned his pal Matt Cable into the Swamp Thing, so it’s not all hunky-dory. So what happens next? You’ll find out if you read on!

Explain It!:

Thanks to Zatanna’s ritual magic and everyone wishing really, really hard with all of their might, Alec Holland has been returned to his human form and Matt Cable is now the Swamp Thing. Matt seems okay with it, though, since his human life was lame and debilitating alcoholism has probably reduced his libido to nothing. Zatanna asks a naked Alec if there’s anything from the human world he’s missed since turning into a houseplant, and it’s hard to tell (because her features are rendered like they’re sliding off the front of her face) but I bet she’s raising her eyebrows and enunciating the word “anything” in a sexy way and pursing her lips and making kissy noises. So Alec tells her he’d like a stack of fucking pancakes. Like, really dude? You probably think I’m implying that Alec should fuck Zatanna, but no. I think the first thing he should do is take a nice shit. It’s been nothing but photosynthesis for years, and you’ve got to figure his colon is full of fiber at this point. He should have asked Zatanna to point him to the most remote bathroom in the house and brought a magazine. Instead, he takes Zatanna’s robe and she goes off to make Alec some pancakes in the buff.

Matt and Alec eventually leave Zatanna’s creepy home, and return back to the Louisiana swamps so Alec can teach Matt in time to win his karate match against the Cobra Kai. Alec keeps wondering where the Parliament of the Green is, they should be along any minute to explain your duties, he can’t imagine what’s keeping them…then they hear a gunshot somewhere in the swamp and rush to discover a poacher kneeling over a dead deer. Swamp Cable lumbers towards the hunter and he isn’t even surprised—he merely warns him and Alec away from his kill. He shoots Matt’s mossy torso, which merely grows a giant hole and knits itself back together. Then Matt uses nearby plants to draw and quarter the hunter in a very satisfying, gory panel.

Matt Thing begins shambling towards the nearby town of Houma, while puny Alec flits around him, begging him to return to his karate training. That’s when Matt drops the bombshell we knew all along: he’s very happy to have Swamp Thing powers, and he’s going to use them to wreak havoc on humanity. He has a great reason to want revenge, too: he’s a disgraced cop, and he wants to show his fellow boys in blue that…he’s a criminal? I’d think he’d want to out-hero to the police to prove that he was a great guy all along. Maybe they’d let him back on the force, which honestly would be an awesome book: Swamp Thing of the Louisiana State Patrol. So anyway, Swamp Cable strolls into Houma, and people are mildly alarmed by it. Matt starts wrecking things with his plant powers, when some guy comes out and chucks a grenade at him, so Matt makes the microscopic flora in his body grow until he gets all distended and dead. I really liked seeing this scene because it’s something past Swamp Things have threatened to do, and now we finally get to see it happen. Matt strangles a few more people with plants, then makes a giant plant throne so he can wait for the media to arrive, but before they show up he grabs Alec with plant tendrils and drags him bodily into the soil!

So there’s not a whole lot of story movement here, but there sure is a heck of lot of destruction and some nice gore. Kelley Jones was never great at rendering human faces, but here he really loses the plot and some characters look like they’re wearing ill-fitting masks—particularly Zatanna. Despite Alec acting like an annoying sidekick and Matt Cable turning dickhole being the obvious conclusion since the end of the previous issue, I enjoyed this one enough. It has a great horror vibe and to see Alec regain his humanity, outside of a dream or hallucination, gave me what I believe the kids are calling “the feels.”

Bits and Pieces

Some rushed-looking art and a fairly thin plot hold this book back from greatness, but there's plenty of good classic horror scenes and down home gore to make it worth a peek. Nothing much changes from the last issue, except Matt Cable throws a hissy fit over being kicked out of the Police Benevolence Association. I wonder if this comic is actually subtle commentary on the overworked and underpaid state of many municipal police forces? Beware how you treat your cops, lest they become swamp monsters themselves!

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