Friday, June 17, 2016
Swamp Thing #6 Review and **SPOILERS**
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Swamp ‘Em
Art By: Kelley Jones, Michelle Madsen
Letters By: Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: June 15, 2016
**SCORE AND NON SPOILERS AT THE BOTTOM**
We have been seeing the Swamp Thing all over the DCU lately, haven’t we? He was in the last couple of issues of Constantine: The Hellblazer, he was in the final issue of Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death, and he’s…well, he’s in his own comic book, which we might have expected. Seems like there’s something in the air, folks: a springtime renewal of our dedication to this shambling form of roots and weeds, and quite possibly the ascension of Swamp Thing to A-List superhero! That’s why I think there has never been a better time to make my most sincere plea: put Swamp Thing on the Justice League! Okay, here are the pros: he’s basically more powerful than anything ever, his sense of justice is guided by the natural order and therefore impeccable, and he can grow whatever fruits and veggies people want to eat on the Watchtower in a snap. The cons are that he probably smells like a gently rotting forest floor, but that can be considered a pro because it reminds everyone about nature, even though they are in a giant metal gyroscope in stationary orbit around planet Earth. Put him on, you won’t even need half of the other guys! If you don’t think it’s a good idea, then check out my review of the final issue of Len Wein’s and Kelley Jones’ Swamp Thing, right now!
To the tune of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett:”
Back from the land of Nanda Parbat
Where all the mad mystics know where it’s at
The Phantom Stranger saved him, gave him a task:
Return to Louisiana, take the fight to Matt!
Aaaalec, Aaaalec Holland!
Avatar of the Mysterious Green!
Swamp Matt is still holding the town of Houma, Louisana hostage, demanding that everyone in the world submit to the Green or face destruction, which is basically like just saying “I’m going to destroy you, okay,” because it’s not like you can get everyone in the world to agree to such a thing in even a week, much less a number of hours. Also, sending such a message from Houma is a cop-out, too. If you want to hold the world in your thrall in a proper way, you address the United Nations, or at least send out a worldwide broadcast from your orbiting Death Ray or something. Give people a chance to react, is all I’m saying, don’t put out the message on local news from burning Houma, Louisiana and wait for it to get picked up on social media and other news outlets, you might as well put an ad in the Pennysaver while you’re at it. Alec shows up to confront Swamp Matt, and asks him why he’s become such an unbelievable asshole. Matt tells him that when he went to Nanda Parbat himself and got the shriveled Fist of Fatima, which enabled him to exchange his humanity with Alec’s, uh, swampmanity, he almost died in the snow but then was offered a deal by none other than…Anton Arcane! Who then infused Matt’s battered body and you can pretty much piece together the rest from here…didn’t this happen once before? I seem to remember there being a lot of bugs present.
So Swamp Matt Arcane, who is now missing an eye and looks all Arcane-like having revealed his true self, is about to attack Alec when he reveals three of his leetle friends: Zatanna, the Spectre, and…oh, Phantom Stranger again. This guy can’t stay away for a second, can he? Alec has the Hand of Fatima, but Swamp Matt Arcane points out that it no longer functions after they wished upon it and pulled a Vice Versa. Only an act of God could restore its ability, and wouldn’t ya know it? The Spectre just happens to be an agent of God’s vengeance. I guess this also gives him the keys to fix mystical objects, because the Fist of Fatima is back in action and Zatanna does her shtick, gradually taking the Swamp Thing power from Matt Arcane and putting it back into Alec Holland. It’s a pretty cool scene, but it’s sort of a let down because Matt Arcane doesn’t even try to fight him, it seems. Meanwhile, at A.R.G.U.S., Steve Trevor sees the danger is gets authorized to drop nukes on Houma, but after Alec is his usual moss-encrusted self again they fly the nukes back to base, which is a neat trick if you can swing it.
Swamp Thing beats down Arcane for a couple of panels, and Arcane crawls to the Spectre to beg for mercy. He picked the wrong dude, though, because the Spectre sends him down to hell, where Etrigan taunts him IN RHYME while he submits to familiar tortures. The scene where the Spectre condemns Arcane to hell and then his being dragged down into the fiery abyss looks really cool and makes me interested in a Len Wein/Kelley Jones Spectre miniseries, perhaps? Back on the surface, Swamp Thing tries to apologize to the people of Houma, who tell him to kindly fuck off back to the swamp, and he does so with a last line that is the comic book equivalent of John Bender thrusting his fingerless-gloved fist into the air for a freeze frame at the end of the Breakfast Club. As an epilogue, we see Matt is in the hospital, recovering from having been possessed by two mystical essences, and while lying there Abby Arcane comes in and gives him a kiss on the forehead. If this shattered pelvis could sustain a boner…it would!
I really enjoyed this issue and miniseries overall, not in spite of it being really weird and crazy, but because it was weird and crazy. This sort of reminds me of Neal Adams the Coming of the Supermen, in a sense, in that it folds a selected bunch of Swamp Thing’s lore into a colloquial version of the character. I don’t know if I needed to see Anton Arcane come in again, but I suppose for the creator of the character I can give it a pass. I think Kelley Jones’ gothic and distorted style worked great, unless the scenes involved human beings and specifically women, then it worked not-so-great. Still, while this miniseries might not “matter” in the long run, it was mostly a fun time and I can’t imagine any extant Swamp Thing fan would totally dislike it.
Bits and Pieces:
If you were looking for the more brooding, navel-gazing Swamp Thing that was the staple of the character's time at Vertigo, well you won't find it here. But you will find a pretty fun Swamp Thing story with all your favorite characters and a little bit drawn from the recent New 52 run, to boot. Still, I would say this miniseries would appeal primarily to the seasoned Swamp Thing fan, who would be familiar with the work of Berni Wrightson, which Kelley Jones clearly seeks to emulate.