Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1 Review

What Happens When The Forces Of Nature Have Had Enough Of Humanity?

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Doug Mahnke
Colors by: David Baron
Letters by: Steve Wands
Cover price: $6.99
Release date: December 28, 2021

Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1 travels to the near future, where global warming has turned Earth into a water planet with few places of dry land left. When the Green, the Red, and the Rot agree humanity has squandered its resources, they decide the only path to salvation is to wipe out the remnants of humanity and begin again.

Was It Good?

How?!? How did Jeff Lemire manage to pull off a fresh, original, more compelling story with Swamp Thing in a single, double-sized issue when the current Swamp Thing title hasn't been able to achieve a fraction of the same success after ten issues? Why isn't Jeff Lemire getting an exclusivity contract with DC? Oy!

Let's begin at the beginning. As the blurb lays out, this is an Elseworlds style story set decades in the future. The Earth is on the brink of becoming covered with water, and the last remnants of humanity are clustered together in small fishing villages on what little dry land is left. Some villages want to be left in peace, others choose to live the Earth's remaining years as predators.

A Parliament comprised of the Green, the Red, and the Rot agrees that if the Earth dies, they go with it, so their best course of action is to wipe out the destructive human species and start over with simpler life while there's still time. 

Despite the complexity of characters and concepts, the story is straightforward. Since the Earth is dying, there's a ticking clock, immediately implementing an atmosphere of urgent tension. The humans fighting amongst themselves create a feeling of desperation because they have nowhere to go while they struggle to live.

Even when the Parliament meets, the drama is entirely human-centric in the early pages. However, when the "cleansing" begins, the action kicks into high gear with familiar faces, albeit many older-looking ones. There's no decompressed storytelling here as you get it all, fully fleshed out and racing for maximum entertainment.

"Where is all this going?" you may ask. Where this is going is a taut, dramatic, tense, layered, nuanced story about the end of humanity, and only the Swamp Thing has the slightest hope of saving it. This story encompasses everything you want in a Swamp Thing story and then some.

As much as I'm crowing about the story, Mahnke's art deserves equal praise for creating a filthy, dying, defeated world that brings it all to life. Please take note, there's a fair bit of gore in this issue, and Mahnke is also not shy about showing you every bit of it, and that's a compliment.

Bits and Pieces

Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1 imagines a world on the brink of destruction when the powers decide it's time to start over. Lemire's writing is grim and hard-hitting in all the best ways, and the art team has created a world that feels like it's at the end of its rope. However, when the monsters come out to do their worst, familiar faces make this story feel entirely fresh and friendly at the same time.


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