Swamp Thing Volume 2: Family Tree

Collecting Swamp Thing #0, 8-11 and Swamp Thing Annual #1

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artists: Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy

DC Comics, $14.99, color, 144 pages

Swamp Thing's new book has gotten a little confusing, as it is in sort of a unstructured, ongoing crossover with Animal Man, as both books are facing the same foe: The Rot, normally one of three elements in balance, that is overwhelming The Green (Swamp Thing) and the The Red (Animal Man). That's not a bad story at all, and I'm not really complaining.

Especially with this volume, which has very little to do with that larger story, except tangentially. Instead Snyder concentrates on making Swamp Thing's world more terrifying, and enriching and explaining the backgrounds of both Alec "Swamp Thing" Holland and de facto co-star Abby Arcane. It turns out he's very good at both.

Snyder is really good at horror, as anyone who's followed his American Vampire and Batman runs knows. And his work here is chilling. But he's also turning up the terror in that he's taken an ax to Swamp Thing's roots, crippling the Parliament of Trees, poisoning the green, racheting up the danger from Arcane and otherwise removing Swamp Thing's entire support structure.

He also does some really terrible things to Abby Arcane, which I don't even want to describe. Go read it, and lose a night's sleep. In the process, he gives her the backbone she's never had before, transforming her from the perpetual victim she's always been to an active and formidable participant. To which I can only say, "It's about time."

And finally, he re-writes Holland's background a bit, to put Arcane and the Swamp Thing mythos more at the center of it. I like that, too, in that all of this was orchestrated a long time ago, meaning Holland isn't an accidental participant. Swamp Thing reads even more epic than before, because enormous powers are struggling in the background, powers that use Holland and Abby and Arcane and some new/old characters as their pawns.

Plus, Swamp Thing grows wings. Cooooooool!

Finally, let me sing the praises of Yanick Paquette. Not only is his work appropriately terrifying, it is simply and profoundly excellent work. And also, weirdly, he occasionally evokes the work of early Swamp Thing master Steve Bissette. Appropriate, and like Bissette, scary.

Highly recommended. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

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