Comic Book Review: Swamp Thing Winter Special #1
if there’s one thing I will always admit, it is that one of my favorite stories from DC came from Swamp Thing’s corner of the world. I also told myself that if there was another Swamp Thing story, I would not hesitate to give it a read, so here we are. I felt it was touching that they would make this a special farewell to the amazing and wonderful comic legend, Len Wein. That is someone to appreciate for bringing a character like Swamp Thing into existence. Now I should say before anything else that this review for the Swamp Thing Winter Special will only be focusing on the Tom King story.
This story is all about Swamp Thing not only finding himself out of his element, but struggling to protect and guide this lost boy through a blinding blizzard. I felt touched by the gist of this because there is no better story to get the best out of Swamp Thing, than when he is showing some humanity. It goes without saying that a lot of times he can be cold and unfeeling towards anything or anyone who is not a part of the natural world or The Green. Any situation like this where that is not the case is welcomed. Especially when the odds are not in Swamp Thing or this boy’s favor. One could easily say that Swamp Thing would only care because this is a boy, but that would deny this character of the good nature he does have. This situation pushed him far enough out of his comfort zone that there was no room to fall back to ignorance. All we could see was this entity who does have the capacity to understand the value of life beyond plants.
For a good portion of this story, I felt nothing but dread and sympathy for these two. So much time is passing and whatever they are running from just isn’t anywhere to be seen. There was plenty to fear that they had to deal with along the way whether people or nature, but it was truly the unknown that kept you at the edge of your seat. The unknown elements are what get you most considering there’s so much that doesn’t quite click about the progression of this story. Red flags all over the place between what the Swamp Thing doesn’t remember, what the boy says they experienced, and just what doesn’t LOOK right. Lets put it this way and say the inconsistencies get the blood pumping because it seems like the worst already came and yet is not actually realized.
Now the reality of this situation is where the strength of this story comes from. Everything came down to the way you would feel facing what is actually going on here. A truth so obvious, yet easy to overlook because the part of you with humanity would only see the task of keeping this boy alive. It was enough to bring a tear to your eye, and I’m sure there is probably a reader who will shed one. The life of the Swamp Thing is not without tragedy and unfortunate circumstances. This was the best way to remind readers of this if they thought this was a story with a happy ending.
I was only confused by the dialogue at the very beginning and the very end. I could see the underlying context, but that didn’t exactly grab my attention like anything else going on. It was a creative string of commentary nonetheless.
A brilliant story deserves the same quality of artwork to match, and the art team of Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson stepped up to the plate with this special. There’s one thing I always loved about the Swamp Thing stories I read in the past and they all had stunning interior art, and covers as well. This special was no different as Fabok and Anderson did amazing work with this frozen tundra of a setting. All anyone can ask for when a scene takes place somewhere snowy is that there is a proper handling of white balance. They nailed this through a natural overlay and a beautiful blend of whites and blues for depth and atmosphere. It of course is a plus when you can also blend in those other things like rocks and trees. The important thing here with that said, is how they approached drawing the Swamp Thing himself. Everyone tends to have their own way of drawing him, but I’m glad that this version was closer to the original in terms of body and proportions. Absolutely loved the detail that went into every part of him between the textured look of his skin, to the roots taking shape and tangling around him. It even helped to put life into his eyes when they came into perspective. The touch of orange worked very well. It also made a big difference to show the state of decay that he was going through over time. Overall the appreciation I have for the artwork was the story that it could tell without words. There were so many visual queues to take from the art that was genuinely helping you to better question the inconsistencies of this story.
The Swamp Thing Winter Special is a real treat to anyone who is a fan of this character. A beautiful tribute to the creator of this character and a reminder that creators can get the most amazing stories out of characters like this with the right approach. This story was a real tear-jerker. It felt impossible not to get sentimental about this which it takes a lot for a readers such as myself.