Swamp Thing 40

swamp thing 40

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Swamp Thing 40, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Drew: I’ve always been frustrated by endings. Not necessarily because I want the story to continue, and not even because they’re done poorly (though they often are), but because the notion of “ending” draws attention to the limits of the narrative precisely when we want to savor every moment of the story itself. “Life goes on,” so the saying goes, but stories don’t — at least, not on the page. It’s a testament to this awkwardness that even William Shakespeare felt the need to lampshade it, defiantly pointing at the limits of the narrative itself in the hopes of elevating it beyond them. Charles Soule does something very similar in his Swamp Thing 40, turning this final issue into a postmodern commentary on endings in general. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 39

swamp thing 39

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 39, originally released February 4th, 2015.

“My lack of vision was unsurprising, in a way. If you’ve lived within a system long enough, it’s hard to imagine existing without it.”

Lady Weeds / The Machine Queen, Swamp Thing 39

Patrick: Comics, and superhero comics in particular, are a recursive, thematically redundant medium. Archie’s always going to date two ladies, Batman’s always going to miss his parents, Spider-Man is always going to crack wise. But if the X-Men are always going to be an analogue for any group with outsider status, why do we even bother to pick up the new issues? Is there something comfortable in reiterating on the same themes over and over again? Swamp Thing 39 features just about every single Swamp Thing-ism you can name — grotesque body horror, warring elementals, physically repulsive affection, John Constantine — but still seems to slyly suggest that there’s an alternative to all of it. Charles Soule has played the part of Swamp Thing writer so faithfully for so long, but if he’s any bit as anarchic as Lady Weeds — a character of his creation — we might be in store for an unpredictable ending to his final Swamp Thing story. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 38

swamp thing 38

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Swamp Thing 38, originally released January 7th, 2015.

Spencer: For lack of a better word, our bodies are sacred. Everything we are is contained inside our body, and while we can do our best to make a mark on the world and be remembered for it, the truth is that once our body is gone, so are we. It’s why invasions of our personal space — whether by an oblivious close-talker or someone with more insidious motives — are so deeply unsettling, and why tattoos have come to be such a powerful form of self-expression. It’s that kind of deep, primal connection that the Machine Queen exploits by attacking Swamp Thing with his own reanimated corpse; when one has transcended humanity in the way Alec Holland has, it’s probably the only way to make him vulnerable again. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 1: Futures End

futures end swamp thing 1Today, Patrick and Greg are discussing Swamp Thing 1: Futures End originally released September 3, 2014.

Patrick: Okay, so why “five years later,” huh? What’s the point of all these glances into the theoretic furutre of DC Comics? I know it shouldn’t matter that these stories may prove to be part of a future-narrative that gets wiped out of the canon, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’re reading a bunch of what-if stories. Intriguingly, these glimpses into future have their eyes set on the past; evoking elements of Pre-Flashpoint continuity and reconciling that with what’s been established since September of 2011. The future is a point on a line, plotted using the past and present as reference. It’s a herculean task, but one that writer Charles Soule and artist Jesus Saiz are more than up for, aligning themselves with the intrepid Alec Holland, perhaps unsure that they would make it through to the other side unharmed.

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Swamp Thing 24

swamp thing 24

Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing 24, originally released October 2nd, 2013.

Scott: Taking over a title from Scott Snyder can’t be easy, at least not as easy as Charles Soule is making it look. Soule has filled in admirably as the new writer of Swamp Thing, and the title is as much of a must-read now as it ever was under Snyder. Much of the allure has been generated by the mysterious villain Seeder, whose identity is finally revealed in Swamp Thing 24. Regardless of how you feel about the reveal, there’s no denying that it involves a remarkable callback to Snyder’s run- it’s a moment for which neither writer can take full credit. Could the reason the transition from Snyder to Soule has gone so smoothly be because they were planning this moment together, all along? Either way, the attention to detail ought to be enough to blow you away.
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Swamp Thing 23.1: Arcane

arcane 23.1Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing 23.1: Arcane, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of the Villain’s Month event. Click here for our Villains Month coverage.

Scott: Some villainous behavior is justifiable — if you get all sides of the story, you can at least understand why someone would commit such seemingly evil acts. This is a big part of Villains Month, understanding why villains act the way they act. In fact, many of these issues have taken advantage of a little trick: when you tell a story from a character’s perspective, that character immediately becomes more sympathetic to the reader, even if that character is not such a great person. But there are some villains whose actions cannot be justified, who have an inherent evil to their ways that a normal person just can’t understand. Anton Arcane is one of these villains.
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Animal Man 18

Alternating Currents: Animal Man 18, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Animal Man 18, originally released March 6th, 2013. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage. 

Drew: Many fans were dismayed when DC spoiled the end of Batman Incorporated 8, but it really wasn’t just that they had made those spoilers available — it was that they made them unavoidable, popping up when you accessed their website with no way of avoiding the information. Sure, you could argue that the cover to that issue (which had, unfortunately, already been leaked) gave the ending away, but it’s not exactly like comic book covers have to be representing actual events in the issue. Case in point: Batman R.I.P., which — contrary to what the title suggests — [SPOILER] doesn’t feature the death of Batman. In fact, the well-known hyperbolic nature of comic book covers is precisely what made me so skeptical that Animal Man 18 would actually feature “the most TRAGIC DAY in the life of BUDDY BAKER!” (Spoilers after the jump) Continue reading

Animal Man 17

animal man 17 ROT

Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Animal Man 17, originally released February 6th, 2013. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage. 

Scott: This comic is called Animal Man, but it’s hardly about Buddy Baker at this point. Sure, Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the focal points of the RotWorld crossover event, but their personal objectives and motivations are overshadowed by RotWorld itself. There are so many characters fighting against the rot that it’s tough to consider Animal Man the main character in this issue, and even more difficult to think of his personal motivation — to save Maxine — as the emotional center of the story. Throw in the fact that this issue truly is a crossover with Swamp Thing, and it’s harder yet to think of this as Animal Man’s story. Not that that’s a bad thing. Animal Man is part of an awesome team fighting against the Rot, and the collective inventiveness they display here makes Animal Man 17 a thoroughly fun and often jaw-droppingly cool experience.

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Swamp Thing 17

swamp thing 17 ROT

Today, Drew and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing 17, originally released February 6th, 2013. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage. 

“It’s horrible when you sense the “to be continued” coming. You know, you’re watching the show, you’re into the story. You know, there’s like 5 minutes left and you realize “Hey! They can’t make it! Timmy’s still stuck in the cave. There’s no way they wrap this up in 5 minutes!” I mean, the whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I want a long, boring story with no point to it, I have my life.”

– Jerry Seinfeld

Drew: Comics are a serialized medium. Spirited debates can be had about the relative virtues of straight serialization or a more episodic approach, but most readers understand that a given story may not wrap up in a single issue. The surprise “to be continued” described in the epigraph doesn’t happen as often in comics, where issues are clearly billed as the conclusion, but I found myself reminded of that experience as I neared the end of Swamp Thing 17, realizing that the “Finale” billed on the cover might not be so final, after all. Continue reading

Swamp Thing 16

swamp thing 16 ROT

Today, Shelby and Michael are discussing Swamp Thing 16, originally released January 9th, 2013. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage. 

Shelby: Enough “Poor Alec.” Last month, we talked about Alec’s lonely road and his single shining star, Abby. Well, that’s all over! He’s got the resources of Batman in the hands of Barbara Gordon, one of the smartest people in the DCU. He can feel his lady love leading him on, and now that he’s got the backup he needs, he’s going to put an end to this Rot shit once and for all! It’s Swamp Thing’s rallying call! He’s gonna kick some ass in the greenest way imagined! No more pity, it’s time for action! Just as we start to get really pumped, though, Scott Snyder reminds us that it might actually be too late after all.

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