Monday, October 24, 2011

DC NEW 52 PART DEUX...Should I stay or should I go/ Swamp Thing and BATMAN

What's good people? I tell you what's good...the surge of vitality that DC COMICS has brought to comic book shops in the past four weeks. If you are a novice and need some lessons in what being a comic book fan/ writer/ artist or all around aficionado is all about then please check this link to another article I wrote for the Examiner. Com . If you are following the current events unfolding in the comic book industry right now, you will know that DC Comics has damn near done the unthinkable and rebooted their entire universe of characters. I am so blown away by the audacity and out and out reckless abandon of this move that I had to dedicate a series of articles to this historic and balls out undertaking by a company that's always carried the unofficial title of " Your Dad's Comics." If you haven't read my reviews for Action Comics # 1 and Detective Comics # 1...have at it... SWAMP THING # 1 and 2...I am a long time Swamp Thing fan. Came across my first issue of Swampy at a garage sale and have been an off and on fan ever since. I will say that my first exposure to the shambling, monster of muck and mire was under the creative direction of comic maestros Len Wein and Berni Wrightson. Swamp Thing started out as a one off, Tales from the Crypt type story that morphed into a full blown sci-fi, gothic anti-hero soap opera that kind of borrowed elements from both Marvel's The Thing and The Incredible HULK in the tragic, monster turned hero department. Swamp Thing was a regular man trapped in a monstrously deformed figure composed of soil, vegetation and swamp muck. Of course he began his exploits as a scientist who invents a bio-restorative whatsamajigger that can resuscitate plant life. Somewhere along the way...the scientist whose name is Alec Holland runs afoul of some thug types who want the formula for themselves and their greedy boss man and the rest is history. The thugs ransack Dr. Holland's swamp laboratory, destroying it and setting him ablaze as he carries the formula to his bitter end....descending into the bowels of some forgotten bayou. Of course he rises as the Swamp Thing and lives on to battle his arch enemy and naked, creepy scientist...Arcane. He battles a creature who looks a lot like Frankenstein's Monster. Another who resembles a wolf-man like Lon Chaney Jr. and he even meets Batman. Swamp Thing was on some crazy, high concept horror shit! And it worked. Later on after it was revamped in the eighties by comic book demi-god, Alan Moore...Swamp Thing not only got much more deeper into psychological horror but became more high minded in terms of what the creature actually was. The conceit that Moore craftily and eerily alludes to in his classic run on Swamp Thing (MUST BUY READING...BOTH THE MOORE RUN and the WEIN and WRIGHTSON stuff) is that Alec Holland died as a result of the laboratory explosion and as his corpse sinks into the fetid murk of the swamp...the combination of the bio-restorative formula and the ever resilient powers of the life force present in the swamp attempt to reinvent Alec Holland and spat forth the elemental entity we all know and love as Swamp Thing. Alan Moore turned Swamp Thing into this kind of eco-connected super-hero monster that was a weird reinterpretation of man from the point of view of a plant. He even created a collection of creatures that are vaguely reminiscent of the Ents in Lord of the Rings called The Parliament of Trees. Deep heady stuff. And that brings me to my review of Swamp Thing 1 and 2. I love Alan Moore's stuff. I sincerely do. But it was Alan Moore. Only Alan Moore can be Alan Moore. The guy currently writing Swamp Thing in the NEW DC 52 is Scott Snyder and so far he strikes me as channeling the deep philosophical ideas Moore once mined for this title. But whereas Moore came off as brilliant and cerebral....Snyder seems to be trying to hard to tell an intellectual horror story. In his newly revamped take on the character...somehow Alec Holland has returned to his human form (BOOOO!) and there is a bunch of pretentious mumbling about ecosystem life webs called The Green and The Red which I must admit sound cool...but I'd much rather see Swamp Thing shambling through the swamp fighting zombies and chained to some ancient pillar in a mad scientist's castle. My point is...this stuff doesn't always have to be so overwrought and complicated. Sometimes, simple and straightforward is much better. I'm not saying that I won't eventually come to dig Scott Snyder's take on Swampy; he is a good writer who is competent and could be on his way to being only thing is...borrow from Wrightson and Wein's original incarnation more than you do from Alan Moore's. Why? Because Moore is a master and we have already been down the dark psychological path with this character. Let's get back to his origins from the original guys that created the comic. In other words...Let's have some fun. Yannick Paquette is the artist on this book and his work is nothing short of brilliant. He draws a powerful, primal Swamp Thing and every page is an epic and lush representation of this new universe we are in. The art is so good that I am praying that Snyder can rise up to bring a great story to match these amazing pencils. Paquette evokes Wrightson and Alan Moore collaborator Stephen Bissette; I get goosebumps thinking of what this guy could do with Arcane and the rogues gallery of beasties that usually populate Swamp Thing comics. And that's my whole point...THIS IS A MONSTER COMIC. MAKE IT ABOUT MONSTERS. SWAMP THING ISSUE 1 WRITING: B- ART: A+ SWAMP THING ISSUE 2 WRITING: B- ART: A+ This review sends me careening into the first two slickly produced issues of Bat Man, also written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo. Bat Man is what I would call a full course meal as opposed to some of the other disappointing titles that leave your stomach growling and wanting for more. Scott Snyder has warmed up for his fresh run on Bat Man by writing the excellent Detective Comics run before the relaunch and then the mini-series Gates of Gotham. Snyder is obsessed it would seem with Gotham City and is determined to create a mysterious yet potential laden mythos that will provide Bat readers with generations of new stories regarding Bat Man's home turf. As a fellow writer I must admit the book is eloquently written. Snyder immediately lets us know that Bat Man is a detective and this book comes across like an action packed, hard boiled crime novel that happens to be about a costumed vigilante. There are great scenes involving the Bat Cave and bat tech; Arkham is used in issue one sparingly but beautifully to remind us we're in the House of the Bat and everything is not well. I enjoyed the new character Lincoln March...although he looks a little bit too much like Bruce Wayne so it is difficult to distinguish between the two when they are in the same scene. I also got a kick out of all the "ROBINS" getting together for a benefit that Bruce is attending. It appears to me that Snyder knows all the cool toys he has to play with in this sandbox and he knows just where to set them up for maximum entertainment value. Issue 2 was not as entertaining to me as number one but still a good read. I had some real problems following the visual action scene Capullo draws of Bat Man taking on some thugs in a helicopter while he's riding his motorcycle on the overhead train tracks of Gotham. Normally I have no problem suspending disbelief but when Bat Man defies gravity and other known laws of's distracting. At the end of issue 2 he falls from the top of Wayne Tower in his civilian clothes and lands on a gargoyle outcropping...saving him from becoming street pizza....but wouldn't he have probably also been killed by landing on this stone monument without any protective body armor or anything to cushion the impact? These are things that irritate me in my own stories so I sure as hell don't let other writers get away with it. Bat Man/ Bruce Wayne is flesh and blood. Write him as such. Other than the implausibility of some scenes...Capullo is handling his business with this book. Bat Man is fun to look at and watch. There's a sly animated swagger to Capullo's pencils that give Bat Man a sort of freedom he's not had since Mcfarlane was drawing him in the eighties. The other thing I like is that Bat Man is not some huge, lumbering, steroid pumped hulk like Frank Miller or Jim Lee are fond of drawing. He looks like an athletic dude with some muscle definition...and that's how it should be. I'm digging this book so far...but don't get too
serious about making Gotham its own entity...and let's see Bat Man act more like a superhero and fight villains suited to his style of crime-fighting. Also...Bat Man is just a human being dude...if he falls off a building with no batarangs or grappling hooks...he's ass out. Sorry. BATMAN ISSUE 1 WRITING: A ART: A+ BATMAN ISSUE 2 WRITING: A- ART: A+



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