Literary Up: Needs Watering

Swamp Thing #1-4, by Scott Snyder (writer), Marco Rudy (penciller/inker), Sean Parsons and Michael Lacombe (inkers). DC Comics, 2011.
Deadman #1-4, by Paul Jenkins (writer) and Bernard Chang (artists). DC Comics, 2011.

I’ve noted this before, when the DC “52” universal-overhaul gimmick first hit: As happy as I am that a couple of personal fave superheroes—Swamp Thing and Deadman (now what does THAT say about me?)—have been given their own books again, I really wish that the new adventures would be more like the character’s original ones, especially in structure. What once were self-contained spooky tales with clear moralistic endings are now ongoing odysseys of existential awareness and revelation.
Yes, the independent-adventures models can lead to simplicity and repetition, but I find the open-ended manner much more lethal in terms of lazy writing. Lots of ongoing dialogue about finding oneself and gearing up for battles which, in a short-form story, would happen by the 15th page, not the fourth full-length issue.
And yet… I’ve stuck with both books, and enjoy them for their own special reasons. Swamp Thing may be consciously trying to return to the character’s mind-expanding Alan Moore era, but it has also (so far) scaled down the supporting cast, and is making an effort to maintain the series’ roots as a horror book and not just the social-satire ecological parable it became. Also, Swamp Thing’s mortal model, scientist Alec Holland, is distinct from the creature he became. As he puts it, “Here’s the last month of my life. I wake up naked in a swamp, back from the dead. I learn that, while I was gone, a vegetable copy of me was running around, battling monsters for years.”
As for Deadman, his given fate of inhabiting bodies of people in crisis always meant his own character (real name Boston Brand) was underdeveloped. What he did have was a permanent pissy attitude, an impatience at being thrust into adventure after adventure against his will, in service to the quirky whims of the goddess Rama. In Paul Jenkins’ hands, Deadman keeps his petulant gloom, impatient even while the mysteries of the universe are being explained to him.

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