COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 – How to Become Top Cop | FanboysInc

COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 – How to Become Top Cop

By Buddy Beaudoin

COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 - How to Become Top Cop

Writer: Len Wein

Artists: Kelley Jones, Michelle Madsen, Rob Leigh


DC Comics

This latest issue of Swamp Thing picks up right where the last one left off. Alec Holland has been transformed back into a human by Zatanna, and his former sworn protector, Matt Cable, has taken his place as the Avatar of Earth.

COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 - How to Become Top Cop

Swamp Thing #4 – Page 2

From there, this issue mostly reads like a PG-13 rated episode of Scooby Doo. Things do angle towards the darker side that the series has become known for, but in a way that almost feels inconsequential. Yes, Matt Cable, as Swamp Thing goes power crazy and rips people to shreds. That happens. But it’s presented in such a way that it feels dull. Even in the panels where Alec is pleading with Cable to stop, it feels flat. That may be caused by the rest of the issue around it feeling like it’s been treated with kid gloves.

Where the series is still good right now is the art. The entire art team has consistently been good, and have kept this series feeling like a true Swamp Thing. The characters are emotive, and that helps a lot in making Swamp Thing’s power set shine through. There are panels in here that show just how brutal that power set can be, and they stand out. Unfortunately, again, they stand out because so much of this issue comes off as a little childish.

COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 - How to Become Top Cop

Swamp Thing #4 – Page 6

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All of that being said, the story still has some real progression to it. Alec feels bad for Matt. he doesn’t want him to bear the burden of being Earth’s avatar, and all of the awfulness that can come along with that. There’s a brief training montage in which Matt learns all of his new powers, conveniently over the course of a couple of hours. Alec follows Matt around through a series of expository pages that reveal Matt’s true, and terrible, intentions. The two come upon a poacher who has just shot a deer, and Matt, the new Swamp Thing, tears that poacher limb from limb in a test of his power. Alec implores him to stop, to calm down. But, Matt is just getting started. He snatches up Alec and brings him to the nearest town, again, where he starts to rip people apart. He reveals his evil plan to take over the world, and the issue ends with him getting some media coverage.

In these scenes, one thing that’s particularly of note is how the townspeople talk. Granted, we’re in the bayou, and there’s a certain lingo there. But in this world, every one of the speaking townspeople sounds like a backwoods redneck, even when the art depicts a pretty normal looking suburban town. In most cases, including some geographical vernacular helps to immerse the reader. But, where this issue is concerned, having to read every one of these characters as an uneducated caricature of some backwards swamp culture is a huge distraction – especially because every single one of these characters are included in scenes that are supposed to be deep and moving.

COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 - How to Become Top Cop

Swamp Thing #4 – Page 9

The progression makes sense, and it ends at a logical point that prepares us for the following issue. There’s some telegraphing done early on, where Alec brings up The Parliament of Trees, making it, less than crystal clear that Matt will be stopped, and that there is a way for Alec to return to his seat as Earth’s avatar after all. What makes all of this come off as a little weak is Alec’s pandering. There’s no action. It’s as if he is slap fighting with Matt the entire issue, halfheartedly trying to get him to come around to the side of good. Normally, that would make sense. Swamp Thing is much more powerful than a human being, and could basically just do whatever it wanted without much regard for those attempting to slow it down. What takes away from that is the cheesy affect in the tone of it all.

Kudos to Len Wein for bringing back some of the originality of the series. This thing feels like the 70’s, and that’s pretty cool in today’s super glossy, space opera, hyper violence-filled comic industry. Unfortunately, given all of the places that the series has been since Wein’s original ideas, from Allen Moore’s saga, to the macabre reintroduction in the New 52, this series, especially in this issue, feels out of place.

COMIC REVIEW: Swamp Thing #4 - How to Become Top Cop

Swamp Thing #4 – Page 14

The “Best There Is:” The artwork is great, at times, pulling out all of the stops to showcase some of the harder to look at scenes that Swamp Thing made itself famous on. The reintroduction of Matt Cable, and the new take on him, has been welcome, and an excellent way of paying tribute to fans that have stuck with Swamp Thing during its difficult days.

The “Not Very Nice:” What makes this issue good, also makes it bad. While it’s great to see those horrid moments, they feel out of place considering the issue around them. The dialogue feels dumbed-down, and that’s a great detractor from the depth of the Wein’s plot. It feels like a book written for a younger audience, trying to retain adult themes.

FBI Score: 6 out of 10. While the effort to bring back an old classic, and really make it feel like an old classic, should be applauded, so much of this series has missed the mark, with issue #4 taking on the brunt of that responsibility. The art, and actual forward mobility, are Swamp Thing’s saving grace, but are not enough to save itself from constantly stepping on its own feet.

Buddy Beaudoin

Buddy Beaudoin is a writer and independent comic creator from Upstate, NY. He's a fan of tea, spacey music, and a nice pair of slacks. He LOVES comics. Batman, Swamp Thing, and Jonah Hex are some favorites, but he's also a pretty big fan of the indies. Should you ever need him, walk outside and yell his name loudly...

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