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Swamp Thing 2: Love in Vain
Words by Joshua Dysart - Art by Enrique Breccia, Timothy Green II - Published by DC Comics (US), Titan Books (UK) - First published 2005 - Originally published as Swamp Thing 9-14
While the last book in this rebooted Swamp Thing series had Andy Diggle at the word processor, it's Joshua Dysart who provides the action in this second volume. And the difference is tangiable - Swamp Thing feels a little more human and a little less omnipotent vegetable than he did in Diggle's hands.
The book is divided between two Dysart stories, the first remaining in the increasingly capable drawing hands of Enrique Breccia; the second passing over to Timothy Green, who is just as talented. Dysart's scripts feature some quite visceral and demonic images, which Breccia clearly relishes, making for a gut-churning but also guiltily humorous read. The requirements of Green are more subtle (though only just) and he suits it well, with a glorious depth of detail.
It's the stories themselves that shine the brightest though. The first, Love in Vain, sees a woman brought up in isolation in the swamp accidentally summon a condemned spirit (from Swamp Thing's past) in her attempt to create herself an animated lover. The second is about an evangelist with extraordinary powers, who oversteps his welcome in the swamp when he meddles with elements entwined in Swamp Thing's history.
This is perhaps what should have come from the original volume. There's less reliance on the intricacies of the complex Swamp Thing mythologies and more cheerful (albeit horrific!) storytelling, drawing on the past but using it as a point of reference to move forward from, instead of leaning on it too heavily. We can't think that any Swamp Thing fan (except for perhaps the fussiest of Alan Moore purists) could get too upset about this and not see it for what it actually is: a couple of ripping horror yarns, set deep in the Louisiana swamp.
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