Swamp Thing 2: Love and Death
Art by: John Totleben, Steve Bissette, Shawn McManus
Publisher: Vertigo (US), Titan Books (UK)
First published: 2000
Originally published as: Swamp Thing 29-34, Swamp Thing Annual 2
This is often considered amongst Moore’s finest storytelling in the series, though this collection is split up with the introduction of a couple of background stories, one of which sees Swampy helping out little green men from another planet, while the other features a couple of old DC characters that Sandman fans will recognise as regular features of Neil Gaiman‘s take on the universe. These stories break up the run of the book making the collection disjointed. Since this was allegedly because the artists on the original monthly series couldn’t maintain both their high level of quality and the punishing schedule, it only goes to reinforce that perhaps complete graphic novels ought to be the way we consume our comics.
There is some great storytelling in the rest of the piece though. Swamp Thing goes to Hell and back in an attempt to rescue his lover’s soul, and there’s a trippy loved up section in which he spawns an exotic erotic tuber in order to make an emotional connection with his partner.
For its time, this was awe inspiring and different. It’s no criticism of Moore, but it seems less daring in today’s world of arguably more ‘grown-up’ comics, and many of the devices used, such as changing the orientation of the narrative flow to force a hallucinogenic change of pace, have become relatively common place. Moore’s influence on Gaiman, for example, is plain to see in this collection.
Without the wandering asides this might have scored better but there remain a few minor irritations, such as the rhyming denizens of Hell and perhaps a little too much psychodelia, which in the reduced colour world of comics of this time, feels a little flat. However, this is more than balanced with the genuine horror of a few zombies on the verge of taking over the world and a thoroughly evil character from the first book making a further appearance in this.
Perhaps this collection doesn’t quite do the original its justice, or maybe the passage of time has simply taken its toll. However, this slightly stilted effort still makes a fine read, though it’s worth making sure you read the two asides after you’ve read the ongoing series.
Other titles in the Swamp Thing series:
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