Thursday, April 07, 2011

Review: Swamp Thing: The Saga of the Swamp Thing, by Alan Moore

In 1983, DC decided to assign the title Swamp Thing, a then old title, to now-known-to-be-insane writer, Alan Moore. What Alan Moore produced revolutionized comics as a format for horror. My dad tells this story about the Batman movie that Tim Burton made: Batman, he says, was the first movie to "take the comic book genre seriously." Before Batman there were comic book movies. But they were told as melodramatic sob stories, that could as easily have had no superheroes in them. Batman, he says, gave a superhero doing superhero stuff.

As I understand it, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing did a similar thing for comic books. Alan Moore's Swamp Thing was the first comic book, I am told, to allow comic books to be considered in the literary genre--especially the literary genre of horror, in Swamp Thing's case. Prior to it, comics were one thing, and literature was another. Alan Moore helped with Swamp Thing to blur the lines.

Good for him.

If you like a cunningly written story that makes you think in puzzling terms, pick up this one. It's peculiar and interesting, each issue is well structured. It fails in terms of long-term impetus, I think. The largest questions about the character of Swamp Thing himself are answered reasonably quickly, it seems, so conflicts have to come to Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing himself produces little to no conflict. In that way it falls short. I liked reading this volume--the first volume in the run of anthologies of Alan Moore's retelling of Swamp Thing. It left me content, though. The ending of the anthology satisfied me, leaving no mysteries unsolved, no conflict unresolved. The world was at balance.

I view Swamp Thing as a piece of history, beautifully constructed. A museum piece, if you will, if an enjoyable one. It's a good thing to read and understand...but there's better entertainment out there. I feel bad saying that, since it is Alan Moore, and his story-telling never fails in Swamp Thing. Still, he's written more gripping things.

His intent may have been different in Swamp Thing, however. That's something to consider.

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