Batman 377 (November 1984)

Moench runs directly into that Bruce Wayne problem he’s been having for a while. He has to have Bruce decide he wants to sneak around with Nocturna; it comes after a lengthy conversation with Alfred. Moench does fine with that conversation–the art from Newton and Alcala is fantastic, Newton’s compositions this issue are amazing–but he hasn’t established any of Bruce’s romances well. It doesn’t help the issue starts with an absurd courtroom scene with Bruce acting nuts. As for Nocturna–who Bruce apparently picks over Vicki (who he hasn’t seen romantically in five or ten issues) and Alfred’s daughter (Moench avoids a mention…

Swamp Thing 101 (November 1990)

Andy Helfer pops in for a nice little issue. Amazing how he’s never written the book before–or worked on it in any capacity (as far as I remember)–yet he does a pitch perfect story juxtaposing Tefé’s spirit form running away and a local woman’s family problems. Helfer even writes Abby well. Anyway, the issue also has Mike Hoffman on pencils. It’s hard to say how he’ll do on the comic–I think he’s the new penciller–since Alec doesn’t appear in the issue, but he does a great job with the people. This issue is all people, including some complicated scenes like kids playing…

Swamp Thing 100 (October 1990)

Not much of a hundredth issue celebration for Swamp Thing apparently. Unless you count Wheeler going back and retconning a lot of Moore and Veitch’s details about the Parliament of Trees and the new Earth Elemental storyline. And the time travel storyline. Lots of retconning. But Broderick can draw trees, so at least the trip to the Parliament looks all right. Kelley Jones handles some of the other pages, with Swamp Thing in Antarctica searching for Eden. The Jones pages are fantastic, even if he doesn’t have as interesting scenery to render. Most of the issue’s exposition and there’s a lot of…

Swamp Thing 99 (September 1990)

Wheeler writes an interesting scene between Alec and Constantine. Alec finally loses control with him and lifts him up, presumably to do him harm. It’s a bit of a shock, since Alec’s always restrained in his anger towards him. Sadly, Broderick’s art ruins the scene. Strangely, Broderick handles the other plant guy just fine. Wheeler splits the issue between Alec trying to get Tefé’s body back and an escaped plant demon from Hell. Okay, it’s not really a demon but I don’t think Wheeler’s ever provided the right noun. And on the plant demon and his followers–except the flashback, which both Wheeler…

Swamp Thing 98 (August 1990)

Thanks to guest penciller Tom Sutton–and a real understanding of the Arcane character–Wheeler brings his Tefé in Hell storyline to a successful close. Oh, and Pog. Can’t forgot Pog. Even though Sutton doesn’t draw him as well as Broderick (yes, I’m surprised too), the character really makes this finish work. Not even Sutton can make the denizens of Hell look frightening or creative. They look like action figure proposals still, but his Hell is fantastic. Some great panel composition too. And I love how he draws Alec as a monster. It’s a static Swamp Thing, but a distinct one. Wheeler’s layered betrayals…

Swamp Thing 97 (July 1990)

Besides Pog, about the only thing Broderick draws well this issue is Etrigan. Wheeler goes overboard into Hell’s politics as it accommodates new alien inhabitants–it’s really boring stuff and Broderick’s art is just too silly for it. Hell’s not horrifying, it looks like a toy commercial. It’s incredible Broderick couldn’t make bugs scary… scary bugs should be a requirement for Swamp Thing artists. Alec puts together a crew to help him search for Tefé, but it’s unclear why he picks Abin Sur after learning Sur directed her to Hell in the first place. While Wheeler ably ties the issue into one of…

Swamp Thing 96 (June 1990)

Interesting… Wheeler is able to sell the impossible here. He does another of his callbacks to Moore’s run–specifically the adorable alien, Pog–and makes it work. Even more interesting is how it comes after an issue of questionable plotting in regards to Swamp Thing mythology. Wheeler does a lot with the afterlife, with Arcane becoming a demon. He covers it–the last time Arcane was shown, his tormenters told him it’d go on forever–by saying the tormentors lie. They’re in Hell, after all. It’s unsuccessful mostly because of the annoying “bug speak” Wheeler uses for one of the boss demons. It gets in the…

Swamp Thing 95 (May 1990)

Wheeler tries so hard and it just doesn’t go quite right. Some of the problems are with the art. Broderick gets more ambitious in his composition with conversations, but he can’t visualize the stranger parts of the story. The issue involves Chester and Liz picketing a toxic waste plant, Alec and Abby’s parenting troubles, little Swamp Babies, Alec versus the toxic waste plant… and some other things. Wheeler never takes a moment to breath; the issue’s only calm sections are when he’s using the exposition to talk about pollution. He does manage to get some decent moments out of the issue, but…

Swamp Thing 93 (March 1990)

Good grief, Wheeler’s just trying to wrap himself in Moore and Veitch’s runs now. He brings back one of Abby’s old jobs–along with an unlikable but nice woman who rehires here, which I think is from Veitch’s run–and also the kid terrorized by the monkey demon, one of Moore’s first stories. Not to mention Wheeler frames the issue around notes from the brother (or cousin) of the guy who took the tabloid pictures of Abby and Swamp Thing. Another Moore storyline. Wheeler’s writing Swamp Thing like he’s doing a wrap-up or some kind of delayed sequel; there’s nothing original to this issue.…

Swamp Thing 92 (February 1990)

Wheeler is getting rather predictable. As far as Abby and Alec go–you know, Swamp Thing’s main characters–he has no idea what he’s doing. But he’s ambitious and enthusiastic. And well-versed in Swamp Thing. He seems to have read a lot of it; he just can’t write it. This issue concerns the bayou reversing to how it was back in the thirties, before the oil companies, before the infrastructure, before the boob tube. Besides a terrible monologue from Abby–she’s not by herself, she’s with Alec… Wheeler just doesn’t know how to write a real conversation–and some interior monologue from Alec, Wheeler spends the…

Swamp Thing 91 (January 1990)

Ew. I guess Broderick is getting a little better with the people, but now his Swamp Thing is an awkwardly shaped disaster. There’s no grace to the form, no majesty. Alec looks like a Mad Magazine caricature. As for Wheeler’s writing? Well, he’s doing the Three Wise Men, with Woodrue as one of them. Except Woodrue’s an idiot here–Wheeler can’t write him. The other wise men are just goofy and vaguely racist. The comic’s vaguely homophobic too. I’m trying to think if Wheeler does anything well and it definitely seems like not. His foreshadowing is painfully obvious, his attempts at Alec’a internal…

Swamp Thing 90 (December 1989)

Alcala’s not the best inker for Pat Broderick. Broderick takes over pencils this issue. Swamp Thing looks fine, so do the plants, but the people look wrong, like there’s not enough detail to them. Wheeler tries to put Alec on a psychedelic recap of his time travel adventures but it doesn’t work. The one panel callbacks to recent issues can’t compare to Arcane trying to escape Hell. The other modern day stuff–Constantine’s quest and Abby’s labor–overshadow Alec’s trip too. It’s a simple problem–Wheeler couldn’t do a stream of consciousness piece for Swamp Thing. Either he doesn’t have the character down or it…

Swamp Thing 85 (April 1989)

This issue’s extremely confusing. Veitch writes it assuming people know Hawk is Tomahawk’s son. In other words, a specialized audience at the time of its publication and an even more specialized one as time goes on. There are probably eight characters–all of them DC Western characters (except a couple for a surprise)–and Veitch has to introduce them all and their ground situations. And it gets slippery. For example, the unseen German princes–who hire all the Western heroes–don’t make any sense. In the end, they do, once Veitch reveals everything, but when he’s hinting at it… nope, doesn’t work. He also goes too…