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 on a playground. Hoffman infuses that scene with excitement and intrigue, even though it’s mundane.
The issue’s only problem isn’t Helfer’s fault. The Shaman character ludicrously doesn’t have a proper name. Just Shaman. One expects more from Swamp Thing.
It’s a touching, haunting issue.
Keepsakes; writer, Andy Helfer; penciller, Mike Hoffman; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Karen Berger and Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.
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 it (because it’s retconning exposition). It makes the issue drag to say the least. None of Wheeler’s new details are any good; they’re all set-up for some future storyline. And they raise the question of whether he’s corrupting the previous writers’ intentions.
The comic fails to resonate.
Tales of Eden; writer, Doug Wheeler; pencillers, Kelley Jones Pat Broderick; inkers, Jones and Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 and Broderick fumble–Broderick does okay. So there’s clearly something about Swamp Thing he just can’t visualize.
The usual art problems aside, the issue’s not bad. Wheeler can’t write Abby’s scene, but the inability’s no surprise and it passes quickly.
It’s still a child in jeopardy story.
Leaves in a Tempest; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 and revelations about Arcane’s plotting, his bosses’ plotting and Hell’s mechanics work out here. He’s moving towards a conclusion, not treading water with exposition.
The issue’s not without its problems–some of the guest stars are utterly superfluous–but it’s good. Maybe Wheeler’s best so far.
Family Reunion; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Tom Sutton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 Veitch’s unresolved subplots, he loses major points when he ends on Alec wailing “No!” off-panel. It’s even goofier not to see it.
The comic maintains its momentum–it’s a child in danger story after all–but Wheeler’s trying too hard again; his writing still lacks personality.
Scattered Houses; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 way of reading the issue.
But then Tefé disappears into the Green, following Alec, which prompts Alec’s trip into the afterlife.
Those parts of the issue work really well. Better than they should. So well I didn’t even notice if Broderick’s art is lacking.
Hell to Pay; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 not enough of them. He loses track of Liz and Chester–though he does write dialogue for Liz dialogue for the first time–and the Swamp Babies thing is never clear.
He’s trying with Abby but not quite succeeding.
For Wheeler and Broderick, though, the issue’s not bad.
Toxic Wonderland; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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. Wheeler’s trying to ingratiate himself to the reader and not knowing how to do it.
His dialogue for the mundane people scenes is atrocious.
As for Broderick’s art… he doesn’t do much well, but he and Alcala’s collaboration is definitely improving as far as people.
Capturing the Moments of Your Life; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 whole issue with the bayou residents. Either they’re narrating or he’s writing in close third person.
The issue’s just a ghost story, which puts it in line with other Swamp Thing comics. Only Alec hasn’t got anything to do with this issue.
La Terre qui Disparait; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 monologue mirror Broderick in terms of gracelessness. He doesn’t even plot the issue well. It inexplicably stops.
Oh, and he gives Abby postpartum depression to fill some pages.
Maybe it’s a little misogynist too.
I tried to keep an open mind about Wheeler, but it’s slamming shut.
Augurs and Offerings; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 just doesn’t work here, since it’s a forced decision. Alec getting back to the present just takes Constantine and a tuning fork. The rest is indigestible gravy.
Besides the art and the trip, the issue’s pretty good. Hopefully Wheeler will get better at writing Abby.
Journeys; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
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 fast in those character introductions.
The issue’s about the Western heroes, not Alec. It’s too bad too; Alec’s story in the issue is a lot more interesting than anyone else’s. And he’s only in the story for a day.
It’s fine enough, just bewildering.
My Name is Nobody; writer, Rick Veitch; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
Veitch really puts Abby through the wringer this issue. Instead of supervillains, she gets to deal with the American healthcare system. Comatose ex-husband (and government operative) Matt is now ringing up ten thousand a day and the hospital expects Abby to pay up.
It’s a distressing issue. Without Swamp Thing, there’s not a lot of fantastic in Abby’s life–when Adam Strange shows up to check on her, he’s in regular clothes even–and the assault from the hospital drains her. Mandrake and Alcala show her cornered in small spaces.
All the strengths make up for the lack of resolution in Veitch’s script. He’s even got Matt Cable meeting the Sandman–who tells Cable to make things right–but there’s no explanation how things got right. Maybe there was a page missing in my issue.
Still, the “real world” horror aspect of it gives Veitch a chance to flex.
Final Payment; writer, Rick Veitch; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.
This issue of Swamp Thing continues the time traveling further into the past, with Swamp Thing meeting up with Enemy Ace. Except it’s not Alec’s story, nor is it Enemy Ace’s story… it’s Abby’s grandmother’s story. The issue belongs to Anton Arcane’s mother–she narrates it, she has the biggest story arc–and it’s downright disturbing.
She’s a war wife; her husband is off fighting (she assumes) and she’s writing to him about her and their children’s struggles. Veitch does a fantastic job with the little World War I things, especially the scene at the front. He also writes a great Enemy Ace. But Countess Arcane loves little Anton–who’s experimenting on people already (along with some other awful things). It makes for an unpleasant read; she’s sympathetic, but she enables him.
Great stuff–Veitch amusingly makes the barely present Alec cute. Mandrake pencils, Alcala inks, the issue looks fantastic.
Brothers in Arms, Part One; writer, Rick Veitch; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.