Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paul's Picks!

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And in celebration of this weekly, well, celebration, Paul is here to give you his favorite book of the week.

Swamp Thing #3

It's Wednesday, November 2nd, which also happens to coincide with "El Día de los Muertos." We just wrapped up Halloween here in the U.S. where I'm certain many of us had our fare share of sugar highs and more than one good beginning to a bad cavity. However, we all know that the true vein of All Hallows Eve and the Day of the Dead is not candy or costumes, but rather gut-wrenching, eye-averting horror. Well, at least that is true for many of us, although I'll admit I do consider myself to be a bit of a small white domesticated bird when it comes to the horror genre in general.
While I may not be the guru on ghouls and gore, my pick for this week definitely falls into the realm of the freaky. When I picked up my pulls for today, I was anxiously hoping to write all about how (Grant) Morrison finally hit the nail on the head with Action Comics #3. Instead I've chosen a book that is definitely off the "beaten path" where I typically tread, and I have ventured into the somewhat unknown realm of the Green and the Black.

Scott Snyder has completely taken me off guard with his opening run in the New 52's Batman ongoing series. I wasn't sure how I'd like it, since the tentpole Batman series has not been top notch really since Morrison left it, but Snyder has managed to convert me in a very short time. Since I found myself so enthralled by his Batman, it only made sense to pull his other book in the DCnU: Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing #3 picks up exactly where number two left off, with our protagonist Alec Holland under attack from the woman whom his past incarnation as Swamp Thing was madly in love with, Abigail Arcane (as depicted on the cover art to the left). For those of you, such as myself, who have very little or no experience with Allen Moore's legendary run on this character, rest assured that Snyder has done a fantastic job setting up the tone and direction for these characters for the new reader.

This story has been building for two issues already, so I'm not going to try and bring you totally up to speed on every detail. Scott Snyder is narrating a fantastic tale here, and it would be a shame for me to turn all of his work into a couple of expository paragraphs. Instead, I suggest you go pick up these three issues, or perhaps even download them in digital form. Snyder takes a character that is only vaguely known by most people and starts creating something that feels more epic than any other title I've read out of the new 52.

Now before you grab your pitchforks and start googling my address, let me clarify a bit. I did not say that Swamp Thing is my favorite book of the DCnU. I simply stated that this is the most epic story that I'm reading right now. Where many of these new books are still trying to get their feet wet, Snyder has dived into this world head first while simultaneously managing to introduce the characters in a way that is approachable for new readers like myself. There's no minor henchman to fight, no bland story arc, but instead it feels like we are seeing Alec Holland get ready to take on the greatest challenge he will ever face. While some could argue that this isn't a very good launch strategy, to lead out with the biggest and best, I say it's just what the doctor ordered. Snyder is making his footprint on a new series, and I'll be shocked if anyone could follow up and leave a bigger imprint.

Of course, any true comic reader cannot live by words alone: they need some good art to go along with it. Yanick Paquette is truly making his stamp in the new 52 with this book. I absolutely love his two page spreads, which have shown up a few times in this series. Swamp Thing himself looks incredible, and Paquette's art creates a beautiful window into a new world for us to explore. While Snyder's writing definitely stands out on its own, Paquette gives us the visual storytelling that many artists fall short of. I can't think of one person I'd rather see taking on these characters.

With that being said, issue 3 actually features an additional artist, who is responsible for a secondary narrative that takes place alongside the main story with Holland. Have I mentioned that this book is utterly terrifying? I literally read it about an hour before bed, and I woke up this morning from some disturbing dreams as a result. I won't reveal all the aspects of the story, but let's just say artist Victor Ibáñez has the responsibility of depicting some graphically disturbing images. There was one particular page where I flipped to the cover to check the rating on this book. Even at Teen Plus, this book walks the line between decent and disturbing. Ibáñez does fine on his own pages, but sometimes it's hard to sufficiently observe a page when you want to turn your head.

Swamp Thing has something to prove to new readers, and Scott Snyder is making sure the job gets done. There's a little horror, a little superhero, and plenty of amazing art. This book is here to impress when you may not have been looking for anything special. And in a week with tentpole titles like Action and Detective Comics, for Snyder's modern narrating of a classic character to take the spotlight is no small feat. And yet, that's exactly what happened this time with Paul's Pick. Come back next week to see who takes the cake!

1 comment:

  1. I have a feeling when we get around to podcasting again there's going to be a lot of talk about this and Batman. Love this book.