Thursday, February 2, 2012

Paul's Picks! - Feb. 2, 2012

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 #6 by Scott Snyder and Marco Rudy

Oh, that's not ominous...
Hey guys! I hope you've had a great week so far, thanks for checking us out again here at Ancillary Characters. We're finally hitting the stride we've been striving for with our weekly articles, and our first Ancillary Characters podcast is live on iTunes! If you haven't gotten around to downloading it, I recommend you do so, and do us a huge favor: write a review on there! Anyhow, I just wanted to take a sec and thank all of you guys that keep coming back week after week to hear what we have to say.

Now on the the goods! Week one of the month is always an interesting one, with some of the heavy hitters coming out side by side. For this week, my pick could've gone one of two ways. Grant Morrison's Action Comics won the week last month with that fantastic issue about the destruction of Krypton, and he and Andy Kubert definitely came out swinging again this month with another exceptional issue. However, the winner of my Pick this week has to go to Scott Snyder and his supernatural Swamp Thing series.

Here at Ancillary Characters, we have developed a sort of obsession with Mr. Scott Snyder. No, we're not staking outside of his house or anything particularly crazy, but it seems that not a week goes by that he isn't at least mentioned in comparison to other books and creators. When the list rolled out of the creative teams for DC's New 52, there were only a few names that I was excited to see, such as Morrison on Action, Paul Cornell on Demon Knights, and a few others. Six months later, my clear choice for the best writer in the current lineup is Snyder. This is of course in great part to his soon-to-be legendary run on Batman. However, while Batman receives a lot of the public eye, I have been absolutely blown away by his other DC series, Swamp Thing.

When I compiled my pull list for the New 52, I wasn't certain whether Swampy would make the cut. To be honest, my own experience with the character was limited at best. And yet, all it took to win me over was one issue. Snyder's portrayal of Alec Holland felt so very real to me, in a way that is sometimes missing in most of my other books. I wanted to branch out from the typical superhero comic and tread some new ground; Swamp Thing was the perfect opportunity. After 6 fantastic issues, I can't help but feel sorry for some of my friends who missed out on this run and are going to have to play catch up. The series has quickly become one of those books where you can't decide if you should read it first or last.

This story surrounding the Rot (or the Black), the Green, and the Red has grown to almost an epic scale. The story is crossing between ST and Jeff Lemire's critically acclaimed run on Animal Man, which I'm afraid has stolen some of the spotlight from Ol' Swampy (... too much?). It's a very interesting and compelling tale about an ancient threat that can only be defeated by the avatar of the Parliament of Trees (the leaders of the Green): Swamp Thing himself. That's a very cool story, and the Rot can be absolutely terrifying, but what keeps me going even more is the need to follow Alec Holland. He's not a monster or a hero: he's just a regular guy who got dealt a pretty crappy hand. In order for him to save the world, he's going to have to embrace the Green and become, well, a monster.
Yep. Both awesome and utterly terrifying.
Snyder takes Holland to his lowest point in issue #6. He reached a cross-road in #5, and now his choices are bringing him full circle. The art on this series by Yanick Paquette has been some of the most beautiful and yet disturbing I have ever seen. On this issue, however, Marco Rudy handles all the drawing. I'll be honest, I still prefer Paquette, but Rudy is at least channeling the style that Paquette has started, even if his images aren't quite as gripping and dynamic. When Yanick has the reigns, every part of the image jumps out, and nothing fades into the background. It's very intricate. Rudy's art is good, but sometimes I find myself overlooking things. He's just a little bland in comparison.

All in all, this issue is another fantastic entry into a great story that I can't wait to see culminate. I don't know how Alec Holland is going to come out on top, but I have a feeling there will be some pretty awesome action and more horrifying revelations before the end. As for me, going forward, when Scott Snyder's name is on the cover, I'm all in. You win.

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