Swamp Thing: Healing the Breach

Swamp Thing: Healing the Breach 

By Joshua Dysart, Enrique Breccia, Ronald Wimberly & Richard Corben

(Vertigo)  ISBN 1-84576-235-5

Although starting strongly, this current revival of the evergreen (sorry, I’ve resisted that long enough now) franchise has started to falter, if not positively meander, in its spooky journey through the nastier corners of America. Reprinting issues #15-20 of the monthly comic, we find a no-longer omnipotent Earth God tripping back to his college days and consorting with his old mentor, even whilst he tries to deal with the imminent destruction to his Bayou habitat from both assorted creatures from beyond and the construction of a huge refinery.

The scripts might be in need of some attention, but you can’t fault the pictures. The astounding Breccia is supplemented by Ronald Wimberly and, for the final two chapters, the legendary Richard Corben, as Swampy/Alex Holland delves deeper into his formative years.

Since this is merely a portion of a much larger story-arc, perhaps the next volume will get the narrative back on track and deliver some of the metaphysical chills and wonderment that fans have become accustomed to.

© 2005 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Swamp Thing: Infernal Triangles

Swamp Thing: Infernal Triangles

By Rick Veitch, Jamie Delano, Stephen Bissette, Alfredo Alcala & Tom Mandrake

(Vertigo)  ISBN 1-84576-395-5

The reprinting of classic Swamp Thing continues as a coterie of guest creators detail the increasingly cosmic adventures of the planet’s Earth Elemental. From issue #77 Jamie Delano scripts and Tom Mandrake and Alfredo Alcala illustrate Infernal Triangles, a reconciliation of sorts with the street wizard John Constantine, used as a semi-witting sperm donor in the creation of the plant creature and his human wife’s baby.

The next issue To Sow One’s Seed in the Wind, written by Steve Bissette, details Abby’s and Swampy’s preparations for that impending happy event, and Veitch returns to write and draw the tale (Waiting for God [Oh!] from # 79) of Superman’s attempts to stop the Bog God’s revenge attempt against Lex Luthor, who almost destroyed him back when Alan Moore was writing the series.

From here things might get a touch confusing, so bear with me.

The Longest Day, from Swamp Thing #80, is a prequel to the Invasion cross-over event that ran through all the DC comics that year. For our purposes suffice it to say a coalition of alien races decide to wipe out humanity, and, as one of them uses plant-based technology, they decide to remove Swamp Thing in a pre-emptive strike. Warned by the Parliament of Trees, our soggy hero nonetheless vanishes from the planet and is presumed dead. Veitch and Alcala handle the creative chores for this and the next part, Widowsweed (issue #81). A frantic and desperate Abby has to deal with an alien bounty-hunter trying to destroy her nigh omnipotent – and missing — husband. The continued tale breaks off at the end of this moving and engrossing chapter as, for no logical reason, the previous year’s Swamp Thing Annual is wedged in to fill up the volume, utterly destroying the mood and the tension that should have carried over to the next volume. These aren’t periodicals, guys! They’re books! Give some thought to narrative flow when you compile these things, or you’ll never expand into the “real” world audience.

That story by the way, Distant Cousins which could have fitted in anywhere before The Longest Day, is a grimly whimsical and dark tribute to DC’s publishing obsession with monkeys and apes over the years and features such luminaries as Angel and the Ape, Monsieur Mallah, Gorilla Boss Dyke, Titano, Janu the Jungle Boy, Gorilla Grodd, Bwana Beast, Roy Raymond, Congo Bill and Congorilla in one attempt to correct evolution’s biggest mistake. Veitch scripts and is joined by a coterie of fun-loving nostalgists including Shawn McManus, Jim Fern, Stan Woch and Tom Yeates on the art.

These are fine stories, provocative and memorable, and deserve to be read – preferably in some semblance of dramatic order

© 1987, 1988, 2006 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

HWY.115

HWY.115

By Matthias Lehmann

(Fantagraphics Books)  ISBN 1-56097-733-7

This stirring and deeply disturbing, psycho-thriller employs the form of a road/buddy movie as hardboiled private detective René Pluriel hits the highways of France in pursuit of the deadly “Heimlich Killer”. He hasn’t gone far when he picks up the flamboyant hitch-hiker Agatha, who reveals that she too is a detective on the trail of the notorious serial murderer.

As they wend their way through the back roads and, at times, history of France, interviewing the killer’s associates and survivors, they build a tense picture not just of the quarry but also of each other, and realise that the conclusion of the quest won’t be happy for everybody.

Lehmann’s dark voyage is gripping and often surreal, and the tension is augmented by the spectacular, moody art, stylishly etched in a powerful scraperboard style. The narrative is blistered with flashbacks, literary diversions and hallucinogenic asides that amplify the dissociative feel of this ostensibly simple tale. This is the author’s first original graphic novel and it is a bravura performance that will be very hard to top; I eagerly await the attempt.

Characters, stories & art © 2006 Actes Sud. All Rights Reserved.
This edition © 2006 Fantagraphics Books.

Lenore: Wedgies

Lenore: Wedgies
Lenore: Wedgies

 By Roman Dirge

Titan Books ISBN 1-84576-167-7

Lenore is a sweet little girl who has cute, if somewhat surreal, little adventures. She is also dead and has been for quite some time. This second collection (issues #5-8 of her own comic) features more bleak, eccentric, and darkly comic strips, stuffed with her strange coterie of acquaintances plus some new – if perhaps not so fresh – friends.

Impossible to fairly describe but so absolutely necessary to read – I personally recommend that “5 Reasons Not to Blow on your Kitty’s Tummy” be adopted as the eleventh Commandment – and fiercely steeped in the traditions of Charles Addams, this book should appeal to the same skewed and twisted audiences that follow “Squee!” and “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac”, “Gloom Cookie”, or even Giffen and Roman’s “i Luv Halloween”, not to mention the films of Tim Burton. This is an unwholesome treat for kids of all ages with a taste for the darker flavours of life. Ever so much better for you than giving poisoned candy to kids who bang on your door.

TM & © 2006 Roman Dirge. All Rights Reserved.