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Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 4

Vertigo

Written by Alan Moore; Art by Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Stan Woch, Tatjana Wood and others; Original Series Cover Art by Stephen Bissette & John Totleben

Feb 08, 2011 Alan Moore Bookmark and Share


The latest Saga of the Swamp Thing hardcover edition (issues #43-50) would have easily received a higher rating if it weren’t for the faded newspaper-style paper quality. I know it’s recycled paper stock, but the colors and inks make this seem like a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a few years instead of a brand-new edition. Regardless of this fact, Book 4 is a riveting and metaphysical trip. It’s also the culmination of Alan Moore’s year-long “American Gothic” storyline that he built up in previous volumes.

Swamp Thing unearths his Buddhism-tinged history with “The Green” when he confronts The Parliament of Trees. He also battles the Brujeria, a clandestine foe that was pulling the strings in Book 3. The team-up between Swamp Thing and Hellblazer’s John Constantine is pretty damn inspired, and the mid-‘80s Crisis of Infinite Earths tie-in manages to avoid clunkiness and be quite philosophical. DC’s supernatural superheroes (such as The Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, and The Demon) show up as well. These issues proved as a driving catalyst for the more mature themes of DC’s Vertigo line.

Some of the hard-hitting social critique of earlier issues is pushed aside here for more of an over-arching apocalyptic through-line. Thankfully, fans of that type of storytelling can grasp onto Issue #45 (“Ghost Dance”). In that story, Swamp Thing steps out of the lime light and Moore focuses on two couples in San Miguel, California trapped in the haunted, six-acre mansion of Amy Cambridge, a long-deceased family member of the Cambridge Repeater Rifle designer’s family. The obvious gun control slant of the narrative was not taken kindly in certain areas of gun-crazy America. Well done, Moore.

If you want to seek out excellent examples of the comic book medium, pick up Saga of the Swamp Thing. Moore’s prose is elegant, throught-provoking, haunting, and even funny at times. Also, the art by Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Stan Woch, Tatjana Wood, and others is eye-poppingly good. The panels are as fluid as a fetid bog and ridiculously inventive. Too bad Book 4 is presented on such flimsy and faded paper.(www.alanmoorefansite.com / www.dccomics.com/vertigo)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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Greg
February 8th 2011
4:53pm

Your reading of this volume of Swamp Thing can be tremendously enhanced by following along with the annotations at http://www.tinyurl.com/readswampthing

Imapterodactyl
February 22nd 2011
6:38pm

Agreed. The only thing wrong with book 4 is it’s somewhat diminished paper quality. It’s a letdown, sure, but certainly not a dealbreaker; especially for those fans who’ve already plunked down roughly $75 for the 1st 3 volumes. It’s just a little sad to see the physical quality of the books diminish as the series goes on. I hope book 5 fixes 4’s problems instead of exacerbating them.

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