Vertigo Graphic Novel: Swamp Thing: Darker Genesis (1995) - Reviewed

Swamp Thing is one of the most underrated characters in the DC universe even though he has attracted excellent writers such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar to craft stories for his world. Moore's run explored the more philosophical and metaphysical aspects of Swampy, while Grant Morrison delved into the surreal. When Mark Millar took over the reigns from Morrison, he toned down the weirdness but amped up the horror.
In Darker Genesis, the name of which is a riff off of Swamp Thing creator Len Wein's late '70s iteration Dark Genesis, we follow Swampy's foray into the stories of a deceased writer named Anna. Her spirit cannot rest because she was unable to finish her collection of short stories and so Swamp Thing travels into the different universes in each tale to fix what went wrong. It reminds me of a horror-tinged Quantum Leap because Swamp Thing takes different forms in each story. This is a really clever way for Millar to write a bunch of unconnected tales and be creative. Swamp Thing travels to a place where Germany won WWII, a cursed land where he inhabits the body of Batman villain Solomon Grundy, and many other fantastical universes.
These are indeed dark tales and since this is running on the Vertigo imprint it's quite gory and violent. I always enjoy when these comics have more of the gruesome element, because there isn't a whole lot of good horror-themed comic book characters to choose from. The morality tales in each vignette are interesting to watch play out, and it feels like they could be episodes from The Outer Limits or maybe even Tales From the Crypt. Another great thing about this collection is that if someone is unfamiliar with the character of Swamp Thing they can jump right into this with no backstory.

I found the art to be a bit of a mixed bag quality wise, as five different artists contribute work to this collection. It's nothing that ruins the experience, but it does have that kind of skewed proportions, sketchy style that was popular in the '90s. Mark Millar's writing is definitely the glue that binds this together. This is actually the second volume of the series--the first one was penned by Grant Morrison and finished up by Millar. I wasn't a fan of Morrison's writing on the first volume as I found the narrative to be disjointed. It seemed like Millar was trying to copy his style as well and it didn't feel right. Luckily, Millar finds his own voice in Darker Genesis and the story is better for it.
I would definitely recommend this for fans of Swamp Thing in general, especially if you are hungry for more content after finishing Alan Moore's run.

-Michelle Kisner