Comics: A Fitting Tribute: Swamp Thing Winter Special #1 - Reviewed

Swamp Thing is one of my favorite DC characters and also one of the most underrated ones. Despite his somewhat silly name, he has incredibly philosophical and deep lore and has had some of the most iconic writers in the business craft tales for him: Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Scott Snyder, and of course his co-creator Len Wein. Unfortunately, in 2017, both Wein and Swampy's other creator, artist Bernie Wrightson, passed away. This has cast a melancholy shadow on the newest Swamp Thing comic release, but luckily this outing is one of his most poignant and fully realized.

Winter Special has two stories in it: The Talk of the Saints written by Tom King and illustrated by Jason Fabok and an unfinished story outlined by Len Wein with art from Kelley Jones. Tom King tends to take the more metaphysical approach to writing and he does the same thing here with a haunting and thought-proving piece. Swamp Thing is traversing a brutal winter landscape with a small boy in tow. It is unclear how he found himself in this situation, but his only goal is to protect the young boy from harm. 

As they journey towards an unknown destination, the boy and Swampy have discussions about the nature of evil and what exactly makes one a "monster". Swamp Thing is often grappling with his loss of humanity and in the past he has dealt with the complete obliteration of his human side Alec Holland. The Talk of the Saints reminds me a lot of Cormac McCarthy's desolate novel The Road, in which a man and a young boy try to survive in an apocalyptic world. It's a beautiful tale and definitely worth of inclusion in the Swamp Thing universe.

The second story, though unfinished, is still interesting--Wein only completed the outline and Kelley Jones illustrated an entire issue using it as a template. It is presented with just the panels since Wein was unable to finish the lettering before he died. This story has the same feel as Wein's previous work The Dead Don't Sleep which is an old-fashioned and slightly snarky horror tale. The sadness of Wein's passing is abated a bit by seeing his obvious affection for Swampy's character, and while we will never get to see this issue finished, it's potential is easy to see. His influence on the comic industry will be sorely missed.

--Michelle Kisner