Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #1 of 3
Vankin, Castiello & Acunzo
This issue begins the mini-series that helps bring the Swamp Thing back into the regular DCU just in time for the line-wide reboot/renumbering. The first issue is a lot what you might expect as it establishes what the state of the Swamp Thing was when he was last heard from and it lays out the possibilities as to where he might be now. All of this is perfectly acceptable and helps newer readers understand the very complex situation that Swamp Thing is in – not quite human but with a human subconscious. However, the issue falls apart with its execution. Obviously it makes sense that someone needs to be looking for him in order for “The Search” to be necessary and it is a likely candidate that the character that is looking for him would be John Constantine. However, the issue becomes a focus on Constantine and comes off track quickly from what it should be about: Swamp Thing.
Constantine has a suspicion that the recent terrorist attacks might have something to do with Swamp Thing. Apparently these events happened in Brightest Day, and having not read that series I was pleased to find that I wasn’t hampered reading this story at all because of footnotes and recaps. Constantine decides his best bet is to enlist the help of Batman, the World’s Greatest Detective.
Batman and Constantine have some decent banter over the spread of three or four pages but this is where the issue became too much about Constantine. I understand that Constantine and Swamp Thing are two characters that will be engrained back into the DCU when the reboot occurs so why not use this mini-series to further that purpose. However, it was overkill to the point that the scenes took away from both Swamp Thing and Batman. Not only does Constantine break into the Batmobile but he also manages to render Alfred unconscious. Batman’s reactions aren’t exactly what I would expect either as he just keeps demanding to know who the man is and what information he has. It just felt really odd that Batman would behave this way with Alfred knocked out cold.
Eventually Constantine figures out how to eliminate one of the possibilities of Swamp Thing’s whereabouts which sets up the next issue nicely.
Some of the problems with this issue are the page and panel layouts. Twice I turned the page thinking I had somehow missed one of the pages. For example, Constantine is wrapped up in a plant, yelling for someone to run away and the next page we see both characters fleeing the building. It was strange. There is something to be said for moving the issue along quickly but this was jarring.
Another problem with this issue is the focus. Just take the cover for example. In the promos we had Hawkman on the cover. Well he’s been replaced by Zatanna which works out well because Hawkman isn’t in the book and Zatanna is. However, Superman is still on the cover and he isn’t even mentioned in this issue. Add in the strange use of Batman and the overwhelming attention paid to Constantine and I have a hard time mustering up the energy to care about Swamp Thing and this is supposed to be a mini-series about him. Perhaps if I was a fan of Constantine I wouldn’t have an issue with this direction but I am not a fan of the character.
I am a huge fan of Swamp Thing and his legacy. This story brings a lot of that history into the issue and I wonder if those that have never read Swamp Thing would be lost, intrigued or overwhelmed. However, the comic book seemed to be in a rush to have Constantine telling jokes with Batman rather than laying out a story in a logical fashion. The elements are all here, but perhaps things will gel better in the next issue.
2 out of 5 Geek Goggles