Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pull List Review: Swamp Thing #10

As they did whenever they wokred together on Detective Comics, Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla turn Swamp Thing into a full-fledged horror comic. Of course, it's always been more horror than superhero, but it seems especially true with Francavilla on art duties. While Paquette and Rudy have done excellent work and showed us some disturbing things, their issues have had more of a feel of a horrific adventure tale. Swamp Thing #10 shoots for a creepier, uglier, more terrifying sort of horror, and it absolutely succeeds.

The biggest component of that success is Francavilla's handling of Abigail Arcane in comparison to pretty much every other character we see. While her father Anton and her lover Swamp Thing are both larger-than-life, grotesque monsters, Abigail is not only more realistic in her appearance, but calmer, sweeter, more welcoming to the eye. The same is true when we see her as an infant. While her mother's rotting corpse looms enormously above her, baby Abigail is the very picture of childhood innocence and joy. This stark contrast helps to elevate the eeriness of the issue, and therefore enrich the horror of Anton Arcane's wicked plot.

Francavilla's colors are also extraordinary. It is his use of faded, dull greens that I admired most, or anyway noticed most immediately. Swamp Thing is weary and his health is failing, and the greens not only of his body but of the entire swamp reflect that. However, the varying shades and intensities of red that Francavilla utilizes are equally impressive, sometimes highlighting the love between Abigail and Swamp Thing, sometimes underlining Abigail's own fierce determination, but mostly serving to help us understand the terrible reality of Anton Arcane joining the fray.

The ending "reveal" is of course ruined by the cover, as well as having been forecast by the final page of the previous issue, but it is to Scott Snyder's credit that the ultimate effect of the issue doesn't suffer too greatly from this. The point of this issue isn't so much to just show us that Anton Arcane is back in action, but to display how powerful, evil, and frightening he is as a villain. So even though we don't share in Abigail's surprise when she sees her father, we do understand her absolute terror.

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