Saturday, December 12, 2009

What I'm reading right now

There are few unequivocal truths in the universe, but here are two of them:

1) I will never be as good a writer as Alan Moore

2) I will never have a beard as scary as Alan Moore's

I hesitate not in the slightest at either one of these statements.  In all seriousness, I think of Alan Moore as the greatest comic book writer in the medium's history.  I am an absolute captive to Neil Gaiman's writing, and it can't be denied what Will Eisner has done for the industry, but Moore is the writer who, for me, sits at the top of the field.  I think he has the body of work to back up such a claim, as well, with Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell on his resume.  So when DC Comics (through their Vertigo imprint) released the first volume of Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing collection, I bought it right away, and it has not disappointed.

The Swamp Thing might best be remembered for the live action television series that lasted three seasons in the early 1990s, but the book with Moore at the helm is the definitive take on the character.  I mean, think about it - the character is called "The Swamp Thing".  Literally, "the thing from the swamp."  A guy gets blown to hell and lands in a swamp...and becomes a super hero.  With all due respect to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, creators of the character, what?!  This is the origin tale?  Not that there aren't tons of unbelievable creation stories out there (nearly every Marvel character from the 1960s should have died of radiation poisoning), but this one just seems silly.  Moore took that concept and made it work.  Swamp Thing wasn't Alec Holland, it was just "a plant that was trying its level best to be Alec Holland."

Horror comics usually are simply filled with gore or just have some ironic twist to them; Swamp Thing is genuinely frightening.  Super hero books are sometimes vapid and shallow; Swamp Thing is layered and meaningful.  Comics from the 1980s are often lackluster; Swamp Thing is fulfilling.  From Moore's first issue, you can tell that he has a plan, and he sticks to it throughout.  Supporting characters add meaning to the overall story.  Guest stars, including the Demon and the Justice League, are used appropriately and respectfully.  But through it all, you know that this is the Swamp Thing's book, even when he/it doesn't appear much in some issues.  All in all, it's a breathtaking piece of work.

If you couldn't tell, I am in love with this book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

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