Swamp Thing by Brian K. Vaughan, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The first thing to be aware of is that the protagonist of this book is Tefé Holland, daughter of Swamp Thing, and the titular character is only in the book for a few frames of flashback. This has the advantage of making for a confused and tormented lead character, a sort of coming-of-age element. Tefé struggles with who she is, and this leads to some wonky behavior. At times, she doesn’t do what would be expected of a superhero, but at other times she does, and this makes her character feel constantly off-kilter. One doesn’t straight away develop an affinity for the character, or – if one does – it comes and goes as she responds to varied situations in various ways. However, this seems to be intentional, a reflection of the fact that she doesn’t know if she’s the protector of the plant world, of humanity, of both, or of neither. She’s at once a pretty and sweet young woman and a terrifying god-like Elemental. She has a couple of “sidekick” characters, Barnabas and Pilate that help lend humanity and provide contrast (given the hardcore nature of these two men, they tend to make Tefé seem even more extreme as they are the ones to talk her down.)
While the Swamp Thing and its extended character-verse is heavy with environmental message, the book is not written to bludgeon the reader with rebukes or preach to the choir. It keeps the lessons subtle enough that I didn’t feel the book swerving into preachy mode, and it remains entertaining throughout.
I enjoyed this volume. It can feel a little disjointed and might read more smoothly for someone who’d read previous Swamp Thing series, but with attentive reading, one can certainly follow the action. (Another potential advantage of it focusing on the daughter character.) [FYI- This is the third of seven series.]
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