Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Swamp Thing Vol. 6 - Reunion

Swamp Thing Vol. 6 - Reunion
By Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben and Rick Veitch

The end of the sixth volume of Alan Moore's legendary Swamp Thing run is, in fact, The End.

Oh, the series went on. There was critically acclaimed work that followed, including by the excellent Rick Veitch (Can't Get No), but this truly feels like the end of a saga.

Volume six caps off everything Moore built and created starting with volume one, and it does so with as much inventiveness and experimentation as when he started. Swamp Thing is in deep space, coming in contact with an array of unusual cultures on his journey back to Earth. The tales here may not be as strong as what came before -- I did not find the stories here as engaging -- but I appreciated Moore's continued willingness to experiment even as he neared the end of his time on the book. A spaced out psychedelic text story told from the point of view of a massive organic machine, for instance, did not engage me as a reader, but I admire the fact that this team took chances even at this late stage of the game. It would have been easy to coast at this point, to take it easy and finish out their run, but they weren't content to do so. That's the mark of a great creator.

Through these space tales Moore messes around with viewpoint and style again and again. When it works, it works. Really liked the Adam Strange story and REALLY liked the Green Lantern tale on the world with sentient plants. What a disturbing mess that incarnation of Swamp Thing was! Thousands of lifeforms fused into one massive, crazed Swamp Thing!

There are two non-Moore stories here. Normally that might be a knock against a collected edition, but not here. Stephen Bissette and Rick Veitch each turn in a tale, and both are excellent efforts that fit nicely with the tone set by Moore. If you removed the credits many readers wouldn't notice (though some would). They're not quite as effortless as Moore's work, not as graceful or refined, but geez, whose is? Both are excellent and well worth inclusion here.

Alan Moore has been criticized by some as being bad at endings, but that's not an issue here. This is a great, entirely appropriate end to his run. It feels like an end, THE end; like the saga he began several years prior had reached its natural finish and that this character's story had come to a close for good. An easy place for other writers to pick up with their own stories, yes, but really ...

This is The End.

Overall this run was amazing. I wasn't as drawn into this final batch of stories as the earlier stuff (nothing to do with the space theme, either, which I liked), but that's not because they were bad, it's because the other stuff was so extraordinarily good. Reading this only solidifies my view that Alan Moore is the greatest writer in comics.

An earlier version of this review was originally posted at IMWAN.com.

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