Swamp Thing: New Roots #2
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Marco Santucci and John Kalisz
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Swamp Thing becomes a third party in a grim family drama in the follow-up issue of Swamp Thing: New Roots. Though still engaged in a monster-filled cat-and-mouse game with his new corporate enemies at Sunderland Foods, Swampy slows down a bit in this issue, sharing a table with a family known around his swamp. But like the title says, “everything eats and everything dies,” as the chase is made eerily personal here, highlighting writer Mark Russell’s commitment to fleshing out this new ongoing story.
Unfortunately artists Marco Santucci and John Kalisz’s keen action blocking from the first issue is missing here. In its stead however is a more emotive version of Swamp Thing, sharing the page with regular folk and providing a looming foil for the human characters. Santucci and Kalisz also sweeten the pot a bit with a few choice visual highlights of Sunderland’s villany, revealing more of their more weirder gambits to capture Swamp Thing. While not as showy and bombastic as the opener, Swamp Thing: New Roots #2 is a worthy follow-up for this new Swampy adventure.
In the wake of his attacks on Sunderland Foods, Swamp Thing just wants quiet, seeking solitude at the bottom of the swamp amid the murky waters. But for his trouble, he is literally reeled into a family drama when Guillaume Flaubert and his granddaughter accidentally hook him on their fishing lines. Being a reverent person of the swamp, Guillaume invites Alec to dinner, providing the issue a wonderful bit of visual comedy as Swamp Thing just sits and stares at the Flaubert family as they have supper.
These scenes also reveal the real bulk of Russell’s story for this issue. While he certainly takes his time tying this grounded family-based plot to the ongoing war with Sunderland, Russell makes a real effort to continue the “Tales from the Crypt” like vibe from the opening. To that end, he injects another dark turn into the plot, sending readers out with another moralizing morsel of plot glommed onto the ongoing narrative.
While this family drama takes away from the drive of the ongoing Swamp Thing versus Sunderland saga, I feel it grounds the plot in a way that stays true to the more classic interpretations on Swamp Thing, which usually found our hero pulled into a story he largely has nothing really to do with while working a supernatural problem. Tackling a corporation doesn’t exactly scream “supernatural,” but it is nice to see New Roots #2 looking to populate it’s real weird world with real-world people.
On the art side, New Roots #2 somewhat hems in artists Marco Santucci and John Kalisz. A more grounded plot means less of the fun horror film visuals that made the first issue pop, and that is a disappointment for the follow-up. But in place of the action, Santucci and Kalisz deliver a much more expressive, wryly comic take on Swamp Thing and how he moves among the world of humans. The aforementioned dinner scene is a great example of this as Santucci and Kalisz play the moment deadly straight, placing the hulking Swampy at the head of the table around a largely normal, hilariously well-lit family of humanoid figures.
They also do their best to add a weird jolt of creature feature horror to the issue in a montage of Swamp Thing trying to stay ahead of Sunderland hunters. He crashes through the swamp, evading a group of Sunderland goons, all leading freakish pig/human hybrids sporting giant metal collars like hunting hounds after the avatar of the Green. I wish the issue could have stayed on this sequence a bit longer, but again, Santucci and Kalisz detail this as just another day in the swamp, casting the scene in full sunlight and springing Swampy from the center of the montage page like a drive-in poster of old. It’s a fun bit of comic book schlock that Santucci and Kalisz play to the cheap seats. I just wish the whole issue had this kind of energy.
Though not as obviously pulpy as the opening issue, Swamp Thing: New Roots #2 sets the table nicely for the series going forward. Operating with the same dark, but self-aware tone as the opening and armed with more cinematic horror visuals, Swamp Thing: New Roots #2 stakes out new territory for Swamp Thing and the weird life he leads.