Best Shots Advance Reviews: SWAMP THING, THE BOYS

Best Shots Advance Reviews

 

Swamp Thing #7

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairburn

Lettering by Travis Lanham

Published by DC Comics

Review by Lan Pitts

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Swamp Thing, you are amazing.

Having essentially been depowered by the Parliament of Trees, and Abigail Arcane captured by the force known as Sethe, Alec Holland has to face some hard choices and will confront even harder challenges that soon lie ahead. Scott Snyder and company are taking the first step into a world we haven't seen since Alan Moore's take on the character, and even elevates it from there.

Right off the bat, we're diving into some deep territory here. Holland is being confronted by the Parliament and trialed on basically being too weak, from there he has to earn the right to be a force of nature again, but his reasons differ from that of the Parliament and makes him all that much more human. Snyder does not shy away from usual style of using heavy narration, especially here to demonstrate the transformation of becoming a swamp thing entails, but it's actually much less from his Batman work in the past and present. Here, it's mainly a conversation between Holland and the Trees about the good of man, and his weakness. It's pretty thought provoking, and really gives you an idea of who Holland/Swamp Thing is as a man, monster, and hero. Without knowing much Swamp Thing mythos, everything is almost spelled out for you and potential new readers could jump right in.

Now seriously, Yanick Paquette is a powerhouse here. Using vines and a quasi-nouveau floral pattern to break up the panel construction is still ingenious and gives you a sense of mysticism and sets it apart from the rest of DC's catalog right now. On top of that, you have some brilliant, yet horrific, imagery of Swamp Thing's world that really echoes his horror roots. It's gory, but visually striking. Paquette is going near J.H. Williams III territory here. Nathan Fairburn is quickly becoming one of my favorite colorists in the field. His rich pallet saturates Paquette's lines, but still distinguishes itself from the characters and environment and doesn't take away from what Paquette does here, but shines it up to perfection. His use of reds and yellows here are just golden and really makes the greens stand out all the much more.

If you've been wondering about getting into Swamp Thing but not exactly sure where to start, I say at the very least try here. The one flaw here is that it's all set up for the things to come, but you get the gist of what's going on and what's at stake. Snyder hasn't compromised the character's history, but condensed it to make it more tangible for readers unfamiliar with the Swampy universe.

 

The Boys #64

Written by Garth Ennis

Art by Russ Braun and Tony Aviña

Lettering by Simon Bowland

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Sometimes a sense of humor is a revolutionary act.

While Garth Ennis has sometimes meandered a bit with his overall plotting in The Boys, you could never say he's been anything other than ruthlessly consistent in terms of his tone: dark, disgusting laughs tied alongside a sort of abrasive camaraderie and an ultra-cynical look at superheroic power. And 64 issues into it, that sense of humor has suddenly — perhaps even surprisingly — taken a turn for the epic, as Ennis's band of anti-superhero spooks are put on the front lines as the caped crusaders suddenly have gone rogue.

Even though Ennis still has another eight issues to go before he wraps up this series, there's a real air of finality to this issue, as we build up to the Boys' inevitable showdown with the Seven, a corrupt, homicidal analogue for the Justice League. But as Ennis shows us the level of terror these superheroes have wrecked across the country, he does something interesting — he tempers it with a sort of nervous, resolute wryness. "They told me a promotion was in the cards if I held on long enough," Butcher says, as he's basically given the keys to America's entire military system. Of course, Ennis also goes way over-the-top, as well, complete with a photo collage of baby-eating, orgies and drug binges, but that's ultimately window dressing to an actual heart behind the story. These guys aren't just ultra-snarky badasses, but there's a sense of caring — of heroism, even? — that is finally starting to flicker into life. The laughs feel more like an attempt at comfort, a defiance at the gallows that actually heightens the tension and makes you wonder… how the hell are the Boys going to pull one off?

Artwise, Russ Braun is proving himself every bit the worthy successor to original series artist Darick Robertson. Braun's expressions aren't nearly as rubbery or over-the-top as his predecessor, but that's okay — these are scary times, where you have Aryan übermenschen like the Homelander glowering over people like an archangel with heat vision. There's a very real, very thought-out vibe to Braun's environments and compositions which really show both a large scale to the conflict, as well as a bit of claustrophobia, as if trouble could come out of the sky at any minute. Yet even with the constrictive atmosphere, Braun manages to slip in some funny gags to point out the absurdity of it all, particularly with a photo montage of depravity that includes the Homelander eating an actual baby, with just a totally blank look on his face. It's pitch-black comedy, but it's comic nevertheless.

That said, if The Boys has any weakness, it's internal continuity. If you haven't at least read the book on a casual level before now, just about every beat will sail clear over your head. (Even the characters themselves don't have much in the way of introduction or explanation here, so you better know who's who first.) Additionally, there will always be people who think that the violence, as fleeting as it is in this issue, is still way over-the-top (and those people wouldn't necessarily be wrong). That all said, even though this book preaches to the converted, it's a heck of a swan song for Ennis and Braun. It takes some serious cojones to laugh in the face of death, but cojones are what The Boys do best. 

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