Swamp Thing Winter Special #1
Written by: Tom King & Len Wein
Art by: Jason Fabok & Kelley Jones
Published by: DC Comics
Release Date: February 7, 2018
There are many special characters in DC Comics, but none of them compare to Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing Winter Special #1 is written to honor the co-creators of the character: Len Wein, who passed away last September, and Bernie Wrightson, who passed away last March. This 80-page issue consists of two stories. The first half of the issue is the main story titled The Talk of the Saints, written by Tom King with art by Jason Fabok. The second half of the issue is Len Wein’s final, unfinished Swamp Thing story titled Spring Awakening! with art by Kelley Jones. Both make for a lovely issue of Swamp Thing, and to tl;dr this quickly – it’s worth your money.
THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING FOR THIS REVIEW! DON’T SCROLL DOWN IF YOU HAVEN’T READ SWAMP THING WINTER SPECIAL #1!
The main story, The Talk of the Saints, follows Swamp Thing trudging through a blizzard carrying a young boy in his arms, trying desperately to save him. The snow is unrelenting and Swamp Thing is struggling to survive without the Green. He is physically weakened and unable to think clearly under the harsh environment. But whatever happens along the way, Swamp Thing is determined to save this boy.
Tom King is one of the best current talents in DC and the praise for his work has been pretty much consistent so far. His approach to Batman and Mister Miracle has been distinctly raw and human, something that proves to be refreshing in superhero stories. This approach fits best for Swamp Thing, fleshing out the warm human heart under the half-frozen lump of gigantic green. Swamp Thing and the boy forms a loving bond: something that, we somehow know, cannot possibly be this sweet without a price. There is uncertainty in the way that we don’t actually know how much time passes through the story. Yet, there is a looming sense of dread that ultimately delivers the tragic twist of the story. Becoming a monster and returning to the Green seems inevitable at the end. It’s a bittersweet tale of horror and heroism that is very appropriately honors the character.
Jason Fabok’s art is outstanding. His artistic take is a great variety to be added to the list of Swamp Thing artists, up there along with Bernie Wrightson’s. It’s different but beautiful that way. There’s not much drama or action in the story and many moments of solitude instead. Every moment in every panel is stunning, every little step the Swamp Thing takes is meaningful against the persistent blizzard even as we lose track of the time. As said in an interview, this is meant to be a story about anxiety. Fabok’s art takes us through this suspenseful yet quiet story at a steady yet unmeasured pace and successfully maintains this anxiety. When it ends, there is finally relief as the Green returns, though not without a tinge of moroseness which I love about Swamp Thing. This first story in overall makes for a wonderful tribute to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
The second half of the issue features Len Wein’s last story, Spring Awakening! which was meant to be the first of a new series and a continuation of his miniseries Swamp Thing: The Dead Don’t Sleep. Wein passed away before he could complete the lettering, so as mentioned in the letter from editor Rebecca Taylor attached in the issue, no one wrote Swamp Thing like Wein and they felt it best not to try. The story is presented without lettering through Jones’ art, followed by Wein’s original script in its entirety.
Obviously I can’t review this second story as a finished product, but Jones’ art is nothing short of stunning. It looks gorgeously bold and would have made a great horror miniseries that Wein wanted to have. Wein’s script at the end includes other DC characters appearances to tie the miniseries closer to the DC Universe. It would have made a great story for sure and it’s a shame that we have lost this legend too soon.
Swamp Thing: Winter Special #1 is true to its roots so that it resonates deeply with current fans and introduces it elegantly to new readers. I find very little flaw in this issue. If I have to mention one, it would be the slightly predictable end and a very small amount of dialogues that are just too blunt, but I don’t find it troubling or reductive to the story at all. It’s absolutely beautiful. My score for this issue is 9.5/10.
Swamp Thing: Winter Special #1 is out now at your local comic book stores and on digital.