Remember when comics were fun? Before Hollywood figured out how to turn our favorite nerdy pastime into multi-million dollar franchise events? All you needed for a great comic was a fun, action-packed story paired with equally fun and exciting art. You didn’t need it to tie in to a huge multi-year company “plan”. It could be dark, but never lost its sense of humor. Want to experience that again?
Look no further than the recent 6-issue mini-series, Swamp Thing: The Dead Don’t Sleep by writer Len Wein (co-creator of Swamp Thing!) and the astounding art of Kelley Jones.
Len Wein brings the old-school story telling with a fun, guest-filled and exciting story. While a pretty grim tale, it’s full of great light moments between characters keeping the story running at a quick enjoyable pace.
That brings us to Kelley Jones. I must confess I’m a HUGE fan of his work and have bought many books solely to drool over his art. He’s best known for his long run on Batman – and he most certainly ranks as one of the greatest artists to ever drawn the dark knight. That said, his freakish forms and anatomy mate perfectly with the famous muck monster.
Bernie Wrightson (the other co-creator of Swamp Thing) is an obvious influence, yet Jones has a style all his own that helps make his work timeless. Many artists have styles which become associated with a period of time (think Buscema’s 70’s, Byrne’s 80’s or Jim Lee’s 90’s); Kelley’s work is so original it defies that time stamp – which makes it all the more perfect for Wein’s storytelling.
What truly makes this book so great though isn’t Len’s throw-back style or Kelley’s eye popping visuals, it’s how well Len and Kelley work together. That’s what makes our hobby so great. It’s not just the writer or just the artist. It’s what they create together.
As I said before, Wein’s story of dark magic and deception knows how to balance dark and light very, very well, something that Jones also excels at (see his THE HAMMER). Fans of Sam Raimi’s horror work (see ARMY OF DARKNESS) take note. You’ll dig this book.
The horror is horror, and Len allows for the natural black humor to emerge…the way it should be. – Kelley Jones
We were able to get a taste of their work together in 2015’s Convergence: Swamp Thing (a short two-issue micro-series featuring Batman and Swampy). Unfortunately DC hasn’t reprinted that story, so you’ll need to hit up your LCBS and grab copies.
So what exactly is this story about? Well, I hate spoilers so you won’t find any here, but in a nutshell Alec Holland gets the chance to rid himself of his moss encrusted form and as can be expected things don’t go as planned. Some heavy hitters in the mystical DC Universe show up and they, along with Alec Holland, need to save the world. Seriously, if you dig old-school Swamp Thing just buy this book. You won’t regret it.
Next up for Kelley Jones…a return to Batman with the 6-issue mini BATMAN: MASTER OF FEAR as old pointy-ears takes on the Scarecrow! Also in 2017, Jones and Wein team up for another Swamp Thing tale – YES!
Swamp Thing: The Dead Don’t Sleep trade paperback releases next Wednesday, October 12th.
Kelley Jones Original Cover Artwork