(Keep in mind: this reflects the week of 9/5.)
I think we can all agree: Action Comics #0 is an instant classic. It is a super treatment of the superhero; it is the promise of the New 52 come true–finally. And, all hyperbole aside, what could be my favorite sequence since Electra’s death at the hands of Bullseye rests inside.
But it’s not my book of the week.
See: Swamp Thing #0 was next on the pile.
It sat there innocently, waiting, waiting. It let me bask in the brilliant moment that Morrison manufactured just for me, a superfan waiting for his Superman. When it came time to test its spine, I lifted the comic carefully, set it in my right hand, and peeled back Paquette and Fairbairn’s powerful cover with a pinch of my left.
I cracked the spine to find an unexpected setting: a snow-covered Canadian forest. Hmm. Our initial narrator? A sweet young girl heroically searching for “the green man”; she needs him, she tells us, to save her dying town. The Good Samarathing, circa 1897, finds her, shelters her, and feeds her the flora of his own body; in that, he proves himself to be more than a simple Good Samarathing: he’s a Christanthemum! While nursing her back to health, he discovers that she is closer to death than he could have ever anticipated; it’s just not to her own that she’s close to–it’s to his.
Her change to Anton Acane–a rabid Rotweiller, indeed!–is horrific; it’s enough to make your skin crawl–off! The poorly stitched together panels are well done and add a sprinkle of abhorrence to the transformation and to the overall tone of the story.
What really cemented this Satanically sexy book as my favorite for the week is on page 6–6–6: as Arcane sinks his scraggly teeth into the swampy savior’s skull, Snyder snakes his way into my unsuspecting heart. Devilishly delicious!
This “enjoyable” murder leads directly to the introduction of the more familiar Alec Holland, a scientist with–according to Arcane–a “staggering” relationship with the Green. This relationship may be responsible for the miracle formula he’s created from an “acidic fruit of [a] little creeping vine”: a formula with the power to “change the world” and to “save lives”–to conceivably renew a fallen Eden. The nod to God is hard to miss; the connection to Christ is nailed with the final splash–which is actually, with Holland’s hand emerging from the water, the opposite of a splash.
Well before Holland’s resurrection–before his death, even–Snyder and Kano bravely deliver, perhaps, the most disturbing page ever stapled into a mainstream comic: on page 14, Arcane proudly describes having “killed [babies] in their cribs,” and the images unapologetically show how it was done–all the way down to the dying baby’s quivering hands. The sequence, while vile, is terrifyingly effective: my stomach turned and turned, even after I turned the page.
The rest of the story runs a rather expected route: Arcane, wearing the flesh of others, gets close enough to send Holland to a fiery end–or so it would seem to the impatient amongst the members of the Parliament of Trees. The layouts during this stretch are all over the place and happen to create a visual experience that is far more violent than the story itself. Doesn’t matter, though. This time around, awe trumps awkward.
And, in terms of my ranking my pile of books for the week, I never would have guessed, but I can admit with glee and such, rotting malefaction trumps a magical Action–but not by much.