Comic Review – American Carnage #1 (DC Vertigo)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

“Welcome to the REAL America” Jennifer Morgan

Cover art by Ben Oliver (DC Vertigo)

I did not expect to pick up a comic book like this on the DC app store. We live in a highly partisan era and comic books should never be overlooked as a medium to explore the more uncomfortable tones we have to deal with this political climate. In fact, they have the potential to be a great medium to do so, able to deliver deeply personal stories backed up with art to depict distressing and challenging scenes that will leave you with a page open in front of you, needing to take a moment for it to sink in. Unlike books which lack the visual element or TV which moves at its own pace, the reader is in control of how long they take on each page, confronting each issue.

American Carnage does not shy away from contentious issues, and based on the first instalment, I applaud DC Vertigo for publishing this. I hope this series maintains its critical themes and stance it has set out with. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Story – Bryan Hill
  • Art – Leonardo Fernandez
  • Colour – Dean White
  • Lettering – Pat Brosseau
  • Cover – Ben Oliver

Agent Sheila Curry of the FBI has just witnessed the death of the prime suspect in her ex-partner’s murder, a man part of a far-right hate group who carried out a gruesome killing. The FBI are ordering the investigation to be closed, however Curry suspects links to a populist ‘libertarian’ celebrity/philanthropist who is leading a Trump-esque anti-establishment campaign with suspected ties to these far-right groups. Hill does not pull his punches. This comic sets up the far-right as the bad guys they are, and refers to the likes of Morgan as a potential ‘MAGA true believer’. Curry seeks the help of Richard Wright, an ex-FBI officer who lost his place on the force a few years before. He’s a mess, but he is good at what he does – infiltrate groups, become part of their fabric and report back. Curry wants him in to investigate Morgan.

Art by Fernandez and White (DC Vertigo)

A lot of the language used throughout this issue could have been ripped straight from angry right-wing Twitter nuts, extremist TV personalities or what you would expect to see in the Daily Mail comment section, which does prove uncomfortable reading at times. As Wright is wrapped up more and more into this world his disgust is unmissable in every panel. This is communicated through Fernandez’s art, who demonstrates a talent for expressing emotion through facial expression. There is a subtlety in his work, shown in panel after panel of interview showing the emotional pain on Curry’s face during the opening pages. Fernandez’s work is supported by White’s colours, providing a gritty tone while avoiding the standard brown and grey colour pallet seen in some series.

Final Verdict

This comic treats the issues involved with the gravity they deserve. It feels genuine and has the potential to be something special. It builds incredibly to a hell of a cliff-hanger, and I hope it sticks true to the serious tone it has set. I feel this would be lost if either magic or Mecha-Hitler are secretly behind this all. This is a story about modern right-wing extremists and their presentation within the media that feels way too real at this point in time.

This series is bound to receive some negative press by the worst parts of the internet, but that is a good thing. After all, if you’re challenging extreme right ideology, and pissing off Nazis, you’re doing something right.

Comic Review – Swamp Thing #1 (DC Comics)

Kit has taken over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I would rather spend one more minute as a man… than a million years as a plant…” – Swamp Thing

OK, time for me to confess one of my biggest comic book sins: I’ve never read Swamp Thing. It’s considered an absolute classic, one of the best comics inside and outside of the DC Universe. Although it is part of the DC Universe, Vertigo used to publish the comics, and their run on it lead to huge popularity. So, when DC published a new first issue for Swamp Thing this week, how could I say no? Going into this, I know virtually nothing about Swamp Thing, other than he’s a big green, powerful swampy guy.

Swamp ThingThis comic was written by Len Wein and drawn by Kelley Jones. To kick things off we have a very powerful front cover, Swamp Thing standing against a large moon in the night sky, the comic itself kicks off with an internal monologue from Swamp Thing, showing us where he lives, in Bayou Country swamp. I heard somewhere the human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour, colorist Michelle Madsen appears to make use of this, the colours look fantastic, Swamp Thing is green but looks incredibly detailed with the use of different shades. We get to know swamp thing in these opening panels, we’re treated to a quick fight with a hungry alligator and a quick flashback to show you how he become the thing he is today.

As a new reader, these panels were incredibly useful, it introduced me to Swamp Thing, his fighting style, some of his powers and personality and showed me enough of his backstory to know how he got his powers.

The story moves on from there, we’re treated to a visit from the Phantom Stranger, a mysterious man who Swamp Thing knows and appears to give a warning of something cryptic to come. There’s a few references to Swamp Things relationship with nature and its forces, again, very useful for a first time reader!

From here we’re introduced to the first main plot arc, Swamp Thing saves a man who, with his wife, were trying to find Swamp Thing to help find their son who went missing after a crazy professor experimented on him. He agrees to do so, telling them they may not like what he finds. I won’t say what’s happened, but yeah…. They definitely won’t like what’s happened…

The story introduces other supernatural forces battling against nature, with a literal battle. Again the art looks fantastic, especially on the proper establishing panel for Swamp Thing’s opponent.


Final Verdict

Well, I’m hooked. This is a fantastic first issue, and so far it’s living up to the hype. I could imagine a long term reader may be a little bored by the flash back, but it doesn’t take up too much of the comic.

Final Score – 9.5 Brackish Mires out of 10!