Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mucking About #3 - Patchwork Man!

The third issue of Swamp Thing is a real stunner. It introduces a major character into the story and also supplies of the great emotional moments the story has yet produced.

The story begins minutes after the end of the last issue in the castle of Arcane where Swamp Thing seeks to use Arcane's lab to perhaps again rekindle his humanity and escape his swampy form. But his swampy form is too crude and rough to manipulate the sensitive lab equipment. Leaving in frustration he falls through the fragile floor but is saved from plunging into the depths by the arrival of a strange creature who resembles the Frankenstein creature a bit, but that safety is short-lived as Swamp Thing slips through the creature's mighty fingers and falls into the waters below. The story shifts to Matt Cable who has followed Swamp Thing into the Balkans and finds when he gets there a beautiful medico named Abigail Arcane who agrees to help Cable find the Swamp Thing in the castle of her uncle, the deceased Arcane. But due to the Patchwork Man's activity a fire erupts in the castle and it explodes seemingly killing anyone who might be there. The story shifts then to the Patchwork Man himself who turns out to have been Gregori Arcane, the brother of the wizard and the father of Abigail who was injured in a minefield and who was then transformed by his brother into the grotesque creature he is today. All he knows is the instinctive desire to return to his daughter. He encounters the Swamp Thing again along the way as well as the villagers along with Cable and Abigail. Swamp Thing and Patchwork Man fight but then join forces to save Abigail when their struggle results in her nearly falling to her death from a bridge. They work together to save her, but the creature who was once Gregori falls into the abyss and Cable allows Swamp Thing to leave though he pledges to continue his hunt. Abigail flies out of the village with him and unknowingly clinging to the wing is Swamp Thing himself.

The cast of characters in this drama grows as the introduction of Abigail Arcane adds an exotic beauty to the mix. Matt Cable remains a bit of a cliche, seeking revenge for his "friends" the Hollands who inexplicably he is convinced the Swamp Thing murdered.

But it is the shift of focus from Swamp Thing to the Patchwork Man which really gives this story its emotional punch. For the first time Swampy is presented with an opponent who can stand toe to root with him, and one who we actually root for. The evil of Arcane is evident in the previous issue but is heartfelt in this story which focuses on the results of his vile schemes.

Wrightson's artwork continues to impress, in fact improve as he offers up a tale which never strikes a false beat as it unfolds, a visual feast.

I will say that I cannot understand how Swamp Thing can hold onto that wing without dire consequences and without being detected. But sometimes you gotta' do what you gotta' do to keep the story moving.

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