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JohnMcMahon

The Search for Swamp Thing

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BRIGHTEST DAY AFTERMATH: THE SEARCH FOR SWAMP THING #1

 

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Written by JONATHAN VANKIN

Art by MARCO CASTIELLO

Cover by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES

1:10 Variant cover by J.G. Jones

 

Following the events of Brightest Day, the new protector of Earth has been chosen. But one reluctant hero making his return to the DCU is trying to convince Batman, Superman and the others heroes of the DC Universe that this may not be a good thing, because he can see that things are not right and mankind’s brightest days are indeed over.

 

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Haven't read it yet, but Bleeding Cool have a comparison of all the changes made to the issue :

 

 

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/06/22/brightest-day-aftermath-and-lois-lane-and-the-resistance-two-dc-visions-of-britain/

 

 

And yeah, [ Spoiler : that was Chas, but they switched him at the last minute with a more slender, beardless figure. ]

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Well, that was... generic, painfully Dick-Van-Dyke-ish, cringe-inducing and made nearly all characters look bad/dumb/OOC (except Zatanna, I reckon, but give her time). Liked the alternate cover and the artwork was bland, problematic but not exactly rubbish, so I'll give this one a 3/10.

 

I do hope Ade graces us with one of his annotations, or he could simply list all the "britishisms" John uses.

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Ah, this will be a fun one to write up for the wiki.

 

Was Constantine in Flashpoint? Rich's writing was a bit vague in that Bleeding Cool article.

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I don't think he was, though it's early to tell, since there'll be more stuff coming over the next few months.

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I am going to read this now. Live on Straight to Hell.

 

I have the nicer of the two covers.

Ie the one by JG Jones.

 

Page 1

This has already been critiqued from the previews, but let us commend the plonkers that be for changing Chas.

I rather like the art on this page. I did an experiment today, picking up some comics from the DCU and looking inside.

Many of the pages I saw had garish art. And a Green Lantern.

 

Harlow dogs.

This is real.

 

Is the Chas reading an ipad of some sort?

 

"John Bloody Constantine" who also appears to be smoking a children's cigarette or "candy stick" as the PC brigade would have us call them.

 

"The Big Green Plonker" as in "you plonker, Rodney" (qv Only Fools and Horses).

Back when I was at school, plonker had equal status with pillock. ie a fool or idiot.

Plonker also means todger. Although you would be unlikely to call someone a "todger".

 

Only Fools and Horses, is probably the english cockney version of American Dad, but funnier.

This programme is where the term plonker was raised to modern english classic status.

 

I am now going to have my tea.

Page 2 follows shortly.

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As I've already mentioned, Only Fools And Horses are big in Serbia, have been for decades, so when I hear "Plonker", it's like, dunno, having the Batman saying "D'oh!" or "Respect my authoritah!" just to show us he's still American.

 

I look forward to seeing John explain to Wonder Woman the fine difference between Bollocks and The Dog's Bollocks, as seen in Keen Eddie/51st State.

 

 

And does anyone still call dogs "hounds" over there?

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I have the nicer of the two covers.

Ie the one by JG Jones.

 

They wanted $7.99 for that one at my shop, I'd have liked to have had that cover, but not for that price. Hell, i'm not even sure the actual comic itself is worth the $3 cover.

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Page 2

Kew Garden is real.

It is well worth a visit all year round, but especially in Spring, early Summer and mid-Autumn.

 

Hasn't JC met ST here before?

Back in Alan Moore's veggy sex days?

 

"I schooled him in how to act like a right proper elemental, back in bad old days".

Thus the syntax mangling of a cockernee phrasebook is visited upon our scouse friend.

 

"Bromance"

Fuck off.

 

"Bollocks" #1

 

"... I said when I seen what happened."

Top Cockneyism there.

This is not pronounced "seen" in the Midlands,but "sin".

I would not expect Mr Constantine to be at home with such a phrase.

 

"All spooky, like"

Okay I am going to stop highlighting these awkward uses of southern english, and will instead tell you when it sounds right.

 

"Oi you mossy old sod. You in there or what."

That's better.

 

I am on page 5 now, I think. The big two page splash one with the uglee sound effect.

Swamp Thing has, in fact, been clever enough to get one up on "Ol' Con Job". Not least by never referring to him as "Con Job".

 

If you want to make this comic more fun, play "SPOT THE SCAR, WITH JOHN CONSTANTINE".

 

The next page has more tortuous cockney banter than the entire Dick Van Dyke performance in Mary Pippins.

 

ARGH!!! Green Lant... oh it is a shoe advert.

The pint thing is less of a problem than the internal cockneylogue suggests.

 

Distracted again, I find myself in a Harlem Globe Trotters time travel story. It is ugly as sin,

 

Constantine inducing Batman into the Green is a horrid thing. Just as I was getting to like the interaction.

As mentioned previously, the "nasty piece of work" thing feels shoehorned in with a mallet.

 

Oh look. Zatanna. With beautifully crafted american footballs placed in her bustier.

Bollocks #2

 

Yeah, anyway, whatever.

It seems we have been here before (a few times if you have the first ST series final issues).

 

This is a wrong piece of work, ask anyone.

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And does anyone still call dogs "hounds" over there?

 

I have not heard the greyhounds referred to as "hounds" but hunting dogs are.

As it happens, going to the greyhound racing is mostly referred to as "going to the dogs".

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Yeah. i guessed as much that the the hunting dogs might still be hounds, or that it's something you might hear on the BBC after 6 PM.

 

And is "_______, like?" that much of a cockneyism? I've heard it many times before, sure, but John here sounds more like that chav girl from Misfits, using it so often.

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And is "_______, like?" that much of a cockneyism? I've heard it many times before, sure, but John here sounds more like that chav girl from Misfits, using it so often.

 

Originally Scouse, like, ennit.

But common among people of our generation.

 

I've mentioned before that it's fairly reasonable for folks to use some of these uncommon terms in a postmodern knowing sense.

Some of the bollockses and geezers* fit that bill.

 

(*as for Bleeding Cool's contention that only cockney's say geezer, perhaps they should venture out of London some time.)

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The way they wrote John's dialogue was so awful it made me mad.

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Awww...Chas doesn't look like a bumbling sidekick anymore.

 

The dialogue and script were just bloody cringe inducing. Bollocks!

 

I don't find it within John's character to drop pop culture references so regularly.

 

I love how John just pulled out random catch phrases like he was a automaton on auto-pilot.

"Who are you?"

"I'm a nasty piece of work, ask anybody."

"What do you want?"

"The name's John Constantine. I'm not the nicest bloke you'll meet."

"What? What's wrong with you?"

"I've seen things no man would ever wish on his worst enemy, guv."

"Jesus. Forget this guy. Let's go."

"The name's John Constantine. I'm a nasty piece of work. Bollocks!"

 

There's absolutely no continuity between the scenes. This is worse than early McFarlane Spawn. It's like Vankin just glued together random scenes.

Batman just kicked John for absolutely no reason...this is one of the most unintentionally funny comics I've read in a long time.

 

Yeah, this gets a 4. The plot doesn't seem so bad, but it's a bloody joke getting there. Bollocks!

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Awful dialogue. There should be a law against Americans writing British characters without official intervention. It seemed to get a bit better the further in I got, but that might be Stockholm Syndrome.

 

Disappointed to see that all the problems in the preview - the voiceover on page two making it look like a flashback, Chas (props to them for re-drawing him, even if the clothes look weird on someone who's not fat) just kind of appearing from nowhere, the two other guys reading newspapers around John etc etc - are still there though.

 

Actually, the blocking throughout the whole thing is really confusing. Look at the scene with the Gotham taxi cab; why is the robber off-panel when he's introduced? I thought that was supposed to be Constantine speaking through the window at first. And why is John apologising to the taxi driver? Is he supposed to have done a spell or something to make it stop? Likewise the Batmobile scene doesn't really work, as discussed elsewhere on this forum. At least he draws a good Batman.

 

But on the whole the plotting isn't quite as atrocious as I was expecting. Constantine's given a decent enough reason to track down Batman (what with the events of Moore's Swamp Thing still being in continuity), and Batman's got a good reason to call on Zatanna, so neither of those meetings seem too contrived or gimmicky.

 

I still think it relies far too much on unnecessary, flatly stated exposition, though, and the story isn't particularly evocative or compelling. There are two ways you could go with a re-introduction of JC: do the 'man of mystery' stuff again to make him into a strange and intriguing figure, or have him front and centre but put some effort into establishing and fleshing out his character and motivations. Vankin doesn't really do either, so we end up with a shallow collection of Constantine tics with all his cards laid out on the table. The only hint at mystery is the bit where Zatanna hints at an unhappy end to her relationship with Constantine.** It reads like a minor story featuring a well-established DCU character, not a brand new introduction to one of the most interesting magicians in comic books. I'd love to have seen what someone like Carey would've done with this.

 

Also: I'm not sure the bit at the end makes any sense. Swamp Thing was okay when he was a vegetable with a copy of Alec Holland's mind, but now he's a vegetable that has the original thing inside him he's a threat to everyone? That doesn't make sense. What's the difference between Alec Holland's soul and an exact replica of Alec Holland's soul?

 

EDIT: Oooh, a poll! Hmm, probably a four. I was going to give it a five because it's really more mediocre and unimaginative than actively bad, but then I remembered how awful Marco Castiello's storytelling is and dropped it a point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* We're about three Crises along since he left the DCU, so there's no reason why this couldn't be treated like a completely fresh start with a 'new' character.

 

** Which is something I'm interested to see expanded on, here or in Justice League Dark. Although I always liked the old set-up that they were still (slightly flirty) friends who'd just decided that they weren't really right for each other. It seemed like a pleasingly grown-up, angst-free take on their relationship.

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That was an ugly read - surprised Jonathan struggled so badly with the voice of Constantine given his stint as Hellblazer editor, when it comes to English colloquialisms maybe less is more Mister Vankin! He seemed particularly enamoured with the word 'bloke', felt like he was using it in lieu of fullstops by the end of the comic.

 

James has done a good job deconstructing the frankly awful storytelling, so I won't linger on that.

 

Chas appears to be a more literal sidekick this time out, the couple of references to his IT skills stuck an odd chord but that's probably down more to my familiarity with his Vertigo counterpart than anything else.

 

If you'll forgive me for nerding out a little, I always though John should be a sort of Batman to Wayne's Gordon, appearing and disappearing at will - dispatching wisdom and vanishing back into the night. Vankin tried a little of that but it felt very flat, not sure why John did anything to Alfred, didn't help his case at all - seemed like a dumb move to be honest.

 

So a disappointing return to the DCU proper for John Constantine as far as I'm concerned.

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If you'll forgive me for nerding out a little

 

No chance, nerd.

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While the comic sounds absolutely dire, your reviews are top-notch. Great work all around, guys!

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Imagine how much more satisfying it would've been if the Batman bit had been set in the Batcave; Batman's analysing something at his computer, while Alfred goes off to get something (another tree sample, say) and steps into the shadows. There's a pause, then John constantine steps right out of them, carrying Alfred's tray with the tree sample on it. Batman hears that John's footsteps are different from Alfred's, whips around and does the whole confrontational thing.

 

John looks way more badass and crafty, there's a more plausible reason for him to knock out Alfred (he doesn't want anyone but him and Batman to find out about Swampy) and John looks less like a punching-bag. It also gets rid of the pointless taxi bit. Not explaining how Constantine found and accessed the Batcave is a bigger and more impressive take on him appearing in the Batmobile, and would be a bit more atmospheric to boot.

 

And scratch what I said before about Vanking only having two options (mysterious vs. character-based) when dealing with John's reintroduction. There's some mileage, I think, in showing the disparity between what Constantine does 'behind the scenes' and how he appears to others when he's putting on a show. If that's what Vankin was trying to do in this issue, the business in the taxi really took away from that. You need a clean break to ramp up the mystery. Constantine wants to meet Batman, then suddenly he's in the Batcave. How did he do that? He's not telling. Especially to the reader.

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... surprised Jonathan struggled so badly with the voice of Constantine given his stint as Hellblazer editor, when it comes to English colloquialisms maybe less is more Mister Vankin! ...

That.

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