We know that Luthor knew about Glenmorgan’s plan to blow up the bullet train, because he used it to deliver Superman to the military. There’s also dialogue evidence indicating that Glenmorgan was involved in the plan to take Superman down. But that dialogue actually only indicates that Glenmorgan agreed to let the military herd Superman onto some properties he was anxious to get rid of anyway. We have no evidence that Luthor made any deal of any kind with Glenmorgan directly. In fact, we know that he didn’t. That deal was actually made by an odd little man with spindly limbs and an over-sized head. They’re calling him “Teetotal” over on the DC Boards (based on his refusal of a celebratory drink), and that’s too great a name not to use until his real one’s revealed.
Anyway. I’d been assuming that Teetotal was working for Luthor, but what if that’s not the case? What if he’s the one making the deals and doing the dirty work, with Luthor and Glenmorgan merely operating as clients to him? That makes him a much bigger player that I first thought, which in turn makes me wonder who the hell he really is. Well… So far in this opening arc, we’ve seen Luthor, Brainiac, and now Metallo. In the hierarchy of classic Superman villains, that really only leaves us two guys unaccounted for: Bizarro, who was really more nuisance than villain, and Mr. Mxyzptlk, who’s typically depicted as… an odd little man with spindly limbs and an over-sized head…
Considering Morrison’s perspective on higher-dimensional entities, that’s a terrifying prospect. Much as I like the idea of Luthor being a big enough super-genius to plot out this web of deceit, I think I like the idea of Mxyzptlk as some kind of evil quadruple-crossing imp, sowing the seeds of change and chaos, like Superman’s version of the Invisibles’ Mr. Quimper, even more.
But, you know. Like I said. I’m always wrong.
Still, though. Good funnybook.
Swamp Thing #3
by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette
This book, on the other hand, just keeps pissing me off. Sure, it’s got a nice opening, a pitch-black little gag that pays off with the kind of horrific inevitability that Alan Moore once brought to the title. Or that he would have brought to it, if he was a more obvious and slightly less interesting writer.
That sounds more harsh than maybe it should. Snyder’s tale of the boy in the plastic bubble isn’t bad. It’s just… not as good as the stuff Moore pulled off when he wrote his Swamp Thing story about damaged kids living in an institution. It’s more rote, falls back more on stereotypes, and is just more predictable in general. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison to make, but any Swamp Thing story that brings back Abby Arcane and takes place partially in a children’s hospital kind of BEGS that comparison. And creepy as it is, I’m sorry. This thing doesn’t hold a candle to that crazy-ass white monkey.
Of course, I’m predisposed not to like this issue anyway, because it introduces a concept that brings DC’s mystical life-force cosmology a bit too close to Geoff Johns’ Rainbow Lantern crap for my taste. Alan Moore (him again!) gave us The Green, the plant consciousness of the Earth, and somebody on one of the post-Grant-Morrison Animal Man runs gave us The Red, which is the same thing but for animals. Well, now Snyder’s giving us The Black, which is the consciousness of rotting dead things, and I’ve got problems with this idea top to bottom.
First of all, being rotten and dead would seem to preclude the presence of any consciousness at all. Rot isn’t any sort of animating force. It’s the absence of such, and giving it any kind of animating uni-mind doesn’t quite sit right with me. Snyder’s also trying to sell the Arcane family as avatars of the Black, which bugs me on a thematic level if nothing else. Abby Arcane was the bride of the Swamp Thing, after all, and her uncle Anton was connected to biological mad science, actually creating life in his laboratory, and then gaining demonic powers of creation after his death. Nothing about them screams “ROT!” to me, so it feels like Snyder’s trying to hammer a square peg into a round thematic hole.
But, whatever. Even accepting all that (which I will not do without one hell of a fight, I assure you), I simply cannot buy what Abby says about how she’s been resisting the Black’s influence: she’s been living in the swamp, where the Black has no power. Yeah, because nothing EVER rots in a freaking swamp!
And this is where the idea just completely breaks down for me. Setting up rot as the enemy of plants doesn’t make sense. It’s rot, after all, that returns nutrients to the soil that the plants need to survive. Lots of things rot in the swamp, which is what makes it such a good place for plantlife to thrive. So while no living thing wants to rot and die, they have to for the next generation to live. Plants and rot aren’t enemies so much as they’re locked into symbiotic stalemate. One can’t exist without the other, so any kind of fight between them is… kinda dumb.
But, hey. At least there was this page:
So the issue wasn’t a total waste of my three bucks. Yanick Paquette’s artwork in general, in fact, is very very nice. Still… I think Swamp Thing’s off the pull list as of now. Maybe I’ll go one-month-later digital with it. There’s still some decent horror stuff here, and for two bucks I may be better-able to overlook the thematic weaknesses.