The fourth volume of Swamp Thing, the third under the Vertigo banner, was kind of a reset button.

Swamp Thing – Bad Seed by Andy Diggle, Enrique Breccia, Martin Breccia, Nick Napolitano, and Phil Balsman sees Abby, Alec, and John Constantine try to stop a horrible confrontation between Swamp Thing and Tefé Holland. Yes, you read that correctly. Alec Holland and Swamp Thing as two separate characters in this one. Though, when you think about it, it does make sense.

This story takes the ending from the second volume of Swamp Thing by Millar, Hester, & co., as Swamp Thing had become essentially a god with dominion over all of the elements of the Earth, and the brash adventures if Tefé and her changes to the world in the third volume three by Vaughan, Camuncoli & co., tossed in a bit of the Red from Animal Man and old nemesis, and spins it into an atmospheric bit of horror. Redefining the elemental status of the world and asking some interesting questions about family, loyalty, and dedication, especially in the face of mind-shattering terror.

And Diggle writes a mean and funny Constantine.

Creepy, ain’t it?”

Swamp Thing - Bad Seed

Enrique Breccia’s artwork is exquisite.

I mean, that’s to be expected from someone with the longevity of his career and having worked previously with his own legendary father, Alberto, but it still feels like an understatement. And an incredible discovery each time you look at his work. His horror artwork for North American markets, here and in Lovecraft, is stunning. The depth of shading adds amazing texture to the nature and characters. His faces are unique and expressive. His Swamp Thing an imposing figure with detail that reminds me of Richard Corben.

The Breccia family tradition of new generations of great artists continues further with Enrique’s son, Martin, providing colours. There’s a lush darkness to the colour tones, blending a variety of earth tones for Alec’s quest and more blues, purples, reds, and blacks for Tefé. It adds to the overall creepy atmosphere to the story.

The lettering from Nick Napolitano (for the first issue) and Phil Balsman (for the remaining issues) carries on much of the style laid out originally by Gaspar Saladino and John Costanza. In terms of the colour and shape of the unique word balloons at least. There’s a different quality to the line weight of their letters, but you get used to it. It is a bit odd not to regularly see the ellipses in the Swamp Thing dialogue, though that might well have been the script, not their choice.

Can’t I just be a person?”

Swamp Thing – Bad Seed by Diggle, Breccia, Breccia, Napolitano, and Balsman tidied up the loose threads from the end of volumes two and three of the series. It presented its own take on the Swamp God from the end of volume two, Tefé being corrupted, and an epic confrontation between the two. It worked to put part of the genie back in the bottle and deliver a new old-ish status quo for simpler horror stories without the Moore Question hanging over it again. Personally, I think it worked.

Diggle only did that first arc, but the remainder of volume four was in capable hands. Will Pfeifer and Richard Corben did a solid guest arc, then Joshua Dysart came on board as regular writer until the series close. He teamed with Breccia as the regular series artist, with guest bits from other artists like Dean Ormston, Jock, and Timothy Green II. It was definitely a solid horror book that I feel often gets lost when looking at Swamp Thing series.

Swamp Thing - Bad Seed

Classic Comic Compendium: SWAMP THING – BAD SEED

Swamp Thing – Bad Seed
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Enrique Breccia
Colourist: Martin Breccia
Letterer: Nick Napolitano & Phil Balsman
Publisher: DC Comics – Vertigo
Release Date: March 3 – August 4 2004 (original issues)

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!