BF Awards 2011 - Best Debut Book: Swamp Thing

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Writer Scott Snyder, with the invaluable assistance of artist Yanick Paquette, has done something this year that so many creators haven’t been able to do for decades. He’s made Swamp Thing a must read. Not since Alan Moore, and arguably Rick Veitch, has the character successfully struck a chord with an audience so soundly.

Stemming from the Great DCU Re-launch of 2011, Swamp Thing was admittedly a B-tittle in many readers’ minds. A “give-it-a-shot” type of book, hiding in the shadows of others like Justice League, Batman and Action Comics. It was assumed it would only be a matter of time before it got unceremoniously cancelled, much like the other ‘see what sticks’ books from the reboot. At least that’s what some of us thought. Luckily, no one told Scott Snyder.

Coming off (and continuing, technically) his epic run on Detective Comics, Snyder embraced this character and its vast-- sometimes confusing-- history and spun gold in what quickly established itself as a horror book in the middle of the DCU. There’s no two ways about it, Swamp Thing is a frightening read.

No stranger to the genre (American Vampire, Severed), Snyder has been able to rebuild Alec Holland’s status quo while still keeping much of the title’s previous continuity intact. No small feat when dealing with some of the most revered comic book creators’ works.

Along for this macabre and magical ride is Yannick Paquette (Batman, Inc.), going above and beyond to unsettle the stomach of every reader that flips these pages. It’s not every day that you see a small boy that can talk to ‘dead matter’ manipulating a slaughterhouse full of freshly butchered cattle and swine to do his bidding. There is some seriously twisted action at play here as Snyder (with the help of Animal Man writer, Jeff Lemire) slow builds to a massive war between the Green, the Red, and Rot that can very well be the end of the universe as we know it.

In just five months, Snyder and company have not only brought back a beloved character, once considered untouchable in the DCU proper, but they have also made it one of the most relevant books across the publisher’s line. In one fell swoop, a well written, finely crafted and tightly plotted horror book, starring a forgotten icon, burst into comics shops and wowed us all.

Swamp Thing has been voted best debut book this year because it’s taken us all by surprise. It’s proven to be more than just the odd title that could, but a beacon for what is creatively possible in this medium. A cross-blend of genres and styles that is respectful of the past, while at the same time, bursting with original possibilities.

I could easily spend another 500 plus words describing some of the horrifying violence, beautiful nature and original ideals that are contained in this book. The level of detail in the narrative and pace of the series is at times break neck (literally) and others as slow as grass growing. It all flows right and eerily organic. Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette have not only delivered the best debut book of 2011, but perhaps the most anticipated of 2012.

Without slipping into puns, Swamp Thing is the kind of magical book that immediately planted roots in its readership. A very vocal and sharing readership who weren’t content with the possibility of this new and epic Swamp Thing being taken away before it’s time. Like a grass roots campaign that happened overnight and without provocation, Swamp Thing has reentered the pop culture lexicon with the passion and verve rarely seen in a “B-list’ book.

Full list of the 2011 Broken Frontier Award winners

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