Swamp Thing Episode #101, Pilot – Review

With the launch of DC Universe streaming service, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros., have produced a few original programs that feature exclusively on the digital platform. Along with its live-action series “Titans” and “Doom Patrol,” the highly anticipated “Swamp Thing” has finally been released this month. Having been announced last year along with “Doom Patrol,” this is the second attempt to bring the character of Swamp Thing to the small screen. Since the character’s creation in 1971 by writer Len Wein (Marvel’s Wolverine) and artist Bernie Wrightson (“House of Secrets”), the character has appeared in two low budget films in the 1980s, a live-action series on the USA Network that ran from 1990 to 1993, and a short-lived animated series in 1991, with an accompanying action figure line. For the most part, the dramatic adaptations of Swamp Thing have been disappointingly B-grade and overly campy attempts to truly represent the character, until now.

Upon the release of the first episode of “Swamp Thing” on DC Universe, the popular humanoid-plant creature returns to it’s horror roots and its intended incarnation in this dark and dramatic web television series. Created and executive produced by screenwriter Gary Dauberman, comic book writer Mark Verheiden and director James Wan (“Aquaman“), this new show hopes to do justice to one of the most unusual character’s of the DC Comics Universe.

When Dr. Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) of the CDC returns to her hometown of Marais (pronounced Ma-ray), Louisiana, to investigate a mysterious and deadly epidemic that is spreading throughout the bayou town, she meets an eccentric scientist named Alec Holland (Andy Bean), who is also trying to find the source of this swamp-borne pathogen. While Abby reconnects with her old friends, including Matthew Cable, a police officer and Liz Tremayne, a local bartender and reporter, she also runs into the mother of her college friend, Shawna Sunderland, who still bears a grudge against her for her involvement with her daughter’s accidental death.
As Abby and Alec join forces to find the cause of the disease, they find the decayed body of Coyle, a local fisherman, whose daughter has been hospitalized after contracting the sickness, who has been covered inside and out with strange plants and vines. As they come closer to finding out the origin of the contagion, Abby learns that Alec was once a prominent biologist, who was disgraced by the scientific community. But when Alec gets too close to finding out the truth, he is murdered by an unknown assailant and left for dead in the murky swamp.

While many are familiar with the character of Swamp Thing, especially due to his resurgence in the 1980’s with the work of British comic book writer Alan Moore (“Watchmen”, “V for Vendetta”), he has been rarely seen in the DC Comics universe since his series relaunched as part of the “New 52” from 2011 to 2015, plus a six-part miniseries in 2016, written by Len Wein and art by Kelley Jones (one of my favorite artists). The DC Universe service seems ripe to debut the latest incarnation of the character. Although unfortunately, both the creators died in 2017, this show will hopefully honor their creation and present a fresh, new perspective on a character that has been through so many incarnations over the years. And with visionary horror director James Wan (“Saw,” “The Conjuring”) on the production team, along with character/creature actor Derek Mears (“Friday the 13th”,”Predators”) portraying the Swamp Thing creature, this dark and suspenseful show is sure to blossom forth. The vine and plant CGI effects are impressive, and the first episode did a good job of building the main characters, particularly Abby and Alec. The transformation/creation sequence for Swamp Thing was considerably disturbing and shocking, but very effective. I am looking forward to the continuation of this series by next Friday.

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