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Swamp Thing's first promising reviews rise from the depths: 'Haunting, artfully gory'
Swamp Thing, the third live-action superhero series to come from streaming service DC Universe, refused to sink after a troubled production. Instead, it’s risen to the surface and given fans yet another screen adaptation of one of DC’s most famous (and famously weird) heroes and companions, like Abby Arcane.
Providing fertile ground for writers such as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, Swamp Thing is now being delivered to audiences by producer James Wan, director Len Wiseman, and writers Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman. Following in the footsteps of Titans and Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing is the first of the DC Universe shows to go deeply into one genre: horror. And the first reviews are promising.
But let’s allow the critics to speak for themselves:
Over at Collider, Vinnie Mancuso writes that the first two episodes are “a triumph on pretty much every level,” especially the “violence and rot.” Name-checking The Thing as an icon of gross-out body horror, Mancuso praises the show’s creepy factor and the general aesthetic that helps it stay grounded in its tainted earth. It’s gonna be a gross show — and that’s a very good thing. Though the other characters outside Swampy and Arcane can feel like “stock exposition vehicles,” there’s certainly enough already here to justify the “delirious, bloody good time.”
Charles Pulliam-Moore at io9 was equally sold, calling Swamp Thing "a complex, interconnected system of a story" that goes heavy on the horror and big on worldbuilding. By playing it slow, showing "haunting, artfully gory glimpses" of baddies before their big reveals, the show effectively establishes its genre identity. With strong writing and VFX work that makes the show feel like a "brilliantly executed B horror movie," the early stages of the show — at least — seem like they stuck the soggy landing.
Bloody Disgusting's Rafael Motamayor compares the show favorably to NBC's hit horror series Hannibal, saying that Crystal Reed's performance as Abby Arcane (and the early episodes' focus on her) allows for equal, interesting screen time to be shared between her and Andy Bean's Alec Holland. Motamayor's main issue with the show seems to be its relationship with the comic source material. Twisting origins together and combining characters makes for a Swamp Thing that's a bit unfamiliar for diehards, but a fresh and exciting piece of horror nonetheless.
Kyle Anderson at Nerdist explained that this distance from the comics — and from what audiences consider superhero TV in general — is what helps Swamp Thing find its footing as "a bona fide horror-mystery series without a cape in sight." Praising the slow-burn writing that helps both the scares and the entwined plotting, Anderson writes that focusing on the characters (and the world) outside of the Thing himself makes the show "the best new horror series to come around in years."
With that high praise sure to excite fans, Swamp Thing is already picking up a buzz on the way toward its May 31 release.