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Swamp Thing, The Violent, Shaman, Wendigo: This Week in Comics #7

From resurrected Babe Ruth, to down-and-out Vancouver parents, these are the best comics of the week.

One of the best comics this week, Swamp Thing #3, harkens back to a time when comics were so heavily scrutinized that a special group was created to “self-censor” the industry. The Comics Code Authority, formed in 1954, grew out of parental panic that the books their kids were reading were filth. Brought on in great part by the bloody horror and crime comics of E.C. Comics, the Code insured that a comic met their standards of decency. Though many companies chafed at the strictness of the Code, it was a way for the comics industry to self-regulate, and keep the government out of their books. Today, all comics companies have abandoned the Comics Code Authority, and the Code’s generally looked at as a smudge on the history of comics, but what would have happened if the government of the 1950s felt they had to step in? This week’s best comics feature down-and-out parents trying to survive in Vancouver, the aforementioned Swamp Thing trying to become human again, a resurrected famous baseball player, and an adaptation of the film Wendigo.

The Violent #3

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Cover for The Violent #3. Illustrated by Adam Gorham with colors by Michael Garland. Photo courtesy of Image Comics.

Illustrated & co-created by Adam Gorham Written, lettered & co-created by Ed Brisson, coloured by Michael Garland. design & logo by Tom Muller.

About as gritty and “real life” as a comic can get, The Violent features Mason, Becky, and their toddler Kaitlyn as a down-and-out family trying to get by in Vancouver. Mason’s an ex-con, Becky’s an ex-addict, and they’re both trying to turn over a new life to give Kaitlyn a good life. Few comics deal with serious issues like drug abuse and violent crimes like The Violent, but aside from the struggles of kicking the habit and fighting off thugs from the past, this comic really guts the reader through Kaitlyn. Readers don’t just seeing two “losers” trying to get on the straight-and-narrow, they see two humans trying to raise a daughter… and they’re screwing it up at every turn. As the title suggests, this is a violent comic, but it’s a heartbreaking comic, too.

Swamp Thing #3

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Cover for Swamp Thing #3. Illustrated by Kelley Jones with Chris Sotomayor. Photo courtesy of DC Comics.

Written by Len Wein, illustrated by Kelley Jones, colors by Michelle Madsen, letters by Rob Leigh.

Swamp Thing, the character, was first created by Len Wein and Berni Wrighston in 1971. After a famous run by Alan Moore in the 1980s, as well as recent revamps, the series has finally returned with vigor by original co-creator Len Wein. In this issue, Swamp Thing is offered a chance at shedding his monstrous appearance and turning back into the man he once was, but at what cost? Kelley Jones’ illustrations are a nostalgic throwback to classic horror anthologies like E.C. Comics’ Tales from the Crypt and Warren Publishing’s Creepy. Wein’s writing still feels like the good ol’ days of ‘60s and ‘70s scary stories, with gothic castles, languid narration, and stilted speech bringing this yesterday monster back to life.

Shaman #4

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Cover for Shaman #4. Illustrated by James Comey. Photo courtesy of Locust Moon Press.

Written by Ben Kahn, art by Bruno Hidalgo, letters by Jason Arthur.

How’s this for a premise? The Shaman is a magical guy who can bring back dead people who are “amazing” to help fight monsters wreaking havoc on the world. In this issue, it turns out that Fenway Park’s Green Monster was an actual monster that was banished into the famous Boston Red Sox wall and held there by The Bambino’s Curse. Now that the Red Sox have won the World Series, the curse is broken and the monster is free, terrorizing Boston. So Shaman and his pals resurrect Babe Ruth to help defeat the monster. With an effortless, breezy art style by James Comey and quippy, funny dialogue from Ben Kahn, Shaman as a series is fast becoming one of the most inventive little indies hitting digital platforms today.

Wendigo

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Cover for Wendigo. Illustrated by Brahm Revel. Photo courtesy of Glass Eye Pix Comix.

Story by Larry Fessenden, art by Brahm Revel, letters by Peter Chung.

Based on the Glass Eye Pix film Wendigo (2001) written and directed by Larry Fessenden, this comic adaptation originally hit shelves almost 15 years ago. Now, thanks to Comixology, the frenetic work is available again digitally. The story follows a family taking a weekend off in the woods, and follows a tenuous relationship between a father, a son, a mother, a hunter, and a Wendigo—an Algonquian cryptozoological spirit of the forest. Full of tense moments and complicated family dynamics, and illustrated in stark black-and-white by Revel that invoke everything from early American woodcuts to Chick tracts, Wendigo is a 70-page love letter to folkloric horror.

What were you reading this week? Let us know @CreatorsProject or in the comments below.

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