Awkwardness, Experiments, and Plants REVIEWING Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam!

Time to discuss another DC YA graphic novel. 

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Creative Team: Maggie Stiefvater, Morgan Beem, Jeremy Lawson & Ariana Maher
Year: 2020
Genre: YA Graphic Novel


Twins Alec and Walker Holland have a reputation around town. One is quiet and the other is the life of any party, but they are inseparable. For their last summer before college, the two leave the city to live with their rural cousins, where they find that the swamp holds far darker depths than they could have imagined. 

While Walker carves their names into the new social scene, Alec recedes into a summer-school laboratory, because he brought something from home on their trip - it's an experiment that will soon consume him. This season, both brothers must confront truths, ancient and familial, and as their lives diverge, tensions increase and dormant memories claw to the surface. 


I haven't read very many comics involving Swamp Thing and haven't read any of the series he's led on his own. The only times I've seen him are when he's partnered up with the heroes of the Justice League for really big threats. I know his alter ego's name and that's about it. I know a few minor details about his origin. That being said, I don't think this is the best introduction to the character. The art for this graphic novel is alright, but...I just did not dig this story very much. Some aspects of it were good, but overall I didn't feel very connected to this one. Of the nine or so YA graphic novels of DC's that I've read, this has definitely been one of the weakest. 

The story follows Alec as he spends his summer with his brother and cousins. Alec loves plants and isn't great with people. He has rough interactions with most people except for one particular girl he meets and even that starts off a bit rocky. He experiments with plants and struggles with taking genuine pride in his work. While there are interesting moments involving his care and understanding of plants, and some intrigue with his experiments, there isn't much more here that is good. 

The pace is so slow. There is very little action of any kind and the drama that moves the story forward doesn't feel very compelling. There just isn't much to latch onto. I felt bad for Alec, but I didn't really CARE. Nothing about this story really made me care until one aspect towards the end...and by then it was the end so it felt like a bit of a letdown. Some books really make me read through them quickly because they're just so good. Blink and it's over. This book is the kind that I had to slog through and TRY to read faster so that it could be over and I could read a DIFFERENT YA graphic novel from DC instead. 

Some elements seem really promising, but they just never seem to hit a point of being great or entertaining. This one just doesn't feel like it'd hit the mark, even for its target audience. My tastes reading wise haven't changed THAT much since my teen years. I did not like this, teen me wouldn't have liked it...if anything it feels a bit preachy in its theme. Isolation, social awkwardness, something not human being better than humans...these are all things that I've generally related with in stories past. These are common things that teens DO relate to. The presentation of them was just bad and felt out of touch. This feels like an adult trying to relate to teens instead of being an adult sharing their view and experience of youth in a way that resonates.   

I thought the art was okay. I liked the colors and the panel set up was fine for telling the story. However, the art is definitely the stronger part of the two elements and even then, it wasn't in a style that is visually appealing to me. The mileage here may vary for other readers, but the art just can't save the story. The words weren't good enough to make this worthwhile in most regards.

I give Swamp Thing: Twin Branches a Lone Star rating of ✯✯ stars. I don't recommend it. It's definitely one of the most disappointing DC graphic novels in the company's YA graphic novel lineup. Pass this one up in favor of some of the others (ex: Shadow of the Batgirl, The Oracle Code). I feel no need to ever revisit this and I'd much rather try some standard Swamp Thing comics. This introduction didn't make me want to know more about the character at all. If anything it'd make me more likely to find OTHER DC characters to check out instead. There's nothing particularly special or compelling about this iteration of Swamp Thing...and he's barely Swamp Thing at all here. Weak origin. The sibling stuff at the end is fun and THAT felt relatable...but it still wasn't all that satisfying and it couldn't save the story. 

Thanks for joining me for today's review here at The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books to your screen and put in my two cents about them! See you at the next review!