Swamp Thing #19 review

The long, long Rotworld storyline is over and Swamp Thing gets a soft relaunch with a new creative team. Charles Soule hops on board as writer, Kano takes over as artist and suddenly I'm interested again. Instead of fighting monsters, Swamp Thing fears he's becoming as monstrous inside as he looks on the outside. You see, he's been travelling the world, learning about his capabilities and duties, heeding the demands of the Green. Someone named the Seeder is creating mini-paradises, improving the lives of the poor with little jungles and oases. It sounds wonderful, but Swampy is destroying them even though it means people will die; he's listening to the Green, believing that he's serving the bigger picture by restoring the planetary balance.

He believes he's doing the right thing, but he doesn't feel it. So he decides to seek advice from Superman, knowing that his powers mean that for every life he saves here, he's having to let someone die there. (To my mind this is an awfully 'glass half empty' attitude - as long as Superman is saving someone, it's all to the good.) Swamp Thing - or Alec Holland, as he still thinks of himself, despite his human inner body having died last month - arrives in Metropolis at night, so decides to spend a few hours at the Metropolis Botanical Garden. It's there he meets Batman villain the Scarecrow, and an entertaining encounter ensues.

Soule's Swampy is chattier than under previous writer Scott Snyder, and while some of this can be put down to a new writer piling on the exposition - page one is a tad clunky as we're given unnecessary background info - most of it goes to character. Soule gives us a Swampy desperately, defiantly clinging onto his notions of personhood, and Alec may be right to do so. After all, how many plants have a sense of humour? (Click on image to enlarge)

And there's some fine descriptive writing around the notion of the worldwide plant community, making Alec's life seem equal parts fascinating and banal.

It's not all talk - Swampy is constantly intervening to correct perceived wrongs, and there's one shocker of a scene which I won't spoil, but I would advise not reading this comic with your supper. Events crescendo to a climax that emphasises Swamp Thing's immense power. And while Superman barely cameos, despite the cracking gatefold cover from Andy Brase, I like what Soule does with the Man of Steel.

Partner-in-crime Kano puts his own stamp on the book with some seriously smart layouts, rendered with real craft. He captures Swampy's hulking grace, his immoveable nature. A nice bit of perspective work conveys what an imposing creature Swampy is, but every page has something to recommend it. And with the aid of colourist Matthew Wilson, Kano gives us a pulsing, nighttime Metropolis that's rarely seen.

If you jumped off Swamp Thing during the Rotworld serial, give the new creative team a chance - I think this is going to be a memorably fine run.

Comments

  1. Martin, thanks for the review. I jumped off Swamp Thing around issue 7, but having him fight the Scarecrow is the kind of neat pairing of a hero with a villian from someone else's rogue's gallery that I like.

    Also, re: your comment about the length of the Rotworld storyline, I've stuck with Wonder Woman and they are STILL doing the Zola's baby-Days of Olympus storyline (and I don't see it ending anytime soon)...Sheesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think Brian Azzarello plans ever to end that thing!

      Delete
  2. I gave it a try and honestly, it wasn't too bad. Pretty good characterization, new direction, and great looking art. Not much happened mind you, but I'm buckled in for the first few issues to see how this goes. Hopefully it continues to get better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great review Martin.

    If Swamp Thing is correct and these mini paradises are endangering the Green then they need to go. Plants are after all very important for the ecosystem, being its foundation and all. Plus a tropical forest can't be naturally maintained in a desert and ruins the desert, humans aren't the only things living there.

    Also I think Swamp Thing should be plantlike. Human thoughts are animal thoughts and belong to the Red.

    --Eki

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eki, interesting point about plant thought processes. Mind, even if Swampy becomes less lucid, Prince Charles will always understand him!

      Delete
  4. It was certainly refreshing to get out from the Rotworld storyline that just went on and on, even if (as Information Geek said) not a great deal happened. Still, a good first issue for the new creative team.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I do hope the quality keeps up.

      Delete
  5. I met Charles Soule today at the MOCCA Fest in NY, and picked this up from him -- possibly the only DC comic in the entire show -- on your recommendation. (He signed it, and drew a little Swamp Thing on the cover, too!) It's good stuff; I like where it seems to be going, and the tone of the story is just right. (Not too grim, but still a serious adventure with stakes.)

    Soule said he's planning to do 1-, 2-, and 3-issue stories, and then move on to the next one, rather than a huge arc. I think that's the way to go, too (and really, it was *that* aspect of Alan Moore's run that pulled me in -- underwater vampires, all right!). I'm looking forward to seeing what this story brings. Swamp Thing might be an ideal book to pick up occasionally, story to story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent stuff, Rob - did you get your photo taken with Mr Soule?

      And did you tell him to send me free stuff? I never get free stuff.

      Silliness aside, I'm glad you tried, and enjoyed, the issue. And I'm delighted by the news of shorter stories. Thanks!

      Delete
  6. I really liked the new direction, liked it better than the Snyder/Paquette stuff. LOVED seeing Swamp Thing as a cactus and LOVE the fact that the stupid antlers are GONE.

    Entertaining and funny. Horror despite the superhero trappings. The promise of a tour of the DCU's underbelly. Definitely up my alley.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Those antlers were truly ridiculous. I can't wait to see what happens next.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment