Swamp Thing 19
Charles Soule, Kano
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
I don’t normally review Swamp Thing, but I figured that this was a special issue for a number of reasons. One, it is the first one with the new creative team of Charles Soule and Kano. Second, it has the Scarecrow as a guest villain, which I’m totally on board with being a Batman fan and all. But third, and quite possibly most importantly, it was surprisingly good. Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved Scott Snyder’s run, but it all just seemed like a really elaborate origin story. An eighteen part origin story. So this is essentially issue one of the ongoing title, where we just get to see Swamp Thing fighting bad guys and dealing with his unique… situation.
What is that situation exactly? New fans (which I hope there are many after this issue) will be surprised to know that this issue simultaneously and quite expertly blends “what just happened” to Dr. Alec Holland with “what’s going on now” with Holland accepting his role as the new guardian of the green. There’s a great monologue going throughout the entire issue where the reader gets to really see and feel what Holland is going through. Here he is, this man of science who has lost everything. His lover, his work, his very humanity… all gone. Which leaves him with only one option left. He has to protect the world. And the only way to actually do this without going completely insane is to do it without caring. But it’s interesting because he keeps telling us that he doesn’t care when he kills a bunch of Sudanese rebels, but I’m not convinced. It’s almost as if he’s trying to fool himself. His humanity is still very much intact, whether he admits it or not. Which makes him a compelling character, something that I don’t believe existed before the line-wide reboot of the New 52.
After we get some really meta contemplation scenes that are essentially just Swamp Thing saying he needs to get to a city, Metropolis in particular, the second half of the issue takes us to where the story really truly begins. He sees the Scarecrow breaking into the Metropolis Botanical Garden, most likely getting something for one of his new fear toxins. They argue a bit. Then fight. And then the unthinkable happens: The Scarecrow actually bests Swamp Thing. But it’s not a complete victory of the madman, because when Swamp Thing falls unconscious, the green takes over the whole city. Plants are going crazy without him to control them and keep them in check. Which is bad. And then we zoom out to the skies, where Superman is hovering and observing Holland’s curse taking over his city. I can’t wait for the next issue, mostly because Supeman fighting Swamp Thing (you know they’ll fight, then team up) is going to be awesome. But also partially because I really want to see the Scarecrow weasel his way out of this one. I’m extremely hopeful for this series again, which is a shock, because I was quite honestly considering dropping it when Snyder left. I’m glad I stuck around.
My Rating: 4/5