What a strange and wonderful transition we’ve had from Scott Snyder’s bizarre, cosmic take on Swamp Thing to Charles Soule’s closer, more intimate look at the man behind the moss. Last issue left off with the Seeder, a strange man from Alec Holland’s past, challenging him for the right to be the avatar of the Green and this issue picks up, appropriately enough, with that very battle. I really enjoyed how this played out, eschewing the usual superhero/villain smackdown and letting the two really display the extent to which they could use a very similar power set in some very different ways. It’s compact, it’s well-paced, and it ends satisfactorily, it’s a very solid issue.
Part of that is certainly due to Jesus Saiz and Matthew Wilson on linework and colors respectively. This art has adjusted wonderfully to the more focused, character-based stories with clean, crisp visuals and well-defined character outlines. The action deserves special mention as well as a lot of it is very abstracted, but never confusing. Swamp Thing’s powers are somewhat difficult to represent with any kind of verve or action in a stationary panel, but Saiz and Wilson make them look positively thrilling. For a book that takes place across such diverse settings, everything feels fluid and easy to follow.
I enjoyed this book, but there’s just something missing. Something ringing hollow. For how much we’re focusing on character over cosmic, and even bringing new players to the field, I feel like Swamp Thing himself is becoming increasingly less-defined as a character. They’ve been doing some intriguing things with the dynamic between the Green and Alec Holland, but I feel like Holland as a character is slipping further and further away with less and less definition and Swamp Thing, without his human side, isn’t a terribly compelling character.
I’m still enjoying Soule’s take on the character very much and I still very much recommend this issue if, for no other reason, than I feel like it has a very novel take on the character’s powerset and some absolutely incredible visuals to back it up. The problem I list above is definitely one of long-term that could be solved gradually issue-to-issue, making this easily recommendable.