Comic Review: Swamp Thing #21
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Colourist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Previously, in Swamp Thing: Triumphing over his greatest challenge so far, Alec Holland abandoned his human body and truly became the Swamp Thing in order to stop Anton Arcane and the forces of the Rot. Along the way, the love of Alec’s life, Abby Arcane, was lost to him as she became the Avatar of the Rot and the two were forcibly separated by their respective Parliaments.
Now on a crusade to do as the Parliament of Trees demands, Alec defends the Green from all outside threats, whether they damage human life or not. Feeling that he is losing touch with his humanity, Alec travels to Metropolis to discuss the matter with Superman. However, an encounter with the Scarecrow caused Alec to hallucinate and rampage across Metropolis. Returning to the swamps after being rescued by Superman, Alec is astounded to find a mysterious woman who has apparently been searching for him.
The mystery of Capucine has been hanging over Swamp Thing since Charles Soule’s run began two issues ago, thanks to numerous interviews and solicitations teasing her appearance and importance within the series. Last issue, she popped up in the final few panels, and this issue sees her first full appearance as she begs Swamp Thing to help her. However, we leave this issue with very little information about who she actually is, and her role in the proceedings. In fact, the title of this issue – ‘The Murder Poet’ – is more revealing than much of what Capucine does during the issue itself.
Soule’s voice for Alec Holland continues to set itself far apart from the other iterations of the character that came before it; his Alec is very introspective, and yet much more talkative with those around him, whereas other Swampys have been much more stoic. Alec’s dark humour is also a refreshing addition to the series, and the observations he throws around as the plot unfolds around him will bring a wry grin to the reader’s face.
There are quite a few surprises in store here, as Soule’s revelation about the much-wondered-about Sanctuary of the Green Leaf is the complete opposite of what we’d expected, and then everything takes a turn for the surreal, involving a trip into the Green, a flashback to a Swamp Thing from the 1800s, and a surprise attack from a recurring villain, helping to build both the threat that they present and enrich the mythology of the Green along the way. Considering most of this issue physically takes place in the same small area, there’s a lot going on. There’s also the continuing theme of Alec now having to put the Green above everything else, with Capucine’s problem being almost cast aside in favour of a more imposing problem for the next two issues.
I was quite worried that after two issues of Kano, bringing in a fill-in artist already would ruin the visual consistency of the book. As usual, how wrong I was. Jesus Saiz is more than a competent fill-in, he is almost identical in his style to Kano, to the point where I wouldn’t have realised it was a different artist if not for the issue credits. Like all the artists that seem to work on this title, Saiz is able to bend his style around the subject matter easily, with the trademark panel borders and page transitions that have become synonymous with this series. This consistency could also be down to the contribution of colourist Matthew Wilson, whose colours are earthy, appropriate, and always expertly chosen. If Saiz and Kano are going to tag-team this series from now on, with Wilson along for the ride, this book is in excellent hands.
Three issues in, and I’m almost tempted to say “Scott Snyder who?” – Charles Soule has made this series more Swamp Thing-like than ever before, and immersed himself in the lore and mythology of the series with ease. His voice for Alec is clearly defined and makes for a engaging framework to drive the story forward. Capucine is an intriguing addition to the supporting cast (or a good start, considering Alec’s lack of friends), and the artwork is absolutely fantastic and seems to be consistent across artists. Is it possible that this series has gotten even better? It sure looks like it.
GO Rating: 4.5/5