By Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz, and Matthew Wilson
When DC launched the New 52, they seemed to have placed an initiative on expanding their “Dark” line of books. At one point, this line was excellent with Scott Snyder writing Swamp Thing, and Jeff Lemire writing Justice League Dark and Animal Man. Even Phantom Stranger, Pandora, and Constantine (before being sucked into crossover hell) were entertaining. All of these books were really good reads every month. Now, Animal Man is no more, and Justice League Dark and the rest’s quality took a sharp nose dive straight off a cliff. Swamp Thing, however, is better than ever. Not only is it the darling of the DC “Dark” line, it might be the single best book DC releases on a monthly basis. The transition from Scott Snyder to Charles Soule has been seamless. In fact, the combo of Soule and Saiz has elevated this book, taking it to its current lofty standard.
The greatness continues in this issue. Swamp Thing must deal with a rogue, sentient algae bloom that poses a threat to Aquaman’s underwater kingdom (or is it Swamp Thing’s kingdom?). Soule shows the two heroes butting heads, but instead of having them break into the clichéd fist fight, he has Aquaman end the fight before in can even begin in a truly entertaining and brutal display of power. That can’t keep a good avatar down though. Again, Soule skips the fisticuffs, showing two level-headed superheroes using their brains and words to solve a potential problem. As a side note, this is something Soule continues to do in most of the books he’s writing. It’s a breath of fresh air. Sure, action can be exciting, but not when it is rote and pointless. Instead, Soule weaves a tapestry with intellect and common sense. Brains are sometimes more useful than brawn. Other writers please take note. As he has done with almost every issue, Soule explores Swamp Thing’s powers in new and interesting ways.
Speaking of those new explorations of Swamp Thing’s powers, Jesus Saiz absolutely hits this issue out of the park. Without his art, which is stunning, Swamp Thing’s powers would fall flat on the page. Instead, we are treated to gorgeous visuals as Swamp Thing learns more about the repercussions from some of his earlier actions. Also, Saiz’s rendition of Aquaman may be the best I’ve ever seen. Matthew Wilson’s colors also deepen the stunning visuals. The contrast he creates between the focus of land and sea and realms in between makes the reader feel that they’ve traveled to a new destination. Saiz and Wilson flex their storytelling muscles to the fullest in this issue.
Charles Soule continues to build on the Swamp Thing mythos while telling engaging story after engaging story. And he’s done it in a way that has left years of stories to mine from. The basis for this story comes from one decision from several issues back. Furthermore, we’re given a huge payout from something we’ve been eagerly anticipating for several issues. The last page will no doubt lead into another epic storyline. Soule is creating a saga that writhes in multiple directions. The end isn’t always clear, yet that is part of this book’s strength every single issue. Each page presents a new development in an always entertaining fashion. Whatever Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz have planned next is bound to be exciting.