by Charles Soule, Javier Pina & Matthew Wilson
It has been said that a hero is judged by the strength of his enemies. If this is the case, Charles Soule is pumping up Swamp Thing’s muscle. Swamp Thing #33 includes revelations which foreshadow future conflict for the main character. This is an exposition-heavy issue that rewards those who read it closely.
The book has a cold opening with Swamp Thing confronting Lady Weeds regarding the final panel of last issue. Alec narrates his actions and feelings which promotes the sense that he is still slightly lost and is more reactive than proactive at this point. After the opening pages, Swamp Thing takes off to face a threat to the Green and the central narration changes to the Wolf’s voice. The narration, which is only slightly related to battle scenes, is an interesting storytelling device which helps move both the story’s pace and plot. Soule allows readers to get more familiar with Wolf’s motivations and what could be the true nature of the character. In addition, readers get the visual aspects of the threats that Swamp Thing faces. This switch in narration is a clever choice. Good villains are often the ones that have an interesting backstory and rely more on manipulation rather than brute strength. These characteristics give the conflict mystery and intrigue on top of action. Soule injects these attributes into the main vein of this issue.
Spectacular art continues to fill the panels of Swamp Thing courtesy of Javier Pina and Matthew Wilson. The muted tones create a humid film on top of the lush greens and browns of the hot Louisiana atmosphere. Pina fills the page with rolling hills and wetlands that are picturesque. One aspect that Pina nails is Alec Holland’s expressions. These touches of human reaction to the otherwise vegetative husk are a wonderful example of showing not telling the emotion. Wilson adds a touch of reaction color that accentuates the reactions nicely. The battle montages are illustrated in large detail without over loading or desensitizing the action allowing readers to focus on both the exposition and the action.
Soule takes a chance letting the Wolf and Lady Weeds narrate the majority of the issue. It’s a chance thatallows readers to get more familiar with the supporting cast. The narrative set against Pina and Wilson’s gorgeous battle scenes is a nice touch to what could have been a standard montage. This issue does require a close read to get the slight nuances in Soule’s script but the reward makes it worthwhile.