By Charles Soule, Javi Pina, Carmen Carnero, Jose Villarrubia w/ Nathan Fairbairn, Yanick Paquette, Ryan Browne and Dave Bullock
By the time you finish Swamp Thing Annual #3 you’re going to feel like it’s the end of an era and, well it might be in some aspects, it’s at least not the end of the Charles Soule era—yet, at least. This issue is, really, everything that’s great about Soule’s run packed into one big issue; there’s action, heart, fantastic artwork from a number of great artists including a cameo from the mighty Yanick Paquette, and in one swoop he’s changed the landscape for ol’ Swampy once again.
It’s worth mentioning that after Snyder, there was some hesitation to jump onto Soule’s run. But, even long before this issue, Charles Soule has proved his worth and his love of the character ten times over. So, Charles, if you’re reading this, I was wrong to ever doubt you. Oh, and in case you’re not quite convinced at just how good Soule is, check out his dialogue for The Demon. Aside from being a writer and a lawyer, he can rhyme with the best of them. Certainly some of the best work with The Demon since the New 52 started.
Then you come to the art, and immediately you might be tentative. There are five artists listed, after all, and a lot of the times that can spell disaster. Thankfully, however, the main two artists, Javi Pina and Carmen Carnero, trade off beautifully and, if we’re being honest, it was hard to tell where one finished and the other began. That’s a rare occurrence, especially when there’s so many artists involved, and it’s nice to know that sometimes, yes, this can work for a book and not end up looking like a hot mess or have two different artist fight for your attention. The other three artists handled the story, or flash back, scenes and in this case it worked. Browne’s “Popcorn Thing” scene was humorous and well crafted and Dave Bullock’s Demon scene was positively evil. Taking nothing away from them, and the two who handled the bulk of the work, returning Swamp Thing artist Yanick Paquette might have stolen the show. His splash page alone was just magnificent and it was damn good to see his work in a Swamp Thing book again. Worth mention as well is Nathan Fairbairn’s colors on Paquette’s inks. Considering everything that’s going on in those pages, Fairbairn hits every mark perfectly. Nothing is out of place, nothing looks odd, it’s all just beautifully rendered by someone who clearly put a lot of thought and heart into the page.
[SPLASH PAGE IMAGE REMOVE – POTENTIAL SPOILERS! LOOK BELOW THE COVER IMAGE IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN SEEING IT. IT’S A THING OF BEAUTY]
Simply put, Swamp Thing Annual was a winner. It wrapped up a story that has been ongoing since Soule took over in a beautiful and heartfelt way while still being interesting and action packed. It had a little bit of everything and even if you haven’t been reading this series, you should pick this up and get a taste of what you’ve been missing. This has easily been one of the best annual issues of any series yet and when Soule inevitably leaves this book, and DC, its’ going to be a sad, sad day. Until then, enjoy what you can get. Pick this up.