Swamp Thing’s new creative team gives the series a fresh new take on Alec Holland’s saga.
Love him or hate him, its undeniable that Scott Snyder has been making some big waves in the world of comics these past few years. With critically acclaimed runs under his belt on Batman, American Vampire, and his recently concluded Swamp Thing, Snyder has become nothing short of a tour de force in the industry. Along with artist Yanick Paquette, Snyder reinvigorated the Swamp Thing series, bringing a much darker, horror-centric tone to the book.
Having just concluded the massive Rotworld crossover, Snyder and Paquette both decided to move on from Swamp Thing, leaving the next creative team with an enormous set of shoes to fill. Enter Charles Soule and Kano.
When any series gets a change in creative team, one of the most important things for the new team to get right is giving the book a style that is all their own whilst still remaining faithful to the core concepts the previous team left them with. Fortunately, Soule and Kano excel in this department, presenting readers with a fresh new take on the character that still feels very much like Swamp Thing without treading on the feet of the previous teams vision.
Soule sets the tone well for his first issue, remaining faithful to most of what Snyder established before, while giving the book a slightly lighter tone, creating a distinct voice to his vision of the character and world. Soule’s interpretation of Swamp Thing is spot on. He really seems to “get” the character, and does an excellent job channeling Alec’s emotions and thought process as he struggles between staying in contact with his human side and fulfilling his duties as an avatar of the Green. It’s also worth noting that this issue presents an excellent jumping on point for anyone interested in picking up Swamp Thing. This issue is largely written as an introduction to Soule’s upcoming story, and the beginning of the issue does a good job presenting the world of Swamp Thing, including the character, his powers, and the Green. The main conflict in this issue revolves around Swamp Thing’s encounter with The Scarecrow, but Soule was sure to leave groundwork hinting towards a new villain that Alec will face in the coming months as a larger arc develops. Much of the story in this issue is told through narration boxes, a technique which can be tedious method of exposition when used poorly. Soule executes these very well, however, getting out as much information as he needs without it ever feeling tiresome.
I’m terms of art, Kano does an excellent job finding a distinct look for the book whilst staying away from what Paquette was doing on his run. Kano utilizes a clean, slightly more traditional style of drawing compared to that of Paquette’s, creating a unique yet fitting look for a Swamp Thing comic. One of the most creative aspects of the art in this issue is the many different environments that are emphasized on Swamp Thing’s body. These variations of Swamp Thing work well to emphasize Alec’s connection to the Green, and throughout the issue you’ll see many different forms of the character including desert, microscopic, and even a jungle aesthetic that gives a nod to some of the classic artwork from Alan Moore’s run on the series. Luckily, the abstract, plant influenced paneling (perhaps the coolest part of Paquette’s run) is here to stay, appearing in the first few pages of the issue. It isn’t quite as prominent and abstract as Paquette’s was, but it does a good job at linking the old and the new in terms of aesthetic design.
My only real complaint with this issue is the inclusion of Scarecrow. While I’m all for Swamp Thing becoming more involved with the rest of the DC Universe, I’d have preferred if Soule had opted to ease the story into the shared universe a bit more, rather than throwing him in on his first issue. This is a minor gripe, however, and doesn’t really detract from what the book is trying to accomplish.
While many fans may have been disappointed to see Snyder and Paquette leave Swamp Thing, worry not: DC has left the title in more than capable hands. More an introductory issue than anything else, Soule and Kano have managed to create a distinct, unique and most of all fun style for their run on Swamp Thing, and it’ll be exciting to see where they’ll take the comic in the coming months.