After the slow buildup, Swamp Thing #38 ramps up the action and the stakes as the Machines wage a war on all fronts against the Green. Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz up the pacing for the final arc of their run.
The issue opens as Swamp Thing and Abby fend off attacks by the Machine Queen across the globe. Stretched thin by the various groups of mechanical minions, Swamp Thing is unable to fully focus on any particular battle. This leaves the Green open for the Queen’s final gambit, a union with Anton Arcane and Miki, Avatar of the Grey. The details of their merger are left unclear until the climax of the book.
In the meantime, we see the second portion of their plan, an assault on Gaurav in the hopes of using him to bend the Green to their will. It is here that the Grey’s part in the plan becomes clear. Control over fungi gives her a vast array of powers, and one becomes particularly useful in their fight against Gaurav.
Finally, Anton Arcane makes one final play to tip the odds in the kingdoms’ favor against Swamp Thing, and it’s one that may deal the final blow to Holland.
Swamp Thing #38 is an issue of escalation. Charles Soule starts in the middle of a worldwide conflict and frames within that a story of the villains plotting. It’s fun to watch as the Machine Queen, Arcane, and Miki all relish in their revenge against Holland. These characters all have different personalities and approach the act in different ways: the Machine Queen is cold, Miki is fiercely passionate, and Arcane is possessed by it. And it’s nice to see Soule weave a touch of humor into the proceedings with A Calculus’ reactions to the union.
Jesus Saiz is on top of his game here as well. There’s an energetic flow to the panels that adds to the tension and keeps the comic a smooth read. This line art isn’t as intricately detailed as some previous issues, but that’s to service the feeling of movement in the action scenes. In particular, a marvelous two-page montage of the battle between the Swamp Thing and the machines stands out as a highlight for the issue.
Considering it’s pacing, Swamp Thing #38 is a lighter read than some of the prior chapters in this series. There are plenty of nice beats within, but they all move quickly. This, however, is to the benefit of the overall story. The previous issues in the arc took their time to properly set the stakes and this issue feels like the escalation to the climax that is likely coming.
Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz deliver a fun, fast-paced comic in Swamp Thing #38. While a quick read, the issue’s great villain-work and quality art make it a blast and a welcome change of speed from previous issues.