Things look more dire than ever for the Avatar of the Green in Swamp Thing #39. The Machine Queen strikes at Alec Holland, using his reanimated remains to rot him from the core. It’s a gruesome act that sets the rest of the issue in motion.
As the Lady Weeds, now the Machine Queen, returns to the haven of the Machines, she is confronted by Omega Calculus who challenges her choices. Omega Calculus argues that the Machines were only trying to create an ordered equilibrium with the other Kingdoms, not kill them. Omega Calculus, along with B and C Calculus attempt to remove Lady Weeds from the position. A Calculus provides a few moments of humor in the issue as he tries to avoid conflict and flat-out runs when Lady Weeds and Omega Calculus begin their fight.
Swamp Thing is rescued by Abby who uses her waning attachment to the Rot to stall his demise before taking him to the one man who can help, John Constantine. Swamp Thing finds Constantine in a bar, and after conceding that the magician was right about the Machines, is gifted with a drink that restores some of the power of the Green to him. Unfortunately, the power only allows Holland to move, not to use any of his great repertoire of abilities.
Prepared for one final, hopeless battle, Swamp Thing dives into the Green to face his nemesis, Anton Arcane. Arcane reveals that he has killed the Green and questions what hope Swamp Thing has left. The final page reveals Swamp Thing’s gambit, setting the stage for the series finale next month.
Charles Soule’s buildup to this final conflict has been fantastic. Things do look hopeless for the duration of this issue. In addition, this issue does a great job showing the personalities of the Calculi. Jesus Saiz’s art this issue is focused more on character moments. There’s a childlike panic in A Calculus’ body language as he pleads for his life with the Machine Queen. And as Swamp Thing faces defeat after defeat, Saiz gives Holland’s expressions a dourness that helps the narrative. The fact that Saiz is able to deliver these emotional moments with monsters and faceless robots is part of Swamp Thing‘s success. In addition to Saiz’s line-art, June Chung’s colors here are magnetic, with deathly browns surrounding the rot, dank tones making up Constantine’s bar hideout, and surreal greens throughout Swamp Thing’s enclave.
While Charles Soule’s script is top-notch, the inclusion of Constantine feels a bit unnecessary. It seems more like Soule is trying to close off John’s involvement in Swamp Thing’s narrative, but thus far it hasn’t added to much. At this stage in the arc and the series, it feels like an unnecessary tangent that could be dropped.
The yellow here feels far too bright, too “Wham! Pow!” for the book or even the rest of the page its on. This is obviously a nitpick, but when I read the issue, the panel stuck out in a way that I think was unintended. It would appear the color was to make the panel have more impact, a visual punch to emphasize the on-panel action, but to me the shade of yellow did its job too well, drawing my eye to it rather than to the scene.
Swamp Thing #39 is another great chapter in what has been one the New 52’s strongest series since its inception. Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz have both contributed to the series’ quality, and while it’s unfortunate that the series is ending in a month, the stage is set for the finale to be stellar.