(DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Charles Soule
Artwork by Javier Pina
Color Artwork by Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Travis Lanham
If you are a regular reader of my reviews (and I hope you are) then you know I am never at a loss for words when it comes to praising the genius of Charles Soule. Soule has taken the industry by storm with an impressive and varied body of work founded on solid character development and imaginative plots but perhaps the most captivating feature of his unique writing style is his subtle use of humor to make the fantastic relatable. Swamp Thing has never been a character known for his comedic turn of phrase but it is inherently endearing when an ordinarily austere character lets his hair, or in this case leaves, down and steps out of the rigid confines of expected behavior as Alec Holland does here when he dons a gaily colored costume and accompanies his newly transformed former avatar friends to Mardi Gras. Soule captures the essence of this moment so succinctly, simply by seeing the usually stern Holland in such festive attire is enough to briefly lighten the tone of the narrative. Not only does it speak to Holland’s humanity but it allows us to relate to his new companions in a way that makes them easily likable.
Holland dealt with the sinister Seeder as well as dismantled the Parliament of Trees thus setting himself up as sole avatar of The Green last issue and Soule continues to build his narrative from there. He begins this issue by introducing the three former avatars now in their current human form. Soule does a really nice job with the dialogue here as the newly transformed traveling companions crave some human-style entertainment. This is yet another example of Soule’s precise use of humor to endear these characters to us.
This issue is predominantly concerned with Capucine and her intriguingly sorrowful backstory. Hers is a woeful tale of a young 11th century French girl who was equally and simultaneously blessed and cursed with a thousand year life span. The majority of that time was filled with violence and death. Capucine became part of a band of warriors charged with the protection of an order of monks and their abbey. Unfortunately the abbey was constructed in an area that was frequently assaulted by bordering nations hence Capucine and her brothers in arms had no end to their bloody obligation. Soule masterfully crafts these scenes of historic fantasy with a “Game of Thrones” sensibility and realism. His approach to this issue is a bit of a departure from the more horror influenced material of recent arcs.
Visually Javier Pina fits seamlessly into the position recently held by Jesus Saiz; both artists have a detailed, precise style that works extremely well with Soule’s narratives. Pina’s lines are clean and meticulous giving his characters a slightly more realistic appearance. His dynamic page layouts and effective use of panels lend an energy to his storytelling that mirrors Soule’s up tempo pace. The collaborative results of working with artists of this high caliber are limitless. This Swamp Thing run is made up of dynamically rendered stories told with a sense of urgency and vigor. This is one of those historic runs that will be spoken about with the likes of Moore, Morrison and Millar, and more recently Brian K. Vaughn. It’s just that good.
Issue #28 is indicative of why Soule is perhaps the single best choice to be writing Swamp Thing. Certainly Scott Snyder did an impressive job on the title and his run deserves high praise but Charles Soule has upheld all expectations and even surpassed many with his on-going run. I hope everyone reading this is already subscribing to Swamp Thing but if you are not I seriously urge you to do so. This may not be an optimum jumping on spot but when something is this good why wait? (4.75/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.