Swamp Thing is one of those New 52 launch titles that I’ve wanted to read for a long time but didn’t get around to until very recently. And then it all just kind of happened last month and I blitzed through the three recent issues so I could be all caught up on the current arc. And it turned out to be a pretty good arc too, one that seeks to delve into the mythology of the character and also take it a few steps further. With all that the newly-formed Machine Kingdom is up to, it looks like the times ahead for the hero are quite grim indeed and that he is going to have to go through some pretty brutal challenges before he can succeed.
In past week’s Swamp Thing #38, we finally see the beginnings of the Machine Kingdom’s assault on the Avatar of the Green. When they failed in a previous attempt, the Machine Kingdom decided to create itself an Avatar of its own and said Avatar has completely changed around their mode of thinking and has taken battle directly to Swamp Thing, gathering allies and supporters of its own. And this pretty fight is pretty brutal indeed for the hero as Charles Soule explores how the combined powers of three supervillains launch a simultaneous attack on him.
Being a fairly new reader to the series, I lack a certain understanding of many of the mythos elements of Swamp Thing, especially as developed in the New 52. I am only passably familiar with the villains though with the hero himself I am a bit more familiar, having followed his adventures with the Justice League Dark for more than a year now. In the recent issues, the Machine Kingdom has launched an all-out war on the Green, seeking to subvert it to its own… perfection, and its particular chosen Avatar is quite adept at bringing their objectives to a successful end.
Or so it seems.
The thing that I really like here is how different Swamp Thing as a book is to the rest of the New 52. Sure, it has many stylistic similarities and appears to be rather grim at times, but it is also so much more since it isn’t a traditional superhero title, and the challenges that Swamp Thing faces aren’t really the same kind of challenges the typical heroes like the Justice League heroes usually face. Very far out there. And this is where Charles Soule seems to thrive really well.
The story has some good pace and lots of great action. It has all-out battles and some more subtle stuff on the side of betrayal and deceit. Little is as it seems and with Arcane having been brought back as well, the Machine Kingdom has an ace up its sleeve that really is able to counter the best that Swamp Thing can throw at them. Arcane understands the hero really well, and knows where to strike in order to hurt the hero the most. It is kind of like watching Lex Luthor unveil this complex strategy of taking down Superman, where he confronts him bit by bit and walks away from every encounter with more and more significant advantages.
Pretty damn epic, that, even though we don’t actually really see Arcane and Swamp Thing go toe-to-toe. Not yet at least. And the particular twist early on, with the Machine Queen, Arcane and Miki teaming up to create the… perfect weapon against Swamp Thing, that’s where the issue really captured my interest and also solved a particular mystery from the end of the previous issue. And by the end, well, by the end Swamp Thing is really in the deep end this time.
Javi Pina is the artist here with June Chung on colours, Travis Lanham on the letters and Jesus Saiz on the cover. A different art team this time, but one that is still pretty damn consistent with the output of the previous one. Lots of action here so the team has its work cut out, and the different locations we visit each have their own charm and place in the grand scheme of things. I particularly liked how the team presented the fight between the titular hero and the character on the cover there, in an action-match that really shows Swamp Thing’s many weaknesses.
The arc is still going pretty damn strong here!
More Swamp Thing: #35-37;