Review: Swamp Thing #26
For those not following Charles Soule’s excellent run on Swamp Thing all you need to know is that the bad guy has recently dethroned the good guy, and that bad guy is now largely in charge of the show.
The good guy (Alex Holland/Swamp Thing) is now just a disembodied voice, guiding the reader through the story, but lacking physical form and the ability to do anything to stop the bad guy. This bad guy (Jason Woodrue/Seeder) is now trying to impress the group that has given him the power over all plant life on planet Earth.
However, because he’s a bad guy, he’s going to cause some trouble, and it doesn’t look like there’s anybody left to stop him. This issue details a quick history of the life and times of Jason Woodrue and we see how the bad guy he is today was once just a man who wanted to help make the world a greener, nicer place for all of us. An environmentalist gone wrong, if you like.
We see him at university where he is an intense student, eager to learn and explore beyond the boundaries as dictated by conventional science. There’s a nice mention of the legend of the ‘Green Man,’ which I really appreciated as the figure features strongly in local legend where I live in Wiltshire, England.
We then see him exploring the rainforests of Brazil in search of the parliament of the trees, the body that gives power to the avatar of all plant life on the planet. We see Woodrue fail (perhaps he should have headed to Wiltshire, England instead?) and then see him wallow in despair until the parliament calls, asking for help to rescue Alec Holland from a particularly sticky situation he had found himself in with the devious Anton Arcane.
This is where Jason Woodrue managed to get his foothold on power, as after rescuing Holland he was rewarded by the parliament with the power to manipulate seeds. Instead of immediately signing a contract with Monsanto Woodrue instead started to do deals with the dodgy characters that lurk in the magical realms of the DC universe. With this added magic his powers grew, and with these new powers he was eventually able to dethrone the reigning avatar of the Green (Alex ‘Swamp Thing’ Holland) and now we find ourselves in a new age where this evil man is in charge, and just like any new manager on the first day of his new job he’s eager to impress, but only really going to cause trouble.
In issue #26 we see Woodrue/Seeder intimidate a girl, fight an animal man and begin to cause some ecological problems in his attempts to impress the parliament of the trees. Oh dear, what a mess. I think that the parliament might regret their decision to put Seeder in charge, but what can our hero do about it, as he appears to be completely powerless right now.
Charles Soule has created something special during his recent run on Swamp Thing. His attention to long term storytelling and detail has been extremely impressive. Nothing is done for shock value or just to elicit a short-term reaction. This is carefully planned, layered storytelling and it’s an absolute joy to read. It’s shocking, but the shocks make sense. It’s funny, but the humour never detracts from the seriousness of the story itself. The characters are real, believable and emotionally engaging. The good guys are flawed and the bad guys take advantage of these flaws, just like what happens in real world situations.
I love it, and for me this book is probably the best written most enjoyable comic book on the market today. The art-work is complimentary and doesn’t detract from the layered storytelling, meshing perfectly to weave a story that is intelligent, surprising, rewarding and just a heck of a lot of fun. If you haven’t already been reading, then get it now. This is a good one, and you don’t want to be missing out on it.