There is one panel that, were the book had (it isn’t) would have justified the three dollars I paid for it. That panel? Seeing Swamp Thing rise out of the Scottish countryside, with tress growing from him and rivers running through him. It’s just one more reason why Charles Soule is probably the best thing to happen to Swamp Thing since Alan Moore. The things that he does with the character are unlike anything I’ve ever seen done with Swamp Thing before. I guess that’s sort of what creators have been doing with the character, but man, Charles Soule… there are no words that describe how great he is.
Swamp Thing is a dark character – he has his origins in horror, and that’s hard to ignore. But, as horrific as this issue is (we see Swamp Things as little more than skeleton, and man, that’s creepy as hell), the whole concept is so silly. I mean, it’s about a tree that grows whiskey, and Constantine becomes the king of a small Scottish town after drinking said whiskey.
Sounds absurd, right? Well yeah, that’s why we love Charles Soule. While this is probably the darkest issue he’s written yet, you kind of have to chuckle, if only because John Constantine is wearing a crown throughout the entire issue. But that, at the same time, is complemented by a man hopped up on the whiskey tree’s whiskey contemplating killing and eating his dog… Not two things I would generally put into the same issue.
There’s a dark humor to the book, and I love it. It works very well, especially for characters originally from the horror genre. That shows too – when Swamp Thing saves a child, that child is legitimately scared of him. Not surprising really, Swamp Thing is immensely powerful. And we really see that in this issue when he contemplates wiping the village off of the map. The last two pages pick up where issue #21 left off, and, though it feels like it’s (sort of) shoved in as an afterthought, it’s nice to see.
Really, my only major complaint with this issue is that it shifts artists. There’s not a huge difference in Kano and David Lapham’s style, but it’s just noticeable enough to detract from the issue as a whole. The art looks great, but the dual artists is a hindrance. There are also a lot of subtle details that make this book great – the lettering, inking, and colors are all great and contribute to the book being the stellar series that it is.
Score: 8.8, Great
This is the weakest issue of Charles Soule’s run yet, but it’s still one of my favorite books hitting the stands. This issue has a great dark humor to it, and, after a slew of issues with a great deal of levity, a darker, more horror tinged tone is a great change of pace for the series. I prefer the more light hearted issues, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy this one. And really, the biggest issue is the shifting artists, not the writing itself.