Swamp Thing continues to underwhelm. There is nothing specifically wrong with the series, but it is not living up to what it could be. The New 52 reboot of the DC icon had solid promise. Writer Scott Snyder put forth a nice combination of the god-like status of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run with some newer elements. Issues #1-6 of the original run gave Swamp Thing fans something to chomp on.
Now, at issue #25, something has gone horribly awry. It would be easy enough to blame lack of direction, or to put the onus completely on the writer, but I think that’s too easy. The reality of Swamp Thing’s problems come from a lack of allowing Swamp Thing to be Swamp Thing. So far, everything involving the creature in the New 52 is about Swamp Thing proving himself worthy. That’s a fine first story arc, but over two years into the series, it begins to rot with the stench of no ideas.
The return of Swamp Thing brought with it the idea that the creature known throughout the history of the series was not Alec Holland, but rather a product of his consciousness. Holland had died, and was resurrected post-Brightest Day. When the New 52 flipped the DC Universe, that hadn’t changed. Readers followed as Alec Holland rejected, then accepted the Swamp Thing mantle, followed by a lengthy and often dry story of Swamp Thing proving himself as he battled the Rot. Now, new writer Charles Soule has the character, and the readers, jumping through those same hoops.
Swamp Thing #25 is a continued battle with another plant-life form named the Seeder. Apparently, the whole plant world is an in-depth political system strife with backbiting, political turmoil, liars and cheaters. I found that aspect to be interesting, and I wanted to see a deeper examination of that through Swamp Thing. Perhaps a story arc where our hero turns his back on the patriarchal system. Instead, we have another case of “can Alec Holland be the avatar of the green?” The plot of Swamp Thing #25 is irrelevant – just know it ends with what looks like a victory from The Seeder. More importantly, know that the book is once again mired in the testing of the new Swamp Thing. This series needs to swing into new arenas of storytelling, and soon.
While the story of Swamp Thing continues to stagger, the art excels. Jesus Saiz, while not Yanick Paquette, is seriously talented. He excels at creating this natural world. His details work is exceptional, and his pencils really capture an organic feel to the whole Swamp Thing Universe. It’s not easy to differentiate characters who all look the same, so kudos to Saiz for that. Visually, Swamp Thing #25 is much more exhilarating than the story.
(2 Story, 4 Art)