Swamp Thing #19 features the new creative team of writer Charles Soule and artist Kano, taking over the book following a popular run by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Here’s the official description from DC, which, like all their solicits for this month, takes the form of a question:
What could Swamp Thing possibly fear more than The Scarecrow?
Soule’s take on the character of Alec Holland is a natural progression of Snyder’s work. Now that the threat of the Rot is passed, Holland must balance the desires of the Green with his own human morality. Soule plants some seeds (sorry) for an extended storyline before Swamp Thing takes off for Metropolis, seeking advice from Superman. Instead he gets the Scarecrow. Who would have thought the best portrayal of Gotham’s Master of Fear in the New 52 so far would be in Swamp Thing? This is a new, oddly sane version of the Scarecrow, who is pleasantly matter-of-fact, albeit a bit naive.
Kano has some big shoes to fill as artist for this series, even more so than Soule. His work lacks the eye-popping dimensions and floral realism of Paquette, but he brings some excellent qualities of his own. Like Paquette, he uses biology, but where Paquette employed leaves and flowers in his imagery, Kano opts for cellulose, bacteria, and pollen spores. He also alters Swamp Thing’s appearance to suit his environment; in an early desert scene, Swampy is covered in spines, having taken on a cactus-like appearance. Finally, Kano largely ignores the rules of how a human body can bend when drawing the spindly Scarecrow, who apparently dislocates his joints without a thought. It’s an unsettling, yet very cool, quality for the character.
I try not to quibble (too much) about powers, and what characters can and can’t do, but I do have to wonder how Swamp Thing can manipulate water, as well as plants, when he destroys an oasis. There are a few other problems, including a general lack of urgency throughout the book, but even that feels right, in a way. Holland the man is dead; we’re moving at plant speed now.
Overall, Charles Soule and Kano have created an interesting first issue for their run that suggests they have big things in store for Swamp Thing and his readers.
Zac Boone briefly confused cellulose with cellulite while writing this. Follow him on Twitter.
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