Scott Snyder came to the New 52 with a mandate for Swamp Thing to become a dark character settled with the likes of Animal Man for a grim adventure into the DCU. With a ploy towards diversity now extending throughout comics, maybe it’s time for a different kind of diversity. This includes storytelling to reflect different kinds of readers who are looking for something a little more obscure than the average superhero comic. Writer Charles Soule never let up in that respect, as his tenure on the title starting with #19 took the character back down to his roots with even more deconstruction than what was featured in previous creator’s runs on the avatar of the green.
The likes of Alan Moore propelled Swamp Thing to a literary focused comic containing ideas that created some of the most interesting and poignant material in Big Two comics. With a focus on ecological concerns, he brought Swampy head first into the deepest darkest depths of weirdness. It was a run so influential that all incarnations of the book after have numerous references to the work. Can any one writer after Moore escape the shadow of the revered 80’s comic?
Soule’s issue #40 is an ending to a series that showed off just how versatile Holland is as a character – something that no author including Moore has ever explored before. Moore attempted to bring the character into one type of story that usually served as an ecologically savvy riff into exploring the darkness of humanity, as pointed out in the famous Gotham story arc. However Soule used his female lead Capucine to give the audience a story that was allowed to take a breath of fresh air embracing a lighter direction. The book started on a harsh note when Holland lost the ability to be in a relationship with Abby Arcane just from a physical perspective. It was a forced breakup that painted the comic as a bleak reflection of a monster.
As the title rebounded back into the light, it was able to hit some incredible beats because it wasn’t afraid of being comedy one month and drama within the very next. The series went deeper into the roots of mythology that both Snyder and Moore crafted for Soule while respecting their previous works. Soule’s stories dealt with mythology and some of the same returning villains, but the pacing was always something that proved to be an asset to the comic. Arcs were short then long constantly changing in length never letting the reader get bored. The mythology was also integrating new ideas and different kingdoms into the Green.
The ending of issue #40 was a particularly lovely inclusion on the part of the book, as it wrapped a crucial plot point dealt with at the end of Snyder’s run and left the gate open for more with the character. Holland now has an opportunity to put a bow on every single story, and yet, he continues his pursuit of serving as the avatar in the face of the green. The character has become an icon for his straight man-like nature reflecting the goodness within his own heart. Holland is someone who will choose life over death at any point in his existence, never taking the easy way out.
This last issue was the conclusion of a storyline seeded over a horde of books that teamed a group of characters together to tackle Anton Arcane. The story sounds pedestrian in nature covered in both Snyder and Moore’s work, but Soule takes every single piece he weaved into the mythos for this last storyline, then he reaches back and teams up with artist Jesus Saiz to pull a beautiful trick out of the medium and expand the mythology further still. I’m chomping at the bit to see what would happen next with Soule and the art team next on the title. This almost seems to be a theme with Soule’s Marvel work as the author had to put an end to the equally beloved She-Hulk much too soon.
With Swamp Thing, the author did the unthinkable, he had a solid multi-year run that laid the groundwork and redefined one of DC’s strongest C-list heroes. Swamp Thing isn’t a joke anymore, he’s one of the best characters in all of comics. The writer helped him get there, and DC would be well-served if they let Swamp Thing sleep until the publisher has another idea that can touch Soule, Saiz, Javier Pina and the extended art team’s career defining run on the character with the same fervor and passion.