Writer: Charles Soule
I've gradually became a bigger fan of Swamp Thing since I bought Swamp Thing: Raise Them Bones, and then started getting the series from Rotworld, and although I was disappointed with the ending of Rotworld, Scott Snyder compinsated with his final issue on the series (Swamp Thing #18), and I was sad to see him leave the series. I was in two minds as to whether or not I was going to continue getting the series, but decided that I'd give it a try, hoping that the change in creative team doesn't mean a change in quality.
Swamp Thing (Alec Holland) is tasked with protecting the Green, even if that leads to the death of humans. Conflicted with this Swamp Thing travels to Metropolis to get advice from Superman, but bumps into Scarecrow instead.
This was a brilliant starting issue for the new creative team, and Charles Soule did a fantastic job of introducing Swamp Thing in a different style of story, whilst also showing the effects that Rotworld has had on him. I have to say I have never read anything that Soule has written before, and although I've heard that his Twenty Seven series was meant to be good, having not read it myself I didn't know what to expect from his writing. Although I still much prefer the way Snyder wrote the series (even the way he started his run), I do however like that Soule has taken Swamp Thing in a different direction, as it makes Snyder's run feel complete, whilst also making the the series as a whole feel unique (and I never expected Soule to be better than Snyder anyway). I also liked how Soule continued to show that there were lots of emotions in Alec, whilst also showing that he's not quite as driven as he used to be, which was nice, as it shows the depth of the character.
The art in this issue was overall brilliant, and although I still much prefer Yanick Paquette's art (I doubt anyone will draw Swamp Thing better than Paquette), this has probably been the next best. Although I was unfamiliar with Soule's work, I am familiar with Kano's, and although it's still not as familiar as with work from other artists, the art I have seen from Kano (The Immortal Iron Fist) has been brilliant, and I was happy to hear that he'd be working on this series. Kano's artwork was simply brilliant, and although there were a few things that I was initially concerned about at first glance, whilst reading through the entire issue I started to appreciate the art, and the style that Kano brings. The detail was also fantastic, as everything looks so smooth, and clear, and even when the characters are at a distance, Kano's still drew them in a way that makes them stand out, and look realistic. I especially liked how Kano drew the scenery, as everything looked amazing, and whether Swamp Thing was in the Sudan desert, or Metropolis, it always looked fabulous (although I personally preferred the way Kano drew the desert). The only character that I wasn't as fond of drawn by Kano was the Scarecrow, as although I've seen worse, this is still by far the best depiction of the character. In saying that Kano did do a brilliant job of showing the Scarecrow's emotions, as a lot of artists don't manage to do that.
The two things that I loved most about this issue was that it was very reader friendly, being the perfect starting point for new readers (although you expect that from new writers), and that it explored the Green more. Whilst Snyder worked on the series the story was heavily revolved around the Green, and the Rot, but he never really took a great lot of time to actually explore the nature of it, showing the overall depth of the Green. There was however one small negative side to this, and that was the monologue from Alec. I was actually in two minds about it, as it was very interesting, and explored the concept brilliantly, but at the same time it did slow the issue down a bit, which was a bit disappointing, but overall it wasn't a terrible thing.
Story wise the best thing about this issue was that we got to see a moral dilemma within Alec, as he knows what he's doing isn't good for humanity, but at the same time he needs to preserve the Green, and is meant to keep it as natural as possible. Although I personally see this change in Swamp Things behaviour as a bit soon, I do like that it's showing that Swamp Thing'Alec's taking his role as the avatar for the Green very seriously, but I especially loved that the main focus was that at the end of the day he was still a man (even if not technically).
Metropolis was beautiful in this issue, and although I preferred the way Kano drew the desert, as it looked much more edgy, I did however still think that the way he drew the flowers in the Metropolis Botanical Gardens was beautiful. That was another thing that I really liked, that unlike most Metropolis set stories that have the characters going around the streets, this one had it all set in a Botanical Garden, which played right into Swamp Thing's hands, making the series still feel more centred around him.
Scarecrows appearance in this story was brilliant, and although I said I had minor problems with the way Kano drew the character, I had not problems with the way Soule wrote him. What I loved most about Scarecrows appearance was that Soule added him in a way that plays to the Swamp Thing character, having him collecting plants for his Fear Toxin. This lead to a brilliant conversation between Scarecrow and Alec, which was brilliant, and very dramatic, and what really made this sequence as good as it was. I did however find it curious that Scarecrow was in Metropolis, but as he said the flowers he was looking for are rare, so probably don't grow in Gotham City, plus it's not unusual for villains to change scenery once in a while. Another thing I liked about Scarecrows appearance was that it acknowledged his part in Justice League of America #2, showing that the whole DCU is connected, and that the timelines are in sync.
Superman's appearance was actually a bit disappointing, as he didn't really appear at all. I do however look forward to seeing him feature more as the story progresses, and found it interesting that Solue has featured Superman in his first issue, just like Snyder did.
This was a brilliant start for the new creative team, but it still wasn't quite as good as the work Snyder, and Paquette produced on the series, but it's still early days, and I'm sure Soule, and Kano will become a brilliant team. This issue was very interesting, and although it wasn't as fun as it could have been, it did show some fun elements, which was nice, as mostly Swamp Thing is a dark story, wit ton's of emotion (although this still had emotion). I would easily recommend this to both current Swamp Thing readers that are sceptical over the new creative teams, and new readers wondering if this story's a good jumping on point (which it is).