The New 52 has not been my cup of tea. Some books have been better than others, but few will go down as truly memorable in my opinion. Swamp Thing has been an exception. The best thing DC did in the last few months before the New 52 started was to reincorporate the character into the main DC universe, after years of sporadic use in the Vertigo line. Scott Snyder started the book, and his run was quite good. Charles Soule took over at issue 19, and through a combination of continuing Snyder’s ideas and his own storytelling flourishes, has raised this volume of Swamp Thing to one of the best books being published today. Jesus Saiz has been the predominant artist used through Soule’s tenure, and he may have earned the title of this generation’s preeminent Swampy artist.
Now that I have pumped you, intrepid reader full of the need to go out and start this series, here lays the bad news. Issue 40, is the last. DC is heading towards it’s Convergence event, and in doing so is ending certain series whilst starting new ones. Luckily, the inevitable ending of stories is worked into the plot of this last issue in an ingenious way. Swampy and Abigail Arcane are preparing to take down the Rithm, which is the newly formed kingdom of metal. Lady Weeds, former Avatar of the Green, has been reborn as Avatar of the Rithm, a kingdom comprised of machinery and artificial intelligence. Swamp Thing has to use all of his tricks, including freeing the army of former Green Avatars that he imprisoned earlier in the series to help in his fight to save the Earth from the destructive forces of the Rithm. The book comprises of the battle between these two forces. When things look darkest, Swampy and the actual narrative of the book converge, doing something rarely seen in comics, and even more rarely done well. The wall that separates fiction and reality is blurred, and the true nature of Swamp Thing’s existence is explored, as a character in a story. Swampy meets the denizens of another kingdom, never named, but representing the art of story. This twist does not sacrifice the main plotline, because the Rithm battle is resolved, The last page is one of the simplest, yet most memorable I can remember in a finale in quite some time. To answer a comment made about last pages of stories in the narrative of this issue, it truly lives.
The only way I can summarize this issue, and series in total is that I am going to miss putting this book at the top of my to read list every 4 or so Wednesdays. Hopefully DC decides to begin publishing a new ST series sooner than later. My only fear is for the creators who tread in the wake of Soule and Saiz. Good luck to whomever decides to pick up where this left off.
5 Philadelphia Libraries of 5