Story: Mark Russell
Art: Marco Santucci
Colors: John Kalisz
Letterer: Comicraft’s Jimmy B
What They Say:
Swamp Thing refuses to let an unjust death go unpunished.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The standalone nature of Swamp Thing is one of the things that was appealing about it during its Vertigo run years ago outside of interacting with a few other characters from the same label. Mark Russell has opted to keep Swampy separate from the regular superhero universe overall here and it plays well because we can go big as it does here and it feels right. Marco Santucci is definitely up for that job as he gets to present a possible future where the cult that follows Swamp Thing makes clear their intentions while also seeing how Swampy himself imagines things. The reality is that a character like this is massively overpowered and capable with few real limits placed on them and that can and should lead to interesting story tensions like this.
Swampy’s dealing with the cultists is interesting at first as we hear their pitch that places him as god of the world and it’s like an earworm for him in that he starts to imagine it more. Cities covered in plant growth, few people around and largely meek and subservient, the planet getting a much-needed rest and chance to recover. But he also knows plants have been here since before people and will be after them as well, but he’s losing more and more touch with the human side that makes up who he is and it’s becoming harder to adjust for that. He’s far less interested in dealing with people than before as well and there’s still that kind of rock star aspect that have people searching for him in the swamp and just wanting to see him like a celebrity. And that makes him even grouchier than usual.
Where things take a turn for the really bad here is that Sunderland’s research department has manage to synthesize their own swamp things that create food themselves, basically semi-alive slave labor for sustainable food. And they roll the damn thing out without doing a lot of real research, which is the comic-booky aspect of the issue. But what it does is send a wave of anger through Swamp Thing as he views them as his children, having been cut from him, and intends to basically tear the place down. There’s a lot of good pent-up anger that plays out on his journey there and moments that help to shift him away that feel nature and right, but it ends by posing a tough question on people who generally do not make the best choices – especially when it betters their own lives even if it makes someone or something else’s worse. While the optimist in my sees how the issue will play out, the cynic in me sees how reality would handle this.
Mark Russell has been building nicely to a couple of neat points and directions he can take to the character while not going down dark Vertigo-like territory. The stuff with Swamp’s kids come a little close to that but it’s such a quick even that it doesn’t have the impact to really land in a big way, at least for older audiences. There’s a lot to like here and I kind of want to see a Swamp Thing World storyline unfold where he does take over and tries to put things right in his view. Especially if we can get someone like Santucci to illustrate the hell out of it because it’d look great. A solid issue that leaves me thinking of so many possibilities and directions it could go…
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: DC Comics via Kindle and ComiXology
Release Date: May 24th, 2020