There isn’t much fun to be had in the DC Universe. That’s not to say that the titles they are putting out aren’t enjoyable, in fact quite the opposite is true. There are a lot of great books from both of the “big two” right now, but the one area that Marvel is leaps and bounds ahead of DC in is “fun books.” It could be broken down and examined under the fundamental difference between each of the publishers’ characters; Marvel’s characters are reactive, whereas DC’s are more proactive. So, in essence characters that are trying to live their lives, and then when things go wrong they suit up and try to save the world (Marvel), might just have more room and opportunities to engage in shenanigans that will be fun for the reader. The proactive approach of DC’s characters sees their heroes actively seeking out crime and injustice, and their civilian alter egos take a back seat. Another consideration is also that lately it seems like DC really want to embrace the dark and gritty approach of the modern age of comics.
Despite all of this, Charles Soule has found a way to put out a really fun book at DC with his recent run on Swamp Thing. It seemed like Soule was going to have some rather large shoes to fill by taking over the title after Scott Snyder left, especially since Swamp Thing was getting the most attention, hype and praise since the Alan Moore days. The ending of Snyder’s “Rot World” arc fell a little flat in a lot of readers’ minds, and suddenly the idea of dropping the title after he left (Let’s not kid ourselves, we all heard people making this claim) started to dissipate. So now, not only were people who had no plans of removing the title from their pull list going to keep reading, there was a new demographic of people willing to see what the new writer would do in his first issue, and ever since Swamp Thing #19 Soule has been delivering the goods.
Issue #23 sees the end of the two part “Whiskey Tree” story, and things are just as crazy as they were in the previous issue. Since taking over the title, this is probably Soule’s darkest foray into the Green. The whiskey producing tree that was planted by the Seeder is still causing the village’s residents to turn into violent and uninhibited savages, think a more articulate version of the infected from 28 Days Later. John Constantine is reveling in his self appointed position as king, and the panels with him still wearing his make shift crown from a broken whiskey bottle add some comedic relief. The issue’s biggest weak point is that the “Whiskey Tree” story wraps up a little too neat and conveniently, but in doing so it helps set up the bigger confrontation that’s been brewing between Swamp Thing and the Seeder, and that last page really sets the scope of the upcoming story after Villains Month.
Soule owes a large part of what makes this title so enjoyable to artist Kano. The expansion of Swamp Thing as a mantle that has been taken up by various “avatars of the Green” prior to Alec Holland means that we are getting a lot of different renditions of other Swampies before. Not just that, but Soule is subjecting Holland to various horrors, along with expanding his powers to traverse through the Green. In this issue he has Kano draw a dismembered, and almost disintegrated Swamp Thing as he tries to escape his imprisonment.
Between Villains Month, and the upcoming battle with the Seeder, Charles Soule and Kano are shaping up to be another one of DC’s “dream teams” of writer and artist.
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