Swamp Thing #19
It’s big shoes to fill, following up Scott Snyder‘s epic run on Swamp Thing. At first, I was convinced I’d drop the series, but that was before Charles Soule was announced as the new writer. My hopes for a continuation of the solid run rose, but it’d be interesting to see where the series went after the epic (almost too long) Rotworld storyline. Here, we get the first seedlings planted as to where Soule will take the character and series.
The good is that at the end of Rotworld, we basically got a reboot. The new writer had little that had to be carried over, instead being able to create their own path, a lucky break. Soule dives right into the new direction. His Swamp Thing is more eco-warrior traveling the world keeping “the green” in balance and making sure things don’t go wrong or tip, much like the previous 18 issues focused on. But, the series also is part of DC’s WTF month with “shocking” moments. Not really sure what was so shocking about this one, but it’s a solid kick off, so even with that gimmick, it’s a great first issue.
The set up is that there’s some mysterious character roaming the planet planting seeds and giving life where there might not have been any. This threatens to throw everything off-balance. So the mystery is, who is doing this and why? But, more importantly the decisions Swamp Thing must make are both interesting and set up a lot about the difficult decisions a hero must make. He’s forced to take away what seems good, which allows him to ponder the whole role of a super hero.
This all eventually leads Swamp Thing to Metropolis and a run-in with Scarecrow, a character you don’t normally associate with the character. There’s some interesting back and forth that sets up a meeting between Swamp Thing and Superman in the next issue. This is all good, as Swamp Thing has generally been apart from the DC universe and maybe we’re finally seeing better integration of the character, something that hasn’t really occurred in the last 18 issues.
Overall, the issue is a perfect jumping on point for new readers and doesn’t throw all that’s come before out the window for us previous readers. It seems like we’re getting a nice mix of the old gothic horror, that relies much on philosophy and pondering greater meaning, but also a folding in of the greater DCU. It’ll be great to see how the DC universe handles Swamp Thing.
This is a great start as to what continues to be one of the best series of the new-52.
Story: Charles Soule Art: Kano
Story: 8.25 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy
Animal Man #19
Animal Man, like Swamp Thing has been stuck in a major event Rotworld and is finally moving on. But, unlike Swamp Thing, the series has ramifications it must deal with that is sending it in a new direction and one that’s a welcome voice in the greater comic world.
This series saw the death of Buddy Baker’s son, and this issue follows up directly, with the funeral and family dynamic that now exists. The series has through its latest run, dealt with the family and the impact of being a super hero has on it. How can a family deal with being in danger all the time? Many series touch on it, but the solution is to make sure no one finds out who your close friends and family is. Instead this series actually deals with that, putting the family in the target and dealing with the messy results.
Those results are a fractured family and a hero who must choose which life to live. His wife has rejected him, his daughter still must deal with being the next Avatar of the Red, Buddy has to decide where he wants to go from here.
The issue is, he’s embraced being a celebrity, something that’s been hinted at, but not shown a lot. Paparazzi are hunting him down to get his reaction over the death of his son. This leads Buddy to confront the Red with a very interesting result.
The series has so much going for it right now, mining a direction and story that few other comics have bothered to look at from this angle and in this way. It may feature a character in spandex, but this isn’t your usual cape and tights comic. It’s so much more, bringing an adult perspective and voice to it all.
Like Swamp Thing, Animal Man continues to be one of the top DC comics right now, and might be one of the best super hero comics of any company. This is a perfect starting point for new readers, and I highly recommend folks check it out.
Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Steve Pugh
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy