Review: Swamp Thing #21

Swampy 21Swamp Thing, no matter its iteration, has always been a good thing, pushing the envelope of the then Comic Code Authority back in the 1970s and 1980s, and a big slap in the face to people who thought superheroes had to wear spandex and capes. The botanical incarnation known as Swamp Thing is probably best known from the work of comics superstar Grant Morrison, though a number of other big names (Alan Moore, Len Wein, Brian K. Vaughn, Scott Snyder, and twelve others) have penned various Swamp Thing books across its five volumes.

I have to say that I was nervous to see Snyder and Yanick Paquette leave the book, since they brought a richness to Swamp Thing that made the book popular on the market, but also artistically intense. But Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz (filling in for Kano), continue to make this book a sweet-and-savory treat for the eyes and ears.

Swamp Thing #21 features the character Capucine, a new character who looks almost exactly like Holland’s love, Abigail, who died in the end of the Rotworld arc (Swamp Thing #18). Capucine’s a badass swordfighter and seemingly immortal, and she introduces a new concept when she invokes Sanctuarium folium viride (‘santuary of the green leaf,’ and the Latin is correct for all you linguaphiles). Holland, who’s new to the whole Swampy gig (he was re-introduced in the end of the Brightest Day mega-series back in 2011, and is in fact the central character, in some ways), seeks knowledge form the Green’s Parliament of Trees.

We get zoomed back in time, and Soule teaches an important lesson about religious tolerance, showing us a witch burning in France during the 1000s, where a previous Swamp Thing intervenes to save the witches, who invoked religious asylum on account of the condemning nature of their belief in pagan gods and nature spirits. Also, there’s a Catholic Inquisitor, despite the Inquisition not appearing for several hundred years, and the dialogue between him and then-Swampy is edifying for those still pushing the envelope of religious orthodoxy.

Swamp Thing #21 is thoughtfully written, and Jesus Saiz captures the striking pages and intricate, botanical panel designs pioneered by Paquette in earlier New 52 issues of this book (I wouldn’t mind plastering my wall with prints of these). On the whole, Swamp Thing is a book you should be collecting, or at the very least reading—beautiful, literary, eloquently devised, and, besides, the meta-humans make for much cooler heroes than the supers (in my opinion).

Story: Charles Soule  Art: Jesus Saiz
Story: 8.5  Art: 9  Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy