Even though the Alec Holland Swamp Thing died in last month’s issue, that doesn’t mean the book is over, and it doesn’t even mean he’s gone, as Charles Soule continues his epic, surprising run with another great issue that shows just how wrong a choice Jason Woodrue is as the new Avatar, as well as detailing his New 52 origins in greater detail. Plus, Animal Man shows up! Yay for Animal Man!
But first of all, why the heck is Alec still around? Well, as we’ve seen throughout both Soule and Snyder’s runs, the current Swamp Thing can consult with previous ones and get advice, Alec is now one of those previous ones, and is forced to watch as Woodrue goes around basically being a dick. The first thing the new ‘evil’ Swamp Thing does is go and see the mysterious Capucine, who he threatens, and causes to run off. The character of Capucine has been around for quite a while now without really doing anything, so I’m ready for her to actually matter, but for now, this was a good scene, as it showed how much of a villain Woodrue really is.
After this, to show how strong he is to the Green, Woodrue decides he needs to attack another Avatar, and he goes after Animal Man, who he believes is the Avatar of the Red. Of course, Animal Man isn’t the Avatar (that honour goes to his daughter, Maxine, if for some reason you’re not reading Animal Man), but that doesn’t mean he can’t handle himself in a fight. It was awesome to see these two Avatars really go at it, with Woodrue at first killing all of the animals for miles around, believing that would block A-Man’s powers. It doesn’t, as he underestimates Animal Man, who can stretch his powers further, and become an ant, to give himself strength, become a worm to heal himself, and become eagle, flying up with Woodrue, and dropping him into the forest. It’s always awesome when Animal Man truly reaches his bad-ass potential, and he did so here.
Throughout this issue, Alec Holland looks back at Woodrue’s life, trying to see how he ended up the way he is. Woodrue was a student, fascinated by plants, and the possibility of their being consciousness behind them, ie, the Green. A college professor introduced him to the idea of the Avatar, tying it into real world ‘Green Man’ myths, which is pretty awesome, and Woodrue spent his life searching for the Parliament of Trees. In the end, he found them, but he wasn’t allowed to become Avatar, but the Parliament did keep an eye on him, and enlisted him to save Alec Holland’s life. There was an awkward moment where Holland sees something from the past that had been erased from his memory, like the retcon slapping you right in the face, but it works mostly. As a reward for saving Holland, Woodrue was given his ‘Seeder’ powers, but it wasn’t enough, and he travelled the world looking for ways to become more powerful, doing bad things for bad people, until, well, he got the power to do what he’s been doing since the start of Soule’s run.
The issue ends with Woodrue, furious at being beaten by Animal Man, and desperate to impress the Green, finding a logging factory in Peru, and just crushing it, bringing it down, and causing blood to just seep into the river. It was a dark, fucked up way to end the issue, and I can’t wait to see where Soule is going. How is Alec Holland going to come back? I have no idea.
This title is just consistently excellent, and part of that is the art from Jesus Saiz, just so good, and surprisingly violent. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m putting my neck out… Soule’s Swamp Thing is better than Snyder’s. Yeah, I said it!