Following last month’s transfer of power from Alec Holland to Jason Woodrue, “Swamp Thing” #26 stars the all-new Swamp Thing as he tries to make his mark on the DC Universe by attacking Animal Man. But of course, nothing is quite as easy as it seems, and even as Woodrue tussles with Buddy Baker, Alec learns more about Woodrue’s path from scientist to Seeder to Swamp Thing.
Having Alec narrate Woodrue’s story is an interesting compromise that works far better than one might have expected it to. Alec’s viewpoint results in “Swamp Thing” #26 still having (for lack of a better word) a heroic voice, even as it focuses on the increasingly villainous Woodrue. It gives the reader someone to cheer for, even as things go badly with Woodrue as the new Swamp Thing.
One thing to especially appreciate is that Woodrue is a classic case of the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. It’s a path that we’ve seen him on ever since the Seeder storyline began; Woodrue isn’t twirling a stereotypical mustache and trying to be awful, but rather you see his intentions and then how he manages to choose the worst possible way to achieve that. Trying to kill Animal Man is a great example; his goal isn’t so much to go out and murder someone, but rather to impress the Green. And what better way, in Woodrue’s mind, to do so than to destroy the avatar of the Red? It’s that sort of awful logic that makes Soule’s story entrancing, because you know what whatever Woodrue does will ultimately be far worse than anyone else would have made it.
It’s been nice to have Saiz back on the art for “Swamp Thing.” The book has been fortunate in a series of top-notch fill-in artists, but with that in mind I’ve appreciated Saiz’s art long enough that getting new comics from him is a big plus. I sometimes forget how good Saiz is with action sequences. When Woodrue strikes Buddy, the poses are pretty perfect. Buddy’s body sailing back towards the reader feels energetic thanks to the arc of his body, and I love how Woodrue’s new plant body is bracing itself in its legs even as the torso and arms have moved as part of the follow through from the strike. And when we get the climactic scene in Peru, the way that Saiz draws the attack comes across as very primal and awe-inspiring; it’s a huge moment that Saiz gives the right level of destructive impact.
“Swamp Thing” #26 is another strong issue by a strong creative team. This latest development feels natural and interesting, and I’m curious to see what Soule and Saiz have up their proverbial sleeves. Once again, one of the best books published by DC Comics these days.