Charles Soule’s time on “Swamp Thing” moves from strength to strength, and “Swamp Thing” #33 with Javier Pina on art is a great example of why the book works. When Soule needs to present a massive exposition dump, the end result could have been mind numbing — but instead he shows how well it can actually work.
Most of this issue is devoted to finding out exactly what the Wolf and Lady Weeds have been up to since being released from the Parliament of Trees. Of the three survivors from Swamp Thing’s destruction of the group of former avatars, these two have been untrustworthy from the start, even as Swamp Thing continues to shelter them. And while Lady Weeds showed her hand at the end of the previous issue, this new installment pushes everything up a new level.
What’s great about this is that the book spends most of the issue showing their plans, and what is and is not working. Soule doesn’t lose track of the fact that the issue needs to be exciting, though; what we get is a book where the narration is exposition, but the scenes that play out alongside them are showing rather than simply telling. It’s a reasonable enough approach, but Soule makes it feel natural. More importantly, this is more than just showing plans; readers see them pan out, and a switch as one background player becomes the new controller. That’s what makes this especially work so well; once we understand everything that’s happened behind the scenes up until now, it makes the shift in power that much more important.
Pina’s work on “Swamp Thing” is just as good as his other contributions on the title to date. He’s given a lot to tackle here: fights in the grain fields, the arctic tundra, the jungles. Add in some wonderful, Cthulhu-esque tentacle demons and it’s a surprisingly fun book visually. The little moments under Pina also work well; for instance, the “We had a deal!” moment wouldn’t have been half as entertaining if it wasn’t for the Wolf’s expression of disbelief when he discovers what’s going on. Every page looks lush and green under Pina’s pencils and inks, and the end result is a comic that’s continually gorgeous.
“Swamp Thing” #33 was another fun, solid, entertaining issue. In many ways it’s just a setup for what’s still to come, but you know what? I wish all setup was this entertaining. An above average issue just in terms of quality, and notable in addition for how well it handles the, “Here’s what’s going on” backstory. As an added bonus, if you’re a new reader, this is as good a place as any to jump on board.