With “Swamp Thing” #40, another one of the “New 52” launch titles comes to a close as the looming “Convergence” event promises to shake up the DC Universe all over again. It’s a genuine shame to see the book come to an end; Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz’s run on the title, which tookk over from Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette, was nothing short of a delight. While parts of “Swamp Thing” #40 feel a little rushed — even with extra pages included — it’s a satisfying conclusion on the whole.
With a war between the Green and the Rot and Machine Kingdom conglomerate, Soule set the stage for a massive confrontation between the forces governing the planet, and “Swamp Thing” #40 delivers on that promise. It’s a massive battle with faces that we’ve seen throughout the series’ run and no shortage of fallen allies and enemies. Through it all, though, there are a few bits that stand out over others.
The part that most people will be talking about is Swamp Thing’s diversion into a realm that’s different than any we’ve seen before now. It’s a nod to creativity, both in comics creation and elsewhere, and — for such a long-running character — it feels more than a little apt here. It’s the kind of sidestep that wouldn’t have worked for most titles, but Soule and Saiz pull it off gracefully thanks to nailing just the right length and some delicately beautiful art depicting this kingdom to boot.
It’s also a little frustrating to get a big two-page splash near the end of the series that feels an awful lot like what we would have seen had the series lasted even six more issues. It’s a quick rundown of events to bring Swampy up to the big final confrontation with the transformed Lady Weeds and, while it would have been a lot better to see it all play out issue-by-issue, Soule and Saiz still make this about as satisfying as it can be. Perhaps more importantly, the wrap-up with the war against the Machine kingdom is archetypal “Swamp Thing,” with a strong win tied into a level of mercy that we wouldn’t have necessarily seen in another comic.
Saiz’s art, with a few pages inked by Javi Pina, pulls out a lot of the stops here, providing a huge amount of detail, especially in the scenes with the army of the Green’s avatars that were freed at the end of the previous issue. So many incarnations from over the years are here; who can’t cheer wildly at a Swamp Thing triceratops smashing through the scenery? Even constructed of foliage, Saiz takes the time to make each Green avatar have its own pattern of vegetation and unique makeup. It’s just one of the many examples of how Saiz’s talents were well used here. Even the panels in the big “this is what would have happened” spread are packed with detail; an army of Etrigans looks great and tantalizing, for example, and the Machine Queen is always beautifully alien, sleek and deadly.
“Swamp Thing” #40 wraps up a title that might not have been commercially viable enough to continue but was a creative goldmine of talent. It’s a genuine shame that it’s come to a close, but at least Soule and Saiz managed to do so on a high note. Hopefully, the duo will collaborate again before too long; their “Swamp Thing” run, once it got up and running, moved from one strength to the next. I suspect that, with all of the series wrapping up at DC Comics this month, this will end up being the most graceful conclusion.