Ever since the current series began, the battle of the various Kingdoms that make up life on the planet has been one of "Swamp Thing's" recurring themes. Green (plantlife), Red (animals), Gray (fungi), Rot and now Metal are all at war and, while "Swamp Thing: Futures End" gave us one possibility on how it will all end, Charles Soule and Javi Pina continue that battle in the present day.
In many ways, what works well here is what has worked well for Soule's entire run on "Swamp Thing" to date: a combination of building on past ideas as well as coming up with original and new takes on those concepts. "Swamp Thing" #38, for example, uses the merging of Lady Weeds and the Metal Kingdom to give us not only a dangerous new Avatar but also a way to bring back an old Swamp Thing foe: the Un-Men. It's a slightly different take on the concept, so new readers aren't lost even as older readers will see and recognize them.
The idea that the various Kingdoms are at their strongest when working in unison with others has been another concept we've seen a lot of in "Swamp Thing," and that's on display here as well. It took the combined forces of Green and Red to defeat Rot in the "Rotworld" crossover, for instance, and here we're seeing how a former Green Avatar combined with the Metal machines is making the latter much more dangerous and lethal than we'd experienced before. It's nice to see this theme continue forward under Soule even as he provides his own twists.
In this issue, Pina steps in for Jesus Saiz and -- similar to most other guest artists -- it fits in well with the overall look that Saiz has established for the title. Pina's art is smooth and graceful, even as we get hard edges with all the machines and Un-Men that are in this title. Pina handles the "all around the world" sequence with great ease, and the Un-Man that startles Swamp Thing looks wonderfully off-putting in particular. Pina's one of those artists that makes you wonder why we don't see him on a monthly title; he certainly has the chops for it.
It's sad to see "Swamp Thing" coming to a close with "Convergence" in the spring, but Soule's making sure that the book ends with a bang. I look forward to the remaining issues still to come even as I enjoy this one.