Swamp Thing Annual #3

"Swamp Thing Annual" #3 lets Charles Soule, Javier Pina, Carmen Carnero, Dave Bullock and Yanick Paquette wrap up one of the title's plotlines -- that of the soon-to-die Capucine and the battle for her soul -- in a longer, roomier format. But in doing so, it feels like this story ends up losing some of its bite in an anticlimactic fashion.

As funny as it may sound, the problem here feels almost like Soule was given too much space to tell this particular story. There's not necessarily enough material here to fill up a full annual, and as a result we some little side stories, drawn out fights, and an overall slowing of the pace as Swamp Thing prepares to fight the Demon in order to rescue Capucine's soul as her thousand-year lease on life winds down.

With each new page, though, the urgency trickles away bit by bit. The end result is a little too drawn out a sequence, one where we're given the answer and then have to wait to see everything finish playing out. I'll give Soule credit that when he pulls all of the information together, readers who were paying attention will have seen it all (and perhaps pieced it together on their own); there aren't any tricks or fake-outs here, it's all been up front and waiting to be thought through. But with that in mind, this book should have moved at a slightly faster clip, alas.

Still, getting more art from Pina is always a good thing, to say nothing of his artistic collaborators. Pina and Carnero work well together; the art throughout the book is very smooth and graceful, and the flashback to the birth of the Demon not only looks deliberately different, it actually brings to mind artists like Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke. That's good company to be within. Bullock handles the art in the movie theatre sequence fairly well; for what feels like a throwaway gag come to life, it's entertaining primarily because Bullock takes such a cornball concept and makes it fun to look at. It's also wonderful to see earlier series artist Paquette come back even if it's just for a two-page spread to wind down the comic; those pages burst to life in a graceful and enticing manner, one that sells Soule's idea on what Capucine's ultimate fate would be. It's been too long since we've seen art from Paquette, especially when it looks like this.

"Swamp Thing Annual" #3 lacks the amount of punch that Soule's comics normally contain. The art looks good, but the script itself doesn't live up to its own promise. Soule's idea here is good, but this feels like a regular issue that's been forced into the longer, bulkier Annual format. That's a real shame, because the fit just doesn't work.

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