Swamp Thing #40
Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Jesus Saiz
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: March 4th, 2014
100 Years of Solitude.
This is the final issue to arguably the best New 52 series that has been running since the very start of the New 52. Swamp Thing began with Scott Snyder writing and Yanick Paquette making the art, some of the most beautifully thought out and written stories delving into Alec Holland, the love that binds him to the Green as well as restricts him from being with his true love, and the idea that there is a balance in the world and when the counter-parts of the Green (the Rot) upset this balance it is Holland’s duty to save the world and restore balance. After this epic tale of love and war, we were shown that there are more things to consider in the world concerning balance. We were introduced to the other kingdoms that make up the world (the Green, the Red, the Grey/Rot, the Clear/Blue, the Fungus and eventually the Machines) as well as how easy it can be to replace Holland as the avatar of the Green. Lot’s of cool stories lead up to the rise of the Machines and the beginning of the avatar for the Machines. With the advent of the Machines fighting alongside Fungus and the Rot to destroy the Green completely, we are dropped at the foot of issue #40.
Issue #39 leaves us with Anton Arcane (recruited by the Queen of the Machines) and infecting the Green’s swampy HQ with poison and escaping, leaving only the franken-husk of Alec Holland made from the Rot, Fungus and Machine. Issue #40 continues with Rot avatar Arcane escaping the swamp and returning to the newly constructed Machine tower, designed and constructed in the image of the Queen of the Machines. Alec confronts the recently resurrected parliament of the Green and asks for their assistance in this war as he knows he cannot fight this war on his own. He asks for some to join him in battle, and despite many being reluctant of Holland being the rightful avatar, they join him in battle while others remain to restore the Green to full power and remove the Rot’s poison. This launches the start of the inevitable war for balance in the world.
This issue is very meta as we are reading the overlying narration of a supposed author to this story explaining what is happening and why. Mid war, we see Swamp Thing crash landing into a Philadelphia library where to hide momentarily he realizes that books have paper, and paper is made from wood in which he can control and manipulate. Holland enters the book and quickly realizes that he has entered an undiscovered kingdom… the creative thought kingdom. At first you may think, how can creativity be a kingdom, but if you think about it ideas and choices play an important part in this world almost as important as machines or nature. Creativity shapes the world around us in many ways that can even encompass machines and life alike. A simple choice made from your thoughts can mean the difference between you living a simple stress free life or you living to become the next president/prime minister of the country. This idea that creativity exists as it’s own kingdom is a high concept that is really special in this moment as a doubtful Alec Holland looking for recluse finds out that winning this war is as easy as writing a novel, and that a thought or a choice can determine the fate of all. As it is written, so shall it be in essence.
With this new found outlook on life, Holland denies the Creativity kingdom’s offer to have himself succumb to the Creativity kingdom and simply write his way into winning history. Alec Holland decides to actively lead the war to victory and restore balance with will power and strength ultimately letting his story be written as the war goes on. The narration from the start of this issue is revealed to be a kingdom of it’s own telling the audience the story of the Swamp Thing which is a way to demonstrate the power of creativity. We are shown that much was sacrificed in the war for balance and that lots of allies as well as rivals of Alex Holland put themselves forward in order to stop this imbalance in the world (such as Jason Woodrue and Etrigan the Demon). The final pages of this story depict a peaceful utopia in the swamp with Swamp Thing reading the book ‘100 Years of Solitude’ which has a deep significance in regards to the overall theme and story of the Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing has been a beautiful story told over the past 3-4 years with some of the most spectacular art I have ever seen in comics (Yanick Paquette’s panel work and splash pages are overly phenomenal), as well as some of the most creative and highly conceptual writing coming from both Scott Snyder and Charles Soule. When the whole 40 issue series is put together you are left with one of the greatest stories ever told in comic book history, truly rivaling Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing in the 1980s. While both New 52’s run and Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing are both great in their own respect, I believe this New 52 series really gave the Swamp Thing lore a deep running important in the DC Universe much more than Alan Moore did. While Alan Moore pioneered the thought that Swamp Thing is the ultimate power and presence next to the Red and the Rot, Scott Snyder and Charles Soule pushed the boundaries of that idea and really encompassed all possible kingdoms that affect the world. Issue #40 captures the true essence and important of Swamp Thing and signs off with a love-letter to the concept of eternity in life (history repeating itself and the like), the conflict and depth behind the meaning of war and love, as well as leaves us with the idea that the Swamp Thing will always be there and that true utopia lies in perfect balance.
I rate the New 52’s Swamp Thing an all encompassing 10/10.
~ Tyler Head