Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing 24, originally released October 2nd, 2013.
Scott: Taking over a title from Scott Snyder can’t be easy, at least not as easy as Charles Soule is making it look. Soule has filled in admirably as the new writer of Swamp Thing, and the title is as much of a must-read now as it ever was under Snyder. Much of the allure has been generated by the mysterious villain Seeder, whose identity is finally revealed in Swamp Thing 24. Regardless of how you feel about the reveal, there’s no denying that it involves a remarkable callback to Snyder’s run- it’s a moment for which neither writer can take full credit. Could the reason the transition from Snyder to Soule has gone so smoothly be because they were planning this moment together, all along? Either way, the attention to detail ought to be enough to blow you away.
This issue picks up moments before the end of Swamp Thing 23 (crazy right?) Seeder discovers that Alec has been undoing his “generous” deeds, while Alec learns that Seeder has visited his swamp and injured Capucine; they both decide it’s time they had a little talk. Alec heads to The Grove, where Seeder is asking the Parliament of Trees to grant him more power. Alec attacks Seeder, knocking off his hood and revealing him to be (drumroll please) Jason Woodrue, the man who once helped save Alec from Anton Arcane. Alec has no memory of such an event, but the Parliament confirms that they gave Woodrue certain powers in exchange for his assistance. Alec demands Woodrue stop meddling with The Green, prompting Woodrue to angrily throw seeds at Alec, causing some crazy stuff to sprout from Alec’s gut.
Woodrue is handily winning the fight and Alec can’t understand why the Parliament of Trees isn’t stopping him. Finally, Capucine rushes in and saves Alec, but the Parliament is impressed with what they’ve seen: they decide that Alec and Woodrue will fight each other for the title of Avatar. Alec is understandably upset.
The reveal of Seeder’s identity is decidedly a big moment. Seeder is the first major villain of Soule’s Swamp Thing run, which has been stellar enough to set some pretty high expectations. But, for me, the name Jason Woodrue doesn’t carry much meaning. He hasn’t been a memorable character in the New 52 Swamp Thing, but as an editor’s note reminds us, he has appeared before. Woodrue made a brief cameo in Swamp Thing Annual 1. It looked like this:
My jaw dropped when I went back and read those panels. This reveal has been months in the making. It’s a pretty incredible set-up/payoff executed by multiple authors over the course of a year, and it goes to show you that no detail, no matter how small, should go unnoticed in this title. On the other hand, are we really supposed to believe Woodrue demanded all this power just for driving Alec to the airport? And The Parliament of Trees thought that was a fair deal? I’ve driven a lot of people to the airport, and I feel lucky if they throw me a few bucks for gas.
But The Parliament’s questionable decision making doesn’t stop there. Forcing Alec and Woodrue to fight for the Avatar title seems like far too rash a decision for such a wise and powerful group of trees (Possibly the worst tree-made decision since The Giving Tree offered up its trunk so a greedy a-hole could have a boat.) There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, but they really ought to sleep on this one. I mean, they know as well as Alec that Woodrue, as well-meaning as he may be, has done more harm than good to The Green.
Searching for an explanation as to why Parliament would do such a thing, I remembered a strange moment right after Parliament tells Woodrue that Alec is their champion, that they have made their choice.
I have no idea what to make of that. Does Woodrue have a secret ally within the Parliament? Has he worked some of his “Seeder magic” on the Parliament and is just waiting for it to kick in? All I know is, at this point, I’m not willing to let any little detail slip past me.
With that said, Mikyzptlk, I’m sure you can tell me about some details that surely have slipped past me. And, of course, I want to know how the Seeder reveal worked for you.
Mikyzptlk: Here’s the thing. That annual came out, like, a year ago. Unfortunately, I partied a bit too hard in college and there is just no way that I can remember a thing like the Woodrue scene you were so kind to show us, Scott. So, for me, the reveal fell flat. I kind of want to blame myself for it falling flat, but, again, that annual was a friggin’ year ago!
It’s hard enough for me to remember what happened a month ago, let alone a whole year. If it wasn’t for the editor’s note I wouldn’t have even known I had forgotten anything. Again, a part of me feels like I’m at fault here, but another part of me couldn’t help but feel that this particular payoff took too long to, well, pay off. Either way, it doesn’t really matter who the Seeder is because his very existence is spelling a whole lot of trouble for our old pal Swampy.
Now, here’s where I really get pissed. This time though, it’s not at the book, but on the behalf of its main character. I mean, what does a Swamp Thing have to do to get a little respect around here? Poor Alec Holland has been through a shit-ton in since his return to the DCU proper. Alec Holland has been resurrected (still cannon in my book), transformed into a monster, survived the threat of Rotworld, and returned home only to give up his humanity and the woman he loves. AND THE PARLIAMENT STILL ISN’T CONVINCED?!?
That is so messed up that I am just as infuriated as Swamp Thing is on the last page, gorgeously drawn by Andrei Bressan by the way. If I was ready to drop this book some time soon (which I’m most certainly not), Charles Soule would have hooked me back in only to see Swamp Thing punch Seeder right in his smug, mossy face.
Scott, you mentioned that Soule is making the transition over from Snyder look easy, and I you are spot on with that observation. This still feels very much like the character I followed under Snyder’s pen, evidenced by how upset I became over the notion that the Parliament of Trees still isn’t completely convinced.
Speaking of the Parliament, I do find it a bit odd that the Parliament of Trees can be so easily manipulated. For a bunch of wise and ancient tree…things, you’d think they’d be more steadfast and unified with their choices of Avatar. Come to think of it, isn’t a very similar thing going on with Animal Man right now and the Parliament of Limbs? You know, I think it’s time our heroes start taking charge of their own destinies a bit more. Maybe by getting rid of these pesky Parliaments? Enough with the daydreams though, Soule has thoroughly pissed me off with this issue in the best way possible, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes with this story next.
Knock Seeder’s block off Swampy!
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