Swamp Thing 25

swamp thing 25

Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing Swamp Thing 25, originally released November 6th, 2013.

Scott: Realistically, there are only so many emotional peaks and valleys you can hit in a single, 20-page comic book. A hero can only claim victory and suffer defeat so many times over the course of one battle. Right? Apparently Charles Soule never got the memo. Swamp Thing 25  is a true roller coaster ride, a microcosm of what the series has been like under Soule’s watch. He’s adept at painting himself into a corner with dramatic twists and turns, and then walking right through the wet paint like a total badass. Frankly, he has no time to wait around. If this issue proves anything, it’s that Soule is a man with a plan, and that plan involves shaking things up for good.

Oh hey, Mikyzptlk, long time no see! Just kidding. If it seems like we were just here discussing Swamp Thing, that’s because we were. A week removed from the fantastic Swamp Thing Annual 2 (essentially two issues rolled into one), we have Swamp Thing 25. As if I didn’t need more reason to worship Charles Soule, he gives me 60 awesome new pages over the course of 8 days?! Good god, I love this guy! OK, let’s get to the issue…

The moment has arrived- it’s time for Alec’s battle with Seeder, who shows up at the arena looking like this:

He might wanna get that checked out

Seeder immediately poisons the ground, eliminating Alec’s tactic of using the earth around him as an extension of his body. Seeder then spits a poisonous seed into Alec’s face, before literally stabbing him in the back and then kicking him through a portal- a portal to the Moon. Alec has nowhere to go, that is, until he remembers all of that ugly green stuff growing out of Seeder. Alec emerges from Seeder’s head and takes him down, effectively winning the fight. But the Green wants Alec to finish him. They try to take control of Alec’s body, but he is able to rip off his own leg before they can stomp Seeder’s head. Unimpressed with this lack of killer instinct, they retire Alec to the Green, making Seeder the new Avatar.

And thus ends Alec Holland’s reign as Avatar of the Green. Whoa. Turns out the advice Alec received from the former Avatars in the Annual didn’t serve him too well. The Lady Weeds taught Alec to think outside of his body, but Seeder was prepared for that strategy and struck preemptively by poisoning the earth (which, to be fair, Alec should have seen coming, seeing as Seeder met with Lady Weeds right after he did). But the advice Alec takes from the previous Avatar, the Blue Swamp Thing, is the real nail in the coffin. The Parliament of Trees has made it abundantly clear that it wants someone it can control, an Avatar that can be manipulated to do its bidding. Not someone who will say “no” when asked to do something that compromises his moral center. Seeder probably would have killed to become the Avatar, but Alec couldn’t, and that’s what made the difference.

The events of this issue are difficult to comprehend. Not only did Alec lose the the battle with Seeder, he lost his life. Alec wasn’t reaching his true potential as Avatar because he was hanging onto his humanity. Now, he’s lost the Avatar title and all remnants of the life he had before becoming Swamp Thing. This is why I never thought Alec would actually lose the fight- I didn’t think Soule would take away everything Alec has been holding onto. But it’s all part of his master plan. Soule has taken the relatively blank slate Scott Snyder left him with and created an entirely new world, and he’s done so with incredible efficiency. Just last month, Mikyzptlk and I were commenting on how little we knew of Jason Woodrue, and now he’s dethroned Alec Holland as Avatar of the Green. Go figure. Things change quickly under Soule.

Also changing quickly are the artists at the helm of these Swamp Thing issues. This time it’s Jesus Saiz, a regular member of the artist rotation, most recently appearing in the Villain’s Month issue. Saiz draws a powerful and mean-looking Swamp Thing- exactly the sort of beast you would hate to come up against in a gladiator-style fight to the death. But his imposing stature makes it all the more difficult to watch him accept defeat, like when he’s stranded on the Moon. Saiz beautifully draws up one of the loneliest images you’re likely ever to see: a creature dependent upon his connection to the Green, isolated on a rock barren of all plant life.

The less popular %22Moon Thing%22

I’m not sure why Seeder has a portal to the Moon. Maybe he really is the right choice for Avatar, if he’s got cool powers like that. I dunno, Mikyzptlk, I can’t say I agree with the Parliament of Tree’s decision, but I’m awfully interested to see whatever ridiculous plans Seeder puts into action as Avatar. How long do you give it before this whole thing blows up in the Parliament’s faces?

Mikyzptlk: Hey Scott! It does seem like we have been talking an awful lot about Swamp Thing lately. How lucky are we?!? Before I begin though, I must remind myself to take deep breaths after reading this issue, because I AM PISSED. I mean, I’m incredibly pissed. I can’t remember the last time that my emotions were so tied up into a work of fiction. Oh wait, yes I do. It was at the end of Swamp Thing 24! At the end of that issue, we find out that Seeder’s challenge was actually taken seriously by the Parliament. I couldn’t believe that the Parliament would betray Alec like that, which is exactly what Swamp Thing echos in his new issue.

Lies and BetrayalSo, I’ve only been reading Swamp Thing since his New 52 debut. However, Scott Snyder did such a wonderful job with his run that I’ve fully embraced Swamp Thing and his Amazing Friends. Snyder did a fantastic job of reintroducing the concept of Swamp Thing, while both respecting the past and embracing the future. In the end, Snyder left me emotionally invested with the character, and Charles Soule is using that investment for what I assume will be a huge emotional payoff.

All too often, I’m left cold when I know that the creative team of a particular comic (or other forms of fiction) want me to feel a certain way for whatever is happening in a particular story. However, Soule has been hitting the emotional nail on the head since his takeover, and this current arc is no exception.

Swamp Thing is between a tree and hard place now, as he has to defend his title while simultaneously feeling betrayed by those he’s fighting for. Seeing him standing in the image above (dramatically drawn by Saiz) is such a punch to the gut. He gave up his life as a human being for the Parliament, but it just isn’t enough for those heartless bastards! This is an insult. This is an indignity. Alec Holland, The Mother-Fuckin’ Swamp Thing, deserves better!

Emotionally, Charles Soule has me exactly where he wants me. Narratively, he’s got Swamp Thing exactly where he wants him too. Scott, you asked me how long I think it’ll be before the Parliament’s ludicrous decision blows up their collective face. All I can say is, it’ll be soon, since whatever Seeder has planned can’t be too good.

This is all conjecture at this point, so I’ll be brief, but we all know that Alec Holland isn’t truly down for the count. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him fight to reclaim his title in the issues to come. I’m also thinking that he’ll need to fight against the Parliament in order to do so. Man, if only our pal Swampy had some backup. Like the former Avatars perhaps?

Like I said, that’s just conjecture, but whatever Soule has coming up for Swamp Thing, I’m more than excited to find out!

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

9 comments on “Swamp Thing 25

  1. I’ll say it again, I am loving this book. I see this defeat of Swampy as a similar arc to Batman’s Knightfall; the new Avatar will be too brutal and wreak havoc, and our Swampy will have to rebuild himself to take out the pretender. Still, it’s damn cool, and it’s nice for once that the good guy loses BIG TIME, even though it kills me that Alec lost, it’s nice to have a different resolution than “good guy wins” in a superhero comic, even if we all know the loss is temporary.

    Also, I shared the same questions about the art is you guys so I did some digging and Jesus Saiz is credited for all upcoming issues of Swamp Thing currently visible on DC’s site, so I guess that settles it. I’m glad, although I liked Kano and Javier Pina, I think Saiz is my favortie of the 3.

    • Saiz has been on my “artists to watch” list since his work on Birds of Prey. His characters are expressive, his action is clear, but I’m most impressed by how he “blocks” and “shoots” his scenes. Dude has one of the best directorial eyes out there.

      • Perhaps because I didn’t read it in the 90’s when it was published, but I’m not a huge fan of Knightfall as a whole. The concept is cool but overall I can’t say I had a ton of fun reading it. Just my two cents.

        • I was surprised too when I saw it in that list. Not only because I remember it as an action packed story arc (and action packed stories usually are not called masterpieces), but also because it has been published in the ’90s, a period that many readers consider the worst era ever for comics. Thank you for your reply! : )

        • As much as lists can be helpful when you’re first getting into any hobby, at some point I find they become irelevant because a lot of it is just based on popularity and not actual merit. I don’t want to start a huge debate here but I can draw a comparison to the inevitable top 100/50/whatever best guitar solos ever lists that come out almost every year, where the solo in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” always gets a spot regardless of the fact that it is literally the same notes as the vocal melody. The Knightfall arc broke the Bat, therefore it is remembered as a big deal and included in these lists, regardless of the fact that much better stories which are a bit lesser known were probably never in contention.

        • I looked over your list quickly but I can’t comment much; it seems you and I are opposites: most of your list is Marvel, whereas I’m MUCH more familiar with DC.

    • I used to read more Marvel than DC, but, after the New 52 started, I totally changed my mind. Now I’m reading 7 DC series (Animal Man, Batman, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Swamp Thing and The Phantom Stranger) and only 3 Marvel series (Daredevil, Hawkeye, Thunderbolts). Thank you for your reply! : )

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