My impression of the prolific Charles Soule so far is that he’s definitely a competent writer with occasional flashes of genuine cleverness. Yet there’s something about his writing that tends to feel just a bit too calculated at times. Like he’s sticking as close as he can to the prescribed notions of how the story he’s telling should play out, but trying to show off as best he can within its margins. That not really a bad thing and it’s the case here in this latest volume of “Swamp Thing” as the identity of Seeder is revealed, and it’ll likely be a pleasant surprise for longtime fans of the title character. I liked how the-character-who-is-Seeder is reinvented here as a kind of groupie fanboy for Swamp Thing. He wants to make the world a better place with his abilities, except he has no real understanding of the consequences of their use. It’s this conflict that forms the main dramatic arc of this volume as the title character has to prove beyond a doubt that he’s a better Avatar of the Green than Seeder to the Parliament of Trees and the Green itself.
Soule does a decent job of condensing this story into a brisk adventure without dragging it out any more than necessary. Anyone who has read this far (or read comics for an extended period of time) will be able to guess how this conflict will be resolved by the end of the volume. Yet the writer throws in a good, but not entirely shocking twist halfway through to keep the reader in adequate suspense. There are also some interesting characters lurking around the edges of the story, such as the pompous Wolf and utterly amoral Lady Weeds, both former Avatars with their own thoughts on how things should be done in the Green. We also get a nice bit of meta-commentary as Swamp Thing meets a former Avatar who should be instantly familiar to anyone who has read the definitive comics featuring this character. The encounter leaves the current Swamp Thing with a mind to do things differently, and even if this title doesn’t shake things up to the legendary heights of the Alan Moore era it’s still an entertaining horror/fantasy comic set in the DC Universe. (On that note, the fight with Animal Man was fun too.)