Hey there everyone, Andy Luckett here with a review of Swamp Thing #32, written by Charles Soule with art by Jesus Saiz, Matthew Wilson and Travis Lanham. And guest-starring Aquaman!
When we last left this story, Aquaman and Swamp Thing had come to blows over a recent algae bloom in the oceans caused by Swamp Thing (and by "blows", I mean Aquaman summoning alligators to rip Swamp Thing's body apart). Of course Swampy can always build a new body, and as this issue begins he has fashioned himself a snappy ensemble out of kelp and other sea plants in order to investigate a strange presence in the waters off the Philippines.
Tell me that isn't a Random Panel of the Day in the making!
Swamp Thing confronts Arthur about his unwillingness to trust him. He replies that he doesn't know ST, and that he had to think of the welfare of his kingdom. As a rebuttal, Swamp Thing reminds him that plants have existed underwater long before humans, and that the oceans are really his kingdom. As he leaves he advises Aquaman, "don’t push it."
I found myself of two minds about this issue. Plot-wise, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Aquaman and Swamp Thing in a battle of wills over the best way to end the destruction of this rogue consciousness led to some interesting conflict (the scene with the dugongs was highly inventive and a nice mirror to the alligator attack during the two characters' last meeting.
However, I had a few qualms about character depiction, particularly with Aquaman. Headstrong has always been a facet of Arthur's psychology (though not to the extremes of Namor--most of the time) but it is usually tempered by thoughtfulness and intelligence. This story, in my opinion, swung the pendulum a bit too much toward the "shoot first and no need for questions, I’m the King" side, and it made Aquaman seem like he was having a tough week to begin with, and was a little tired of all this nonsense. Maybe that's just me, but it did feel that Swamp Thing had the lionfish's share of the sanity and reason in this crossover.
Visually speaking, I have no reservations. Jesus Saiz and the art team's take on Arthur's uniform subtly morphs the gold scalemail into more of a pumpkin-orange armor-plating look, giving it a slight military bearing. Very appropriate, I think. And one of my favorite aspects of the Swamp Thing character is his ability to build himself a body from the local plant life wherever he is; in this case, algae and kelp. It makes for great visuals, and a character that isn’t confined to one nailed-down look. The underwater coloration is subtle and the attention to detail on aquatic flora and fauna is impressive. I wouldn't mind seeing this art team doing more work in Aquaman's world sometime.
Overall, I wouldn't call this crossover a slam-dunk, but I do think its pluses outweigh its minuses, especially the creative action scenes and the engaging artwork. Just don't expect to root for Arthur quite as much as you usually might.