The rumors have been swirling for some time now — but we can exclusively confirm that Charles Soule is taking over as writer of DC's Swamp Thing with issue 19, replacing Scott Snyder after the end of the "Rotworld" storyline.
Soule has won massive praise for his work on creator-owned projects like 27 and Strange Attractors, so we're excited to see what he does with Swamp Thing. Check out an exclusive first look at the cover to issue #19 by Andy Brase, featuring the Scarecrow and Swamp Thing, plus our exclusive interview with Soule:
People praised your creator-owned comic 27 for its innovative take on fantasy tropes such as deals with Gods and mythical figures. Do you think you can bring a similar fresh take to the Green and the other Swamp Thing tropes?
Hope so! I've always loved the idea of mythologies linked to or underlying everyday life, like the kami gods of Shintoism, where every rock, tree and stream has its own little god associated with it. I tried to establish some of that with 27, by creating deities of creativity, decay and fame. That's nothing new - writers have been doing this stuff for millennia, just like every other idea under the sun.
Something very cool about Swamp Thing that I think makes the book distinct from some other superhero titles is that it has a very thoroughly developed mythology that spans back to prehistoric times. Avatars of the Green have existed as long as there has been plant life on Earth. Plus, Swampy's powers are essentially infinite but also tightly defined - he can't do anything that plants can't do, and while plants can do plenty, there are also some strong limitations. I also like that Swamp Thing's goal as an avatar of the Green isn't necessarily to defeat or destroy - his job is to seek balance, which is cool. As a writer, all of that gives me a HUGE narrative toolbox to work with, which is inspiring. You can tell stories about some of the deepest philosophical questions mankind has ever considered, while still featuring a giant green leafy dude punching bad guys. It's a blast!
Rotworld already featured Batman and Superman in prominent roles. Is Swampy maxed out on DC Universe cameos for the time being, or is there a lot more of that coming?
Part of the fun in working in a big shared universe like the DCU is, well, sharing the universe. So, I can say for certain that Swamp Thing is going to have some fun encounters with other heroes and villains, although it will always be his book and his story. After all, it's his name on the cover. Issues 19 and 20 are designed to bring Alec a little deeper into the DCU and show where he stands, more or less, but I've got a whole list of things I want to do with him that don't involve the larger universe as directly.
In particular, one of the goals I've set for myself on the book is to expand Swamp Thing's supporting cast a bit. After all, just because he lives way out in the swamp doesn't mean he can't have any pals besides Abby. For instance, I have a thousand-year old assassin character I plan to introduce pretty early. She'll have a really cool dynamic with Swamp Thing, in part because she doesn't realize that the various other avatars of the Green she's encountered in her ten centuries weren't all the same guy. They may have made certain promises to her that Alec is expected to honor - whether he wants to or not.
To sum up - familiar faces will pop into the swamp from time to time, but plenty of new surprises as well.
Does your storyline pick up right after Rotworld, and can you tell us anything about how the new status quo will be established in your comic?
I have had the privilege of reading the scripts for the last several issues of the big Rotwold arc, and I can tell you that Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette are going to leave Swamp Thing in a very cool place. No spoilers, of course, but Alec goes through the wringer at the end of Rotworld, and we see some significant changes that will absolutely carry over into my run. It'll be awesome.
My first issue, #19, picks up just a little while after the end of Rotworld, with Alec still reeling from the events of #18. As Rotworld takes place largely in an alternate future, and the pace of 1-18 was pretty much (awesomely) go go go, it means our hero hasn't had much chance to actually be in the "real world" as Swamp Thing, or to reflect on everything that's happened to him and what it means to have assumed the mantle of the Avatar of the Green. Lots to process. So, we'll deal with that, as well as a larger mystery about strange things that have been happening in the Green - mysterious forms of plant life appearing all over the world that simply should not be. The "oddness in the Green" question is a throughline I plan to run with for a little while in the background of the main issue by issue stories.
In addition to the goal of adding new supporting cast members that I mentioned above, I also want to (at least for the moment), focus on really tight stories of 1-3 issues, with each having its own distinct feel and central idea. I want readers to be able to cite each story down the road by that big idea or image - "you remember the one where Swamp Thing did THIS???" Stuff like that. Should be really fun.
What's the biggest mistake you think creators sometimes make in writing Swamp Thing?
Here's a list of some of the folks who have written Swamp Thing over the years: Alan Moore, Len Wein, Scott Snyder, Brian K Vaughan, Joshua Dysart, Rick Veitch, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar. That's not even a full list, but you see my point - ol' Swampy has had some seriously brilliant people behind the keyboard in his time. In my opinion, this book has seen some of the most innovative, fascinating stories ever to grace the medium. Every time I fire up the laptop to work on a script, I'm thinking about how I can do my level best to live up to the incredible legacy all those guys have left for me. Big shoes to fill on Swamp Thing - BIG SHOES.
That said, I think the one thing Swamp Thing has been consistent with during its entire run is that it's a book about ideas. It's a place where writers and artists can try almost anything - and they often do. A Swamp Thing story can creep you out, it can make you cry, it can make you want to do a total dudebro chest bump at its sheer badassery... and often all in the same issue. That's what Swamp Thing has always been, and I have no intention of changing that paradigm - I'm going to bring the best ideas I've got and let them grow. Like little seedlings. Because it's Swamp Thing!