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Interview: Charles Soule on SWAMP THING, Past Avatars of the Green and Villains

Find out what's coming up in the series, annual and Villains Month issue.

Charles Soule is doing some cool things in SWAMP THING. We've already seen Alec Holland interact with other characters in the New 52 and is currently dealing with the Whisky Tree problem (it really is a problem and you should check out issues 22 and 23 to see why). A new character/villain named Seeder has been stirring things up and we're about to find out more about him.

We had a chance to talk to Charles at San Diego Comic-Con (you can watch the interview HERE) but also caught up with him to specifically talk about the future of SWAMP THING.


Comic Vine: Are you molding Seeder to be one of Swamp Thing's big rogues?

Charles Soule: That's the idea. After Scott Snyder did such a great job with Anton Arcane, it seemed to make sense to let him rest for a little while (but for an appearance in the September Villains Month issue, but we'll get to that in a bit). Seeder is interesting to me because his powers are analogous to Swamp Thing's, but he's using them in an entirely different way. He's not even evil, necessarily - he's just irresponsible in a way that Alec Holland is not.

We'll learn quite a bit more about Seeder in issue 24, which is out in October, and then his story will play out in a big way through the next few issues after that.

CV: Will the SWAMP THING ANNUAL #2 in October tie in directly to the series or will it have a self-contained story?

CS: It absolutely ties in. I would say it's the Part 2 to the Seeder story that begins in issue 24. It's a story about the Green and the Parliament of Trees (respectively, the uber-consciousness of all plant life on Earth and the "alumni group" of prior Swamp Things throughout the planet's history who now act as advisors to "our" Swampy - Alec Holland, the current Avatar of the Green). I wanted to delve into the way something like that would actually work. Alec Holland goes on a quest to learn how to better use his powers, and the best source of information on that question is the Parliament. However, not every prior Avatar is on the Parliament, and so Alec has to head deep into the Green to find some of its less savory previous champions.

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CV: What can you tell us about the Burgher Thing?

CS: Burgher Thing is a prior avatar who takes it upon himself to help Alec Holland "level up" during the story we see in the Annual. His time as an avatar took place during the 1600s. He was a successful merchant and scientist, and he operated out of Europe. Since his "retirement" to the Green, he's become very active in the Parliament - he's almost a politician, of sorts. He's very smart, very canny - and very conniving. He's on Alec's side, but he's also very much on his own.

CV: Why did you choose this name?

CS: Just to clarify - in my scripts, I often use placeholder names for characters that may or may not need or get an actual name. For instance, the Franciscan monk Swamp Thing we saw in issue 21 was called, somewhat predictably, Monk Thing. "Burgher Thing" isn't this guy's real name. He has another name that gets used in the issue. However, he was also (when he was alive) a member of the German social class known as the burghers, and it made me laugh to call him Burgher Thing in the script. The guys in the office liked it too, and it just sort of stuck. You'll probably never see "Burgher Thing" actually used in a Swamp Thing issue, but if you want to think of him that way, works for me!

CV: Burgher Thing will be appearing in later issues as well?

CS: Yes! I have some very cool things planned for this fellow. His role, as well as that of some of the other new characters you'll see introduced soon, will change and expand in the months to come. Capucine in particular has some neat stuff coming up (she's the mysterious 1000-year old assassin who appeared in the swamp begging for Alec Holland to give her sanctuary.)

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CV: We'll also be introduced to Lady Weeds in the Annual. What's her story?

CS: Lady Weeds is one of the previous Avatars Alec Holland meets with to get some instruction on using his abilities. She's awesome - her name refers to the "widow's weeds"-type outfit she wears, which were Victorian-era mourning clothes. When I was working on this issue, I asked myself this question: "What would a Swamp Thing be like who totally bought into the idea of the Green, to such an extent that she cared more about plants than people?" Lady Weeds is the answer. She's scary, but Alec has some things to learn from her.

CV: Do you plan on revealing other past avatars? I imagine it must be a blast to create them?

CS: Absolutely. At last count, eleven avatars show up in the Annual. Some have more prominent roles than others, but they're always fun to think up. The best part, though, is to see how the amazing artists on the series design them. Burgher Thing and Lady Weeds are just the tip of the iceberg.


CV: Will the Villains Month issue, SWAMP THING #23.1, show us Anton Arcane's current state or will it be a flashback sort of story?

CS: It's both! We'll definitely get to see what's happening with him today, but we'll learn more about his history as well. Without giving too much away, Anton's daughter Abby - who is the current Avatar of the Rot (a champion of decay in much the same way Alec is a champion of plants) - goes to see Anton to ask him an important question about her own past. Anton's answer, and what it means for both him and Abby going forward, makes up the bulk of the story.

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CV: We're also going to be seeing Abby again since she had to take on her role with the Rot. Do you plan on bringing her into the main series as well?

CS: I like Abby a lot, but I also think that Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette (and the rest of their team) did such a great job putting a bow on Abby's story for the time being that it makes sense to let her rest for a bit. She'll show up again one of these days, but for the moment the Arcane Villains Month issue in September is the main place you'll see her - at least as far as I have planned!

SWAMP THING #23 is on sale August 7. SWAMP THING ANNUAL #2 is on sale October 30.