Caliburn24 here to bid farewell to Scott Snyder’s run on the Swamp Thing.
Snyder, whose wrap up on Death of the Family was in the last review, has brought fan attention to the New52 with Swamp Thing. The character is well known as the creation of Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, two comics masters. It was really Alan Moore along with John Totleben and Stephen Bissette that took the character into an entirely new direction. Moore expanded the scope of comics into surreal territory beyond the supernatural trappings of the title. He introduced the Green, which had the Parliament of Trees appointing Swamp Thing defending all plant life. Also, add to that the introduction of John Constantine in Swamp Thing #37 (1985) which basically set up most of Dark titles in the New52. The stamp of Moore is indeniable and a trap for some really fine writers. It is to Snyder’s credit that he has brought the Alec Holland of Wein and Wrightston, the Green of Moore, and added his own ideas to reboot the character in the New52. Snyder is also clever in slipping in the names of the creators in Wrightson Diner, Abby’s motorcycle is from Bissette Motors, and she wears jeans with a Yeates label.
Alec Holland was revived in the Brightest Day storyline. Snyder’s re-boot has Holland coming to terms with his life as Swamp Thing. He tries to reject becoming Swamp Thing and runs into Abigail Arcane, the daughter of his greatest enemy, Anton Arcane. She reveals that like Holland’s ability to speak with the Green, she can speak with its opposite, the Rot. This is a new concept that also connects to the Animal Man title since Jeff Lemire has Buddy Baker being able to tap into the Red, the counterpart to the Green that is connected to animal life. Holland falls for Abby (again) and becomes the Swamp Thing. His new powers have expanded, he grows a crown of what looks like stag horn (really branches) and can fly using moss covered wings. The Parliament of Trees is destroyed, but Swamp Thing is able to replant them in his Louisiana swamp home. Anton Arcane is revived as a lord of the Rot. Baker and his family appear in the swamp to take on the Rot.
The Rotworld storyline was spread between the Animal Man and Swamp Thing titles. Baker and Holland enter the portal into the Rot left behind by Arcane. They attempt to take the battle there, but Arcane tells them that the Rot has already won and that a year has passed. They drop out of the portal in separate parts of the Rotworld. Baker finds himself in his hometown of San Diego transformed by the Rotworld. The last heroes are Steel, Black Orchid, Beast Boy, and later Frankenstein. They lead the resistance against the Rot with Shepherd, a mentor to those who defend the Red. Baker’s family in the present world are corrupted by the Rot. Swamp Thing allies himself with Poison Ivy and Deadman in Rotworld Louisiana. Abby is returning to the castle in the Carpathian Mountains and her plane is infected by the Rot. The castle is where Abby first met Alec and where he is saved by Swamp Thing from Arcane.
Swamp Thing travels to Gotham City to find a weapon to defeat Arcane. Deadman possesses the body of William Arcane, the young son who rules the seas of the Rot. Swamp Thing reaches the Batcave and is attacked by a Man Bat creature that is killed by Barbara Gordon. Abby is captured by Arcane and battles with him for control of the Parliament of Decay. Before he gave into the Rot, Batman has created a Bat Bot filled with bio-restorative formula and the final attack of the Rot. Baker and Holland open up two fronts against it, but Arcane unleashes his last Rot creations, Abby, and Baker’s daughter, Maxine. They defeat Arcane’s mockeries and together are able to launch the Bat-Bot into the atmosphere to fill the skies with the formula and destroy Rotworld.
Which brings us to Swamp Thing #18. It features the return of series artist, Yanick Paquette who turns in a cover of Abby and Swamp Thing embracing each other surrounded by pink gardenias. Pacquette’s art has broken panel boundaries that now shift in vertical lines in the first page and in all directions in other issues. The ghostly faces of the Parliament of Decay is seen as the form of Swamp Thing floats in the darkness. Arcane is about to kill Abby when they look up to see a light. In a splash page, Swamp Thing throws his extended wooden talons into Arcane’s head as he appears.
Swamp Thing tears apart Arcane and the Rotlings shriek as they fall. Pacquette uses a single page to break up panels of Abby and Swamp Thing’s reunion broken by flower petals. Abby leads Swamp Thing away to a chamber and tells him that Arcane will reform. She says to stop Arcane permanently, Swamp Thing will have to kill her. Arcane reforms, gobbles up a Rotling, and heads to the chamber door. A splash of panels across two pages has Swamp Thing’s fear of losing Abby if she becomes the Avatar of Death. The Parliament of Decay tells him that her death is the only way. Swamp Thing holds Abby and her final words, “Take me back to the sw-“ Another two page splash which has Swamp Thing holding the bloody body of Abby pierced by branches.
Arcane smashes through the door and strikes Swamp Thing down with his rot claws. Swamp Thing transforms back to Alec Holland and dies. A splash page has Abby appearing as the Avatar of Death, with black armor and wings, confronting Arcane with the Parliament of Decay behind her. She blasts Arcane and he can’t reform the hole in his torso. The Parliament sweeps him away as the Avatar of Death holds the body of Alec. At the Grove, Swamp Thing is reformed. The Avatar of Death sees Swamp Thing and shows him the bodies of Abby and Alec. Flowers cover them. The Avatar and Swamp Thing kiss, covered in fire, until their hands are lost. Swamp Thing agrees to be the Avatar for the Parliament of Trees as a crane takes off to the sky. An incredible end to one of the best runs in the New52.
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