Swamp Thing goes to Gotham! For those who can’t get enough Batman by Scott Snyder in a given month, here’s an extra dose. (Between Rotworld and Death of the Family, Snyder really must have it out for the Dark Knight.)
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Marco Rudy
– “ROTWORLD: THE GREEN KINGDOM” part three!
– Batman’s fate in the Rotworld is revealed!
– Guest-starring the inmates of Arkham Asylum who have been dramatically affected by battling the Green, the Red and the Rot!
Swamp Thing’s adventures in the Rot continue with more of what you’ve come to expect from Snyder’s work on the title; namely, great art and some of the most disturbing images in mainstream comics. As the third part of the ‘Rotworld-The Green Kingdom’ arc, don’t expect to jump in and pick up everything right away. This story has literally been building since issue #1, making it an daunting book for new readers. Even so, it remains a simple story; Swamp Thing fights zombie versions of the DCU and tries to rescue his one true love from his arch nemesis. That blend of horror and super-heroics makes this an extremely appealing book.Continued below
Picking up from last issue, we drop into a major confrontation between Swamp Thing and William Arcane, the antagonist of the first arc and nephew of Anton Arcane. Snyder breaks up the battle between Swampy and William with Abby’s story one year ago. The two stories don’t parallel each other in any significant way, resulting in an issue that doesn’t read quite as fluidly as the last. While the Swamp Thing battle is certainly action packed and entertaining, Abby’s section does the heavy lifting story-wise. Events from earlier in the series reach their payoff, bringing Arcane to a terrifying new low. The ambiguity of Abby’s fate in this nightmare world acts as a major driving force for this arc. As Swamp Thing continues to hope that he’ll find his love, you find yourself hoping as well, even as you see the odds stacking against her.
This issue is just as creepy as anything we’ve seen so far in Snyder’s “Swamp Thing” thanks to the incredible work of Marco Rudy. Yannick Paquette deserves major credit for providing a clear visual theme for this series (which has in turn influenced the art layouts in Animal Man as well). However, his art since ‘Rotworld’ started has seemed flat compared to his lush and vibrant work at the start of the series. Rudy, who has filled in for Paquette several times, gives some of his best art to date in this issue. Rudy renders the Swamp Thing/William Arcane fight with sketchy and gritty line work, perfect for a struggle between monsters. His depiction of Deadman as a skeletal ghoul is especially striking, and more interesting than the character’s usual portrayal in the New 52. Rudy also gets creative with panel boundaries, resulting in pages with the visual aesthetic of a full page spread and the story content of a traditional paneled page. The scenes with Abby are the ones that truly shine. In a sequence where Abby confronts an army of rot infested monsters, one panel depicting a close up of Abby’s terrified expression, half cloaked in shadow, calls back to Steve Bissette’s groundbreaking work on the title over twenty years ago. While Snyder has clearly given this book its own style and direction separate from Alan Moore’s stories, visual cues and motifs that call back to that run are always welcome. As good as Paquette’s work is, Marco Rudy can stick around as long as he wants.
Seeing DC characters and concepts repurposed in this post-apocalyptic world remains one of the best parts of the ‘Rotworld’ story-arc. Here, William Arcane wields Aquaman’s trident and commands a rotted Starro, marking the classic villain’s second New 52 appearance (to the knowledge of this reviewer). Later in the issue, we see Swamp Thing finally make it Gotham. The Caped Crusader’s fate will not be spoiled here, but a very awesome/surprising appearance from another Bat-family character teases some interesting story possibilities. A cool as these nuggets of the DC universe are when viewed through a rotting, horrific lens, they are undercut by the fact that this world cannot last. Obviously this apocalyptic, one year later DC Universe will revert back to normal as it directly contradicts the status quo of every other book DC publishes. Unlike similar world altering stories, such as Marvel’s “House of M” or “Age of Apocalypse,” it’s hard to see ‘Rotworld’ having a lasting impact on the series moving forward. That said, Snyder has one issue left before “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man” come together to close the door on the rot storyline once and for all, so there’s still time for him to prestige us.
Even with the handicap of being an alternate reality story, “Swamp Thing” endures as one of the best series in the New 52 and a true success story for the DC underdog turned Vertigo mainstay and back again. With that said, the rot storyline has grown somewhat stale, having been building since the start of the New 52 a year and a half ago. New readers would do well to wait until ‘Rotworld’ wraps up in issue #17 before jumping on the series, but if you’ve been reading this book from the beginning, take heart. We’re nearing the finish line of this disgusting, heart wrenching marathon.
Final Verdict 8.2 – Still a great read, made stronger if you’re a series regular.