Swamp-Thing-16-000Since the DC 52 devolution the titles Swamp Thing and Animal Man have been inseparable. Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder have assembled a new world with refashioned heroes, with apt reference to their previous incarnations. Snyder is DC’s hottest property at the moment, and it is tough to remember he writes this title too, especially given how good it is. The first arcs of both books were a set up to the characters for the Rotworld dimension, launching parallel stories of both characters attempting to stop the rot. The odd turn these books took was to take the protagonists to a future where the bad guys won. After we spend a number of issues developing Buddy’s family and Holland’s romance, we are propelled to time where they have already lost to Anton Arcane and the world is literally decaying. Buddy and Alec go their separate ways to create a rebellion force capable of taking back the Earth. It’s an interesting turn because we spend so long in the prologue and then we enter the epilogue, looking for redemption and resolution to the Rotworld. I have been unsatisfied that we have yet to see the crux of this book, but as the issue have progressed we are finally seeing character realisation and plot movement.

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Yanick Paquette has an uncanny knack for the gross and desolate environment of the Rotworld, and also the blood and guts of the dead. The world he has shaped is phenomenal and disgusting. The heavy thick pencils, dark shading and colours create an atmosphere devoid of hope with the murkiness emanating through the erratic, dark, and natural panel borders. As I read this book I feel myself trudging through the sodden mud, as the art is so palatable and visceral. Our destination is Anton’s European fortress, full of evil monstrosities and hope lies with the lush grey and white beauty that is Abigail. She brings contrast to the toothy, patchworked and disfigured Arcane who looks genuinely unstoppable. Meanwhile a weakened Swamp Thing finally reaches the batcave to find Barbara a helpful ally, who takes him to the deep secrets of the bat, lying wait in Arkham asylum. The strength and resolve of Swamp Thing is refuelled by the thoughts of his, long lost, thought dead love, Abigail, but also of the newfound power discovered by Bruce. Alec’s internal lovelorn monologue is well written by Snyder, as the issue progresses through despair to hope. Paquette depicts his resurgence by contrasting a devilish, heavily fanged Superman with Swampy’s beautiful angelic wings. The narrative is complete, well almost……

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The rejuvenation of Swamp Thing is the theme of the book. He has a deep profound love for Abigail Arcane who is intimately related to the creature who has succeeded in Earth’s destruction. It is her rotting throne to take, but she rejects it. She fights defiantly against her legacy whilst Alec uses her as a source of inspiration for his. The world around him matters not to Holland, because he is not strong enough to fight without her next to him. It is for her, he reluctantly accepts the power that can make him a saviour. It is a powerful narrative, as we hear his thoughts and watch his ascension to greatness. Swamp Thing takes his place as the leader of the army to take back the rot, to breathe life anew to the world. He will find Abby and take her back. Hope crescendos to the penultimate page of the book and as we turn the page, it suddenly disappears. There is nothing left but futility and sadness. Yanick rips out our hearts and leaves them whimpering, as we shed a tear for poor old Alec, with an image so horrific that we turn our heads away, wishing we had never turned the page at all.

“If you can hear me, please. I’m right outside, just hold on a little longer” 9/10

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