Writers: Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire
Artist: Marco Rudy
Colourist: Val Staples
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Note: This issue continues directly from Animal Man #12
Previously, in Swamp Thing: Thinking the forces of the Rot vanquished, Abby and Alec returned to a safe place so that they could rest and recuperate from their battles. Alec’s swampy body was badly damaged, and he had to retire to the Green to restore his strength. Unfortunately, this was the time when Abby’s deceased uncle Anton Arcane decided to attack. After being narrowly saved by the Parliament of Trees, Alec returned in force to attack Anton, who had cornered Abby with his army of rotted Un-Men.
Anton’s new Rot powers were formidable, but between Alec’s control over plantlife and a well placed shotgun shell to the face from Abby, they managed to drive him away through a portal into the Rot. As they turned to retreat, fearing what the portal may hold for them, the arrival of Buddy Baker, the Animal Man, and his family forced them to stop. Buddy said that it was time for them to work together – and go into the Rot portal after Arcane.
It’s been teased since the beginning of the New 52, and with this issue, Rotworld is finally here. Having met up with the Animal Man last issue, it’s now time for the duo to take the fight to the Rot itself, as they dive head first into a portal into the Rot. This issue picks up right from the end of Animal Man #12, also out this week, and it’s great that the pair are both released together, since the action flows seamlessly from one book to the next.
Snyder and Lemire are friends in real life, and this carries across into their writing – it is impossible to distinguish between when one is writing and the other is not, and yet this issue still feels like it’s part of the Swamp Thing series, despite sharing the spotlight with Buddy Baker and his family. The appearance of Arcane and the focus on Abby in the earlier sections of the book help ensure that this issue feels different in tone to the Animal Man issue released this week, even if they are two halves of the same story.
I’d been wondering how Lemire and Snyder were going to implement Rotworld, and for once the advance solicitation text didn’t spoil the twist that occurs near the end of this issue. Both writers up the stakes considerably, and totally turn these two series on their head as they continue into the storyline, making them even more unpredictable than usual. Having Buddy and Swampy together at last gives them sounding boards for their similar powers, and leads to some easy banter as if the pair have been working together for ages rather than having just met, and the same extends to Buddy’s family, and Abby too. Each of them has time to show us who they are, what role they’re going to play in the story, and what makes them tick, which is both useful for readers who have only been reading one of these two titles (and I have no idea why), as well as reaffirming them for long-term readers.
Marco Rudy’s artwork seems to have suffered this issue, which may be due to the multiple inkers that help him out, but I can’t be certain. The lack of backgrounds in the scenes set within the Rot seems to be intentional, but gives each panel a washed out feeling, which takes away from the suspense that most of the situations have, whereas when Rudy lets loose with crazy panel designs or monstrous creatures, we’re back to business as usual. Inconsistent, but there’s a gem underneath here – Rudy has shown on previous issues that he can do better than this, so I’m definitely inclined to look at the inking team here, and whoever decided to omit backgrounds.
Rotworld begins, and things already look bleak story-wise. Quality-wise, things have never looked better. Snyder and Lemire have been teasing and setting up this story for 12 issues, and now here we are as it takes off. Hold on to your hats, and the contents of your stomach, because if this issue is anything to set the bar by, Rotworld is going to be great.
GO Rating: 3/5