Writer: Scott Snyder
Colourist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Previously, in Swamp Thing: A long time ago, Alec Holland was the Swamp Thing, avatar of the Green and protector of nature. Or so he thought. Then, things changed, and the Swamp Thing disappeared. Alec’s human body was resurrected, but when the forces of the Rot attacked him, he was forced to resume the mantle of the Swamp Thing in order to do battle with them.
But Alec isn’t the first Swamp Thing, and the forces of the Rot he has fought aren’t the first that have risen to menace the Green. Anton Arcane, a menace from Alec’s past, has been an avatar of the Rot for a long, long time, and has fought and killed many a Swamp Thing. What makes Alec think he’ll fare any better than they did?
Like Green Lantern #0 this week, Swamp Thing #0 takes a bit of an unorthodox approach to the origins of Alec Holland, instead choosing to focus more on Anton Arcane, the villain of Rotworld and of the Swamp Thing series as a whole so far. With the earlier adventures of Swamp Thing pre-Flashpoint having been revealed as a failed attempt by the Parliament of Trees to resurrect Alec, there’s not much to add to Alec’s already established origin. Or so you’d think. Snyder instead points the spotlight on Arcane, and we get another creepy, disturbing issue as a result.
Not only do we truly get to see the depths of the depravity of Arcane, such as killing babies and stealing people’s ribs as trophies, but we also see how entwined Arcane and the Rot are in the lives of the avatars of the Red and Green. After some flashback scenes involving the Swamp Thing from the recent Animal Man Annual meeting his sticky end, we’re then taken down memory lane as we see Alec as a human developing the bio-restorative formula that would eventually bring him back as the Swamp Thing. But in the shadows lurks Arcane, and his links to Alec’s origin are both believable and apt – the downfall of villains is almost always linked to their over-confidence, and I’m sure once Rotworld tumbles down around his ears, Arcane will be cursing the day he got involved in Holland’s life.
Snyder also focuses on Alec’s life before all of the Swamp Thing nonsense entered it, which is something we haven’t seen even in the first seven issues of the title in which Alec was human. It shows the presence that the Green has had in his life ever since he was young, as if it’s always been inevitable that he would become what he is to become. It’s also nice of Snyder to remember that Alec did have a wife, Linda, before he died. Abby Arcane may be the love of his life, but Linda’s part in the story, whilst small, is integral, making her a part of the Rot’s plan to stop the Green from creating their newest avatar.
It seems that whichever artist DC find for Swamp Thing, they all bring their best work to the table. Kano easily blends his normal style to the way in which the series has been presented so far, with interesting (and disgusting) panel borders that change as the story focus shifts, and some truly dire drawings of Arcane that will put you off your dinner. Colourist Matt Wilson keeps the palette of the book fairly mild, which makes some of the more outrageous scenes look even scarier by grounding them in reality, such as the aforementioned baby eating scene.
Another month, another issue of Swamp Thing that leaves me begging for more. While this issue is an interlude to the overall Rotworld storyline, it’s a good place for new readers to try out the title, though it will probably be more of an introduction to the series at issue #1 rather than allowing them to jump on with issue #13 next month. This is a gory, gross book which is exactly what an issue based around Anton Arcane should be, and as a result, it doesn’t disappoint.
GO Rating: 3.5/5