One year after the events of Animal Man and Swamp Thing issues #12, the two characters have come out of Rotworld and back to the human world to see that they weren’t gone for mere hours, and their absence has allowed Earth to be overtaken by the powers of the Rot. The world is a different place, and now it’s up to Animal Man (and Swamp Thing) to fix it.
I have to admit that when I started this issue, I had a similar feeling to when I was reading Flashpoint. A hero suddenly realizes that the world around him has changed, and it’s not an alternate universe or timeline, it’s his own world, changed because of something he’d done. That said, it starts to raise the question of what effect this might have on the rest of the DC Universe?
Now, I seriously doubt that by the time this crossover finishes (in February) that the DCU will be reset again, or that we’ll definitely see the Rot destroy all living flesh in the world, but it does raise the stakes by not having idea what kind of plot they’re going to cook up to pull things back to normal. That right there is what makes this story intriguing; I have no clue what’s going to happen, whatsoever.
Two sides of the story are told in this issue. One side is Buddy’s story with him gripping with the fact that he’s been gone for a year and his absence has caused the Rot to take over the world. The other side is the Baker family’s inevitable demise and the origins of Rotworld after Buddy left. Giving both sides of this story gives a bit of a tragic feel to it all. You know the Baker family isn’t going to make it out of here, and you know just how much knowing that affects Buddy. Knowing that his daughter was helpless to protect his wife and the rest of the family from the attack; knowing it was his fault this happened; knowing there’s nothing he can do. Lemire is not shy to tell tragic stories in his comics, and this definitely falls into that category. Plus, it’s just as gruesome as any issue of this series has been, if not more so.
On the art, regular artist Steve Pugh is joined by Timothy Green II (who handled the annual a few months back) to illustrate the scenes from one year ago. Green does get to prove that he’s a good choice for illustrating this title, but it’s really Pugh who gets to stand out here as he illustrates the Rot-infested world and heroes, as well as the incredible “Red Kingdom” and it’s inhabitants.
This issue gives a nice start to the Red side of this event, and really succeeded in the fact that I have no clue what’s going to happen. I’m happy in the decision to have the story here separate from the one happening in Swamp Thing as it allows for a broader look at this world and more area for the characters to stretch to deliver an interesting story. With this first part out of the way, I can say that “Rotworld” looks like it’s going to be quite a good comic, and it shouldn’t be missed out on.
GO Rating: 4/5