Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Colourist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Previously, in Swamp Thing: Alec Holland and Buddy Baker, the Swamp Thing and the Animal Man, have finally teamed up in order to combat the forces of the Rot. Using a portal into the Rot, the pair headed down into the depths of their nemeses stronghold for a final decisive battle with Arcane. Unfortunately, Arcane tricked them—spending time inside the Rot’s dimension, where time passes quicker than on Earth, allowing the Rot to take over the planet without the interference of the Red and the Green.
Now, Buddy and Alec are separated and find themselves lost in a world that has succumbed to the Rot. Old friends and new enemies await as they explore this strange new world and try to find a way to reverse what has been done to their home; a way to undo the damage that has occurred and reduced Earth to a place of death and decay. Welcome to Rotworld.
It’s been a year in the making, but the heavily hyped Rotworld storyline has finally struck both Animal Man and Swamp Thing’s titles, with their respective storylines beginning this week. Buddy and Alec are trapped in a world where the Rot has won, and nothing is ever going to be the same again. It sounds a bit cliché, but given the excellent background work that both Scott Snyder, on this title, and Jeff Lemire, on Animal Man, have done in order to prepare for this, with a year of stories behind them, the cliché is easily going to be justified.
Bouncing between Alec’s discovery of the Green’s struggle against the Rot and Abby Arcane’s fate after Swamp Thing vanished into the Rot a year previously, this issue has a lot of story packed in nicely. There are some powerful visuals and an epic assembling of armies, giving this issue the event feel that it deserves, given the gravity of the plot that is coming to a head here. The addition of Poison Ivy and Deadman to the cast for this storyline helps things out by giving us some characters that can exposit what has gone on in Alec’s (and our) absence. Their unique viewpoints (and ways of dealing with problems) gives us some more story potential as well as some back-up for Alec when things get worse later in the issue.
The one problem—I hesitate to call it that, but it’s the only word I have at the moment—with this book is that this and Animal Man #13 read as two sides of the same coin. Granted, their storylines literally are two sides of the same coin, but you can swap out the characters and settings between each book and the issues will be exactly the same. Of course, if you’re only reading one of these series you won’t have this problem, but let’s be honest, who isn’t reading both Animal Man and Swamp Thing together at this point? There’s nothing wrong with these issues, but when you put them side by side, they’re cookie-cutters of the same mould, which makes reading them both soon after each other a little samey.
Having Yanick Paquette back on in time for Rotworld is perfect; his artwork, when let loose in full-swing as it is in this issue, is absolutely fantastic. There were times in this issue that made me stop and wonder just how disgusting the visuals were going to get. The villains of the Rotworld are depicted in more and more grotesque styles, and Paquette’s panel arrangement choices are almost on the same level as Francis Manapul’s over on The Flash, which I’m also always gushing over.
As a first issue, Swamp Thing’s Rotworld storyline is off to a good start, with some interesting (if symmetrical) plot points set up for the next few issues that should make things even more so later on. Both Alec and Abby’s storylines begin well, and their respective cliffhangers have me already wonder what’s going to happen next, and the return of Yanick Paquette to the title can only be a good thing. It’s been a year in the making, but Rotworld is already living up to the hype.
GO Rating: 4/5