When Swamp Thing stands before a kingdom of rotting death, staring right into the face of a Rot-possessed Superman, you know things are going to get interesting. Swamp Thing #16, the continuation of the Swamp Thing’s struggle against The Rot, is by far the most exciting issue of the series. The war against The Rot has taken a long time to gain momentum, but as these final issues roll in, the wait is well worth it.
The world is decaying, dying and generally falling into ruin. Sitting in the ruin of the Batcave, Swamp Thing is learning of the Dark Knight’s final attempt to save the world. When the fall came, Batman had already begun to turn into a creature of The Rot, but he and the few heroes left managed to secure Arkham Asylum as a haven against the coming terror. Within those halls, Batman created not just a chemical compound to fight the Rot, but a giant Bat Robot to help wage war. The chemical also brings Swamp Thing greater power than he had before to lead the attack.
Scott Snyder lets it all fly in this issue. He won’t be on Swamp Thing much longer and he’s looking to leave his mark on the eternal DC icon. Outside of the dense plot involving our hero, there is a subplot where Anton Arcane abuses and, quite horrifically, kills his niece Abby. Seeing Abby begging to take the mantle of The Rot to save the world from the evil of her uncle goes a long way to showing just how evil Anton Arcane is. By the end of Swamp Thing #16, you’re breathless. It’s going to be a long wait for the finale of this epic tale.
As good as all this is, there is a backlash to it. Where does Swamp Thing go from here? It’s been years since writer Alan Moore took Swamp Thing to new heights of creativity and, as good as the interim writers could be, nobody raised Swamp Thing’s profile until Snyder. Within sixteen issues, Snyder (with Jeff Lemire over at Animal Man) has constructed an epic journey. Between that and Snyder leaving Swamp Thing on issue #18, those are some big shoes to fill. I hope it doesn’t get lost in the post-Rot shuffle.
Once again, Yanick Paquette delivers on the art with both barrels. The opening page alone shows how creative Paquette can be with just panel arrangements. His interpretation of a Rot possessed Superman is pretty amazing. Outside of the opening, Paquette has a natural poetry with his pencils. His characters have a natural flow, but never without weight. Swamp Thing looks and feels powerful, yet he’s constructed by the most delicate pencil lines and inks. I also love Paquette’s ability to cram so much into every panel. If the Devil is in the details, Yanick Paquette is dancing with Satan.
Swamp Thing is creepy, wonderful, and one of the best series in DC right now.
(4.5 Story, 4 Art)