Swamp Thing #16

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Swamp Thing meets the inmates of Arkham in issue 16

Swamp Thing #16 is part four of the “Green Kingdom” segment of Rot World, a brainchild of Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire and a few other key players at DC, and it tells the story of the Apocalyptic Gotham City, and of its few survivors. Swamp Thing is one of the few consistently amazing comic titles that has been able to stay fresh, interesting and grotesque after 17 months of publication. Plus this issue featured Yanick Paquette as the artist for the full issue, which is something we haven’t seen in a while, and as he is one of my favorite comic artists, it was a welcome change to see his uniquely disturbing art fill the pages of the entire issue.

Rot World basically tells the story of how Swamp Thing and Animal Man failed humanity by falling for one of Anton Arcane’s traps and allowing the Rot to consume the world, all but for small forces still representing the Green and the Red. In the past several months we’ve seen Animal Man and Swamp Thing both emerge into a desolate wasteland, rally the troops who still remain in their corners and head to different parts of the country to try to stifle the Rot’s hold on humanity. Animal Man went to Metropolis to try to rescue Green Lantern and Swamp Thing went to Gotham. At the end of #15, we saw a man bat rescue Swamp Thing from a Rot infested Batman, and it was revealed that the man bat was none other than the ex-paraplegic, Barbara Gordon.

Gordon explains to Holland that when the city went insane, the only safe place to take refuge was the former prison to hold the mad citizens of Gotham: Arkham Asylum. Grant Morrison has already explored this possible future in Batman Inc. #5, but it was under slightly different circumstances. Now, a few Gotham Supervillains have banded together to create a shield of Green energy which repels the Rot, but when Arcane’s agents become aware of Swampy’s presence, they get the 10 story tall, rot infected Giganta to help break the force field and try to destroy what’s left of the breathing Gothamites. Meanwhile, Swamp Thing is calmly tinkering with a reservoir of bio-restorative formula left behind by Batman while Gordon is losing it. Gordon has all but lost faith in Holland’s plan, when it is finally revealed that what Batman had really left behind was a piece of robotic weaponry built to distribute bio-restorative formula, and help destroy the rot.

The end of the issue was particularly amazing: we saw all of the surviving residents of Gotham wearing cowls and sporting Robin R’s on their chests, while shelling out rounds of Green death into the rotlings. Then Swamp Thing assumed his “Warrior King” beast mode and unsheathed his sword and prepared to quickly and efficiently kick ass. The only problem with the conclusion of this issue lay in the discovery of Abby’s true fate: Arcane had destroyed her, removing her head and showing the product of her defeat to his army. Bummer.

It was awesome to finally see the some action in a story arc that has mostly been comprised of running, assembling and planning. Next month, the story arc will end with Animal Man and Swamp Thing 17, and then not soon after that Scott Snyder will no longer be on the Swamp Thing creative team. I hope for the sake of the title that the new writer can live up to what Snyder has done, but I understand that Snyder has got a lot of bigger and better things planned through DC and Vertigo in 2013.

–John

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