Gosh, this book just feels so Vertigo-y, doesn’t it? The absolutely horrific violence that gave the first few issues their charm continues here.
The opening Rot story is actually resolved and wrapped up in the first few issues of this collection. Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane get a nice win, one that makes it finally seem like Alec Holland has a chance against the overwhelming odds he’s facing. (Both this title and Animal Man portray the Rot as a foe WAY outside the range of their leads.)
Scott Snyder uses the early conclusion to great effect, reintroducing classic Swamp Thing villain Anton Arcane. He’s a natural, disgusting fit for the narrative. His monologue over a dying human (and directly to the reader) gives him a high level of villainy instantly. Only two or three issues in, and I’m anxious to see him get taken out by Swampy. It is hard to earn that level of hate this quickly.
There is a lot of Parliament of Trees stuff, including the idea that Alex Holland was destined to be a champion long before the accident that left him at the bottom of a swamp. Was Arcane always that intimately involved in that origin? The fate of Holland’s wife in this collection is even more horrific and tragic than I had remembered.
Yanick Paquette again handles the bulk of the artwork, and he’s a great fit for the title. His majestic, antler-bearing Swamp Thing looks like a vegetable god, as he should. This is the most imposing Swampy has ever looked to me. He continues to outdo himself with the Rot, too. This book practically stinks. There is so much wet viscera and rotting flesh, sensitive readers might want to pass.
If you’re after a mature super-hero comic that proudly walks the path of early Vertigo, this is a GOOD comic for you.