Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are widely credited with killing two successful comics with this Rotworld crossover. As a fan of desperate alternate futures, I was hopeful for the collection. Part of my itch was scratched, as the team of heroes facing down Anton Arcane in a rot-controlled world is pretty good. Swamp Thing, Man-Bat Batgirl, Steel, Beast Boy, Black Orchid, Poison Ivy, Deadman, Frankenstein, and that plant Green Lantern is a nice, varied crew of leads. This collection only spends a lot of time with four of those people, but I like the concept.
I also think Anton Arcane is a great example of a boss villain. With his legions of turned heroes and the sheer repulsiveness of his underlings, this is a desperate story from page 1. He’s a good smack-talker too, clearly relishing in rubbing in his victories over all his foes. I mean, Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane are already “his” arch nemesis anyway, but he sure likes coming after Animal Man and friends too!
Honestly, I couldn’t really see a way for the heroes to come out on top and have a world worth saving. So the writers dodge the issue in the conclusion, but they kind of had to. There wasn’t really any other way to deal with the level of insanity they’d established.
There are clearly a lot of chapters missing from this trade. I would have liked to have seen more of the surviving heroes and a bit more of the Rotworld than I saw in this trade. Of course, I understand there may have been too much once all the crossovers and tie-ins are tallied, but for now, I’m interested in seeing more.
Yanick Paquette’s pages are beautiful, as always. His majestically antlered Swamp Thing is striking, and giving him big plant wings just helps even more. The aged Parliament of Trees is impressive, as are their guardians Poison Ivy and Deadman. I will say I wasn’t overly impressed with the Rotlords or whatever they were called. Shimmery ghost faces aren’t dramatic enough to be responsible for the deus ex machina that overturns this whole story.
This FAIR comic is fine for what it is, but I also see how the book lost steam afterwards. When the entire run has been leading up to one fight against one boss, why would the readers stick around after that’s done?