Swamp Thing #11 is the second of three books to be released this week by comic scribe Scott Snyder. Is it a tale worth telling? Has it moved the story of the Rot forward instead of keeping it mired in repetitive muck like the last few issues? Why yes, yes it does. Snyder has allowed the rubber to hit the road, or in this case the root to hit the dirt. Swamp Thing Vs. Arcane, a battle for the ages and from the ages. The new good against the ancient evil. Who will come out on top?
Don’t believe the cover of Swamp thing #11 because Arcane isn’t as much triumphant in this issue as he is just a bastard. The book opens with the heavily evil and deformed Anton Arcane coming after his niece Abigail. Arcane is pissed, he wants his niece to accept her power and become part of the Rot. He’s also pissed that Swamp Thing helped deliver her from her destiny. In issue 11 Arcane beat Swamp Thing to death, at least he thought he had. Unbeknownst to Arcane, Swamp Thing aka Alec Holland, had saved the Parliament Of Trees and re-rooted them in the swamp. By doing that the parliament was able to protect him from death.
Arcane and his Unmen properly terrorize Abigail before knocking her unconscious and dragging Abigail’s limp body towards a portal leading into the depths of the Rot. Luckily, a powered up and pissed off Swamp Thing is there to stop him. Blows are exchanged, smack is talked, new mouths are grown and finally Arcane is beat down by Swamp Thing and shot by Abigail. Sensing defeat, Arcane retreats through the portal to the Rot, swearing to fight another day. Swamp Thing and Abigail hardly have time to breathe before they’re confronted by Animal Man who tells them that he and Swamp Thing must now go into the Rot.
Pretty exciting stuff, especially based on how slow moving both Swamp Thing and Animal Man have been. Apparently next month the two will go on sale at the same time to help round up the Rot arc with a one, two punch. Again, like with Batman #11, Snyder defers to his artist. Sure, there are plot points to be made and dialog written to hash out the story, but the issue belongs to Marco Rudy. I think Snyder understands that the first re-match between Arcane and Swamp Thing needs to be visually epic more so than textually.
Marco Rudy completely delivers on the task. When we are with Arcane and Abigail, the look is modern but with a flair for old Creepy horror comics. Arcane is not just evil but also vile, his deformed skull and oddly bloated body combine nicely with his teeth and long nails to be credibly disturbing. The Unmen are both tragic and disgusting. I also like a few of the old school “terrorized” faces that Abigail throws around.
The Swamp Thing art is colorful and bright but holds on to that creepy element. Marco Rudy understands that even as the hero, Swamp Thing is part of something disturbing, something outside our understanding and very surreal. When the two styles blend for the big confrontation they work together perfectly. Rudy knows how to draw him some monsters and he knows how to make them fight!
Swamp Thing is not an easy character to write or visualize and Scott Snyder and Marco Rudy do an outstanding job of it.
(4 Story, 4.5 Art)