Swamp Thing Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Green Kingdom (The New 52)
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Writers: Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Collects: Animal Man 12,17 and Swamp Thing12-18
Number Four in Scott Snyder Week!
Swamp Thing is the avatar of The Green, which give life to all plants. Animal Man is the avatar of The Red, which gives life to all animals. The main villain in Rotworld is Arcane; the avatar of The Rot which is the force behind death and decay.
That’s basically all you need to know for the set up- to this book, but you should also know that this volume contains only half the Rotworld event. The other half is contained in Animal Man Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Red Kingdom. If you’ve just been reading the Swamp Thing stories, though, there isn’t a whole lot you need to know from Animal Man.
Rotworld marks the end of Scott Snyder’s run on Swamp Thing, and it’s an immensely satisfying end. I’ve rated Snyders work pretty highly in general, but this is a book I would prefer even over Snyder’s Batman. That’s right, DC, I would sooner see more of a creature from the black lagoon than stinkin’ Batman Eternal. In fact, even though this Swampt Thing volume isn’t perfect, it’s damn-near close.
In this volume, Swamp Thing and Animal Man follow Arcane into The Rot and become trapped in it. When they finally emerge, it’s one year later, and the world has gone to hell. I say that almost literally, as now The Rot has all but taken over the earth. It’s infected all humans who have no connection to The Red or The Green, turning them into zombie-like rage creatures. It falls on Swamp Thing and Animal Man to amass armies strong enough to take down Arcane, and stop The Rot’s stranglehold on the world, all the while saving people who are very dear to them.
In Swamp Things case, that person is Abigail Arcane, the girl voted most likely to become zombie queen in high school (okay, there’s some artistic licence there, but she is meant to be the next avatar of The Rot). I won’t go give away the ending, but when Swamp Thing and Animal Man finally meet their loved ones, it’s a crushing blow to both characters. I would argue that the moment probably damages Animal Man more than it does Swamp Thing, but the moment is still fraught with emotion.
If you’re writing for DC and you do a big, alternate-world story, you have to reference some of DCs bigger names, and Lemire and Snyder do a good job of that by presenting us with “rotified” versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other more celebrated DC heroes. This isn’t a new idea- Geoff Johns did it a while ago in Blackest Night, but here it makes more sense here. Here, heroes joining The Rot is inevitable, so it’s natural that the Justice League would fall to it. Those characters who don’t join the rot mostly make sense- Poison Ivy is naturally connected to The Green and how could Beast Boy not be connected to The Red (like his new... skin tone[?]... didn’t give it away already)? It’s cool to see these b-list characters save the world.
The art here has been pretty consistent with the previous two volumes. There’s not much difference to notice between the Swamp Thing and Animal Man issues except the page design of Animal Man seems a little too neat in comparison to Swamp Thing. But that’s a small qualm when the art is just so damn enjoyable. The Rot are characteristically disgusting and there are plenty of awesome moments to look at.
Rotworld: The Green Kingdom finishes Snyder’s Swamp Thing run brilliantly. It gets my first perfect score of five out of five most-likely-to-become-zombie awards.
+ Emotive story
+ Good use of A and B list characters
+ Art continues to be gorgeous
Alternate Option: Animal Man: Rotworld: The Red Kingdom
The same story from a different perspective.